This post may be a bit self-indulgent and, in maybe-still-contemporary-language, meta, but like Spock on Star Trek, I find human interactions fascinating. Moreover, in a world in which people who disagree even about what sentences mean, I’m not sure how we can reduce aggression unless we from time to time spend a few moments to attempt to explain what they mean to us, individually. So, let’s draw a quick time line.
On June 21, Shorey wrote an article for The Valley Breeze questioning the Community College of Rhode Island’s (CCRI’s) decision to push the Mission of Mercy dental clinic, providing free dental care periodically to those who cannot afford to pay for it, out of the college’s existing clinic facility. The article is fair, but it would also be fair to understand it to be sympathetic to the Mission. The headline is “No Mercy,” the lede and the first paragraph are both written from the volunteers’ perspective, and indeed, CCRI doesn’t get a say until many paragraphs into the piece.
On July 12, Shorey took the occasion of an anti-Trumpcare email from Governor Raimondo to apply some pressure on the issue. He starts out with moral positioning, as follows:
Elected leaders love to talk about how they stand up for the “little people” at all costs, particularly the vulnerable and poor, but do they really mean it?
Shorey proceeds to detail his attempts to get a straight answer from the governor’s office, with the following quotations relevant to this analysis:
- “… use of the word immoral got me to wondering about Raimondo’s thoughts on the Community College of Rhode Island’s decision to end the Mission of Mercy…”
- “I thought she would at least give me some sort of response, perhaps expressing sympathy but saying the decision is up to the school.”
- “In light of the wording used in her email about Trumpcare, did Raimondo find what CCRI did to the Mission of Mercy to be immoral?”
- “Just like with Trumpcare impacting Rhode Islanders, the loss of the Mission of Mercy also impacts them, so I think it’s fair to ask the governor whether she’s OK with it.”
All but the last sentence of my post pointing to Shorey’s was simply a quick summary of his findings. Here’s the last sentence:
Shorey’s right, too, to wonder how rhetoric about reform of broad national health policy can be called “immoral” for removing mandates for insurance coverage and seeking to reform a welfare program when Raimondo’s extended administration directly removed access to actual health care.
Note that this sentence doesn’t say anything about his own belief about Trumpcare (or mine, for that matter). Yes, I described what I believe to be the Republican reforms that Raimondo might call “immoral,” but this paraphrase doesn’t strike me as out of keeping with Shorey’s own statements.
Nonetheless, Shorey tweeted at me: “Please edit.” When I expressed a willingness to revise, but noted that I didn’t see what I’d gotten wrong and attempted to clarify my understanding so he could clarify his, he tweeted: “Now I’m getting angry.”
Umm, okay. That seems to be suggesting some emotion behind the exchange that I really don’t understand. So, I put an addendum on my post clarifying his view and mine, but throwing in a little dig at one possible interpretation: That there’s some extrinsic consideration about which he’s concerned, such as being associated with the unseemly likes of me.
In response, Shorey thanked me “for the crappy edits.” And somewhere in there, he posted a follow-up on The Valley Breeze that quotes the last sentence of my original post but provides readers no link for expanded context. He also states that this misuse of his words is something that I’m doing “again.” He provides no link to past evidence of this habit of mine and (implicitly) my character, so this is, as far as I can tell, mere ad hominem on a Valley Breeze page.
In reviewing my own content, I suppose I could have written my offending sentence in a way that emphasized even more the if/then logic of Shorey’s inquiry to Raimondo, but that would have complicated the grammar. My assessment in writing it was that complicating it in that way would have been unnecessary because the meaning was clear, especially because I’d just quoted — in full — Shorey’s statement about “wondering,” so readers could see what he’d actually written.