Waltzing with the Public Health crowd at the Westminster Town Hall Forum


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jfh
May 22, 2005, 02:36 PM
At last, here is the report of my venture into the lion's den last Thursday.

As some of you know, based on the sticky we had up for a couple of weeks, I ventured to the Westminster Town Hall forum for the speech by David Hemenway on May 19th. I came in fairly loaded for bear, with prepared comments or questions to ask of Hemenway, the Harvard Public Health Guru on Guns.

Got there early. Westminster Presbyterian Church is a well-kept, downtown church built about 100 years ago for the power elite of Minneapolis. It now has a multiple-mission, of course, since the power elite no longer live in the area or attend church, AFAICT. The forum topics have over the ten-twenty years this Public Radio program has been around have covered the social / political issues of liberals.

At any rate, I arrived early. By 11:30, we were treated to a concert by two young women, members of the church, who are classically-trained pianists of more than some talent. At the start of their concert, there were approximately fifty people in attendance--mostly those who appeared to be retirees bent on staying socially conscious. By 11:45, more people were arriving; some of these appeared to be other employed professionals in perhaps the social services, and by about 12:00 there were perhaps 250 people in attendance, including two classes / thirty HS kids from a relatively near inner city magnet school.

As it turned out, this speech and the following Q&A session were not to be broadcast live, but recorded for future broadcast. As you shall see, that probably was a good idea. Yellow note cards were passed out by the church ladie's auxiliary / whoever, and the secretarial staff were the organizers.

During the piano concert I hastily-rewrote three or four of the pithy questions onto the yellow cards, then settled into listening to Hemenway.

The text was on a subset of the Public Health model of "gun violence"--and the specific topic was "injury control." Hemenway is, in crude stereotypes, a mediocre public speaker--he has some tics and a habit of both verbally swallowing the end of his sentences and turning his head away at the same time. It's no different from what we have seen in undersocialized professors at any school, and such an observation is irrelevant to the subject at hand--the main point is, this is not a guy to lead the Gun Control Crowd into the breech, as it were, as a political personality. The recorded speech will need editing, all right, for it to be a polished production for broadcast.

I won't really review my notes from the speech--it was just the standard PH model--the epidemic of violence, etc. etc. caused by guns, with these very clear emphases:

1. In comparison to other developed nations, 'youth' in the US have a 1700% greater liklihood of being involved in a gun incident, and several other such similar comparisons.

2. The issue is injury, and decreasing those "gun" injuries to as low as possilbe--and the latest attemp to both inflate the figures for PH use is to use a new measurement category: unintentional injury.

3. Good data is hard to come by because of the lack of clear reporting in the UCRs, etc., and because the privacy laws that exist in relation to the CCW laws.

It was not a political speech to call the crowd to the ramparts. I quickly added a question about differences between unintentional injury and the more common CDC categories like accidents to my questions on the yellow cards.

The cards were collected, and I also turned in the letter-sized word doc set of questions I had prepared. The church's executive secretary was the primary sort and filter, organizing the passed-in cards for the moderator (church senior pastor) to read to Hemenway. Then the moderator organized / reorganized and chose as well. So, two filters in place.

The Q&A was a slow-pitch softball game, obviously designed for the future broadcast--no hard questions; the first questions were from the kids--one of which, god help me, was something like "what can we do to help?"

My questions on the yellow cards caused no small amount of frowning by both--I could tell they were mine because of their proximity to the folded paper from the word doc--and she and he evaluated those, too. It was clear to me that my questions were obviously more 'advanced' than they wanted, so the only one read was for Hemenway to "describe his shooting experience." That experience, BTW, includes (I think) the typical summer camp .22 shooting, and apparently sometime in the not-too-distant past, a paintballing outing.

Hemenway is clearly, in broad stereotypes, a non-tool, academic nerd.

I looked for ideological issues--and it appears to me he is both an academician AND a ideological one-worlder--but possibly one of those people who have never examined his ideology.

He did give accurate comments to questions about the profile of CCW permittees--e.g., typically OWMs, more law-abiding than average, less likely to commit crime. He even gave an accurate answer to the "guns-and-race" question--but he prefaced it with reviewing the comments about OWM permitees and then loosing the blacks-and-guns-and-death explication in his tic and swallowed last-half-of-statement-style.

I only saw a couple of MN politicians and people I think are anti-gun activists there. It will be interesting to see how the edited production plays.

The coffee afterwards was only slightly more interesting--really a mixed-class socialization among non-thinkers. I did meet Hemenway, identified myself as part of the enemy, and said I hoped we could discuss this in greater depth sometime.

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Standing Wolf
May 22, 2005, 09:35 PM
My questions on the yellow cards caused no small amount of frowning by both...

Thanks for your report, eh?

People who propose that the nation's civil rights are a so-called "public health issue" are are best what Lenin called "useful idiots."

geekWithA.45
May 22, 2005, 09:45 PM
a habit of both verbally swallowing the end of his sentences and turning his head away at the same time.

Body language that screams "I have massive unresolved inner conflicts; I do not know if I believe that which I say, and seek to avoid responsibility for same."

goodGeek: Poor guy. Needs to zen a bit, figure himself out, and get in alignment with whatever his true self might be.

evilGeek: Naw, the heck with that. Confusion and suffering to our enemies.

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