Sunday, July 13, 2008

parsing: an anonymous comment

One of the great pleasures enjoyed by your humble author is receiving reader comments to ack/nak articles. Whether by email or through the Blogger comment system, I value your annotations, commentary, criticisms, discussions, explanations, expositions, illustrations, interjections, notations, observations, opinions, reflections, remarks, statements, wisecracks and even your thoughts. Oh, and input. I'm particularly fond of comments, to be honest. Keep them coming.

Every now and then someone chooses to leave a comment that seems oddly out of place with the article to which it is attached. In general these comments are too literate to be comment spam, so I can only conclude that Someone Out There had a thought, found ack/nak, chose a post, and after a few simple steps, achieved their goal: to leave a comment for our collective consideration.

Consider this comment, left to the post I wrote yesterday morning:

I fired the Obama supporters who worked for me. They seemed to think it was ok for them to take unauthorized time off to work for him for free while using Company property for the liberal's benefit. Sad really.

What an interesting comment! Let's parse it together.

1. The author, by virtue of claiming to be able to fire people, is someone in a position of power in the business world. Hooray! I always knew the powerful would come to regard ack/nak as a preferred source of. . . whatever it is that we make here. Let's continue.

2. This individual has characterized those individuals he fired as "Obama supporters". How exciting! The conflict between the freedom of speech and workplace harassment law is an interesting topic. I invite the author to let us know where he/she works, so that all of his/her co-workers can share in the discussion.

3. Then the author goes on to attribute some activities with the individuals whose employment he terminated. As a class, he associates the following with Obama supporters:
  • They took unauthorized time off.
  • They worked for Senator Obama for free.
  • They used work resources for the benefit of Senator Obama.
I can understand how the author would be rightfully upset at the first and last points - taking unauthorized time off and using company resources for non-company activities are verboten.

But the author has chosen to enumerate "working for free" as equally offensive. This is a breakthrough! I had wondered when right-thinking employers would finally conclude that volunteering is not only wasteful, but grounds for dismissal as evidence of defective thinking.

4. The author concludes the list of termination-worthy activities by characterizing the subject of those activities as a "liberal". I am left to wonder whether or not the same activities would have met with similar action had the beneficiary been "not liberal". Say, a Republican. Or one of the following registered political parties:

Alaskan Green Party
Alaskan Independence Party
America First
American Heritage Party
American Civil Liberties Union
American Conservative Union
American Independent Party, California
American Monarchist League
American Patriot Party, Oregon
American Reform Party
American Synthesis Party
America's Open Debates Foundation
Black Panther
California Peace and Freedom Party
Cascadian National Party
Centrist Reform Party
The Christian Coalition
Christian Falangist Party of America
Citizens For Reasonable Growth
Commonwealth Party for Conservatives & Classical Liberals
Communist Party USA
The Concord Coalition
The Conservative Party of New York State
Conservatives Online
Conservative Think
Constitutionalist Party
Constitution Party
Constitution Party of Tennessee
Democratic Socialists of America
Expansionist Party of the United States
Family Values Party
Freedom Alliance
Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Freedom Socialist Party
Free Hawaii, a voice for the Kingdom of Hawaii
Green Parties of North America
Green Party of the US
Hawai`i, independence movement
The Heart Political Party
Independence Party of Minnesota
Independent American Party
Independent Unity Campaign, New York State
International Socialist Organization
Irish National Caucus
Irish Northern Aid Inc
Irish Republican Socialist Movement
Irish Republican Socialist Party
The Jeffersonian Party
Labor Party
League for the Revolutionary Party (Fourth International)
League for the Fifth International
League of Revolutionaries for a New America
League of the South
Left Green Network
The Legal Party
The Liberal Party of New York State
Libertarian Party
The Light Party
Moderate Party
Monarchist Society of America
National Socialist Movement
The Natural Law Party
New Liberty Party
The New Party
New Union Party
North Eastern Federation of Anarchist Communists
Pansexual Peace Party
The Patriot Party
Personal Choice
ProLife Alliance
Progressive Labor Party
Prohibition Party
Public Citizen
Reform Party
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Royalist Party of America
Social Democrats
Socialist Action
Socialist Alternative
The Socialist Labor Party
Socialist Party USA
Southern Independence Party of Kentucky
Southern Independence Party of Texas
Southern Loyalists
Southern Party of Louisiana
Southern Party of Tennessee
Third parties and electoral reform.
US Marxist-Leninist Organization
US Socialist Party
The United States Official Monster Raving Loony Party
The United States Pacifist Party
Unity Party of America
Utah's Progressive Anarchist Party
Workers Party
Workers World
Working Families Party
World Socialist Party of the United States

By not calling out any of these parties, the author is making it clear that he is making specific reference to the Democratic Party to which Senator Obama belongs. It's a tidy way to narrow the argument, and the author does it masterfully.

5. The author concludes the comment with "Sad really", and in doing so, raises the issue of lex naturalis (Natural Law) as described by Thomas Aquinas for our consideration. How elegant! The primary precept of Aquinas' Summa Theologica is "Good is to be sought, evil avoided." If the author asserts that those who did wrong were liberals, on the left of the political spectrum, then those on the right must be good. Applied to the situation described by the author, Aquinas' teachings can be interpreted as "The right is to be sought, the left avoided".

It is sad, concludes the author, that the individuals he fired chose to support Senator Obama, for in doing so they sought to destroy social relations established by the employer, who by virtue of being the employer is the embodiment of good. Truly, how sad!

Taken together, the author makes a compelling argument that business owners should preemptively and immediately scour their workplaces for any individuals who support the political views of Senator Obama and fire them tout de suite. It's an entirely logical argument. Nothing less than the productivity of a nation is at risk, and if we allow our productivity to decrease, the terrorists win.

Thanks for the comment.

UPDATE: I neglected to note that the author capitalized "company" - another sign that the author considers the company to be an archetype of sorts. I need to think about this a little more, but the author wouldn't have done it if it wasn't important. Riddles within riddles!

UPDATE: Just a heads up, if you leave an anonymous comment, make it interesting. Posting links to YouTube videos of talking heads isn't interesting.


Christopher Painter said...

I had a really nice weekend and I don't particularly want to be at work right now. Will someone please find an interesting reason to fire me so that I can go home also?

Ron said...

Ya got too much puckerbutt to make this a good fisking, but y'all keep trying!

bob said...