Thursday, October 02, 2008

A View Of Over and Under Reactions

When Sherman overreacts, it's hilarious.
Check out "Sherman's Lagoon" by clicking on the picture. You'll enjoy the trip.

I'll admit it - when I first stopped writing updates to my blog a couple of years ago (time flies when you're procrastinating), I overreacted. I let a temporary case of writer's block keep me from something I enjoyed and that was a silly.

I take comfort in the fact that I'm not the only one who falls victim to overreacting under duress, no matter how minor. Like, for example, the Westland Police Department employee who cited a woman for contributing to the delinquency of a minor because her son urinated in a strip mall parking lot. Her 3-year old son.

This picture may get me cited in Westland. (File photo, not an actual photo of the incident.)

According to the mom, the man (later revealed to be an undercover police officer for the city) refused to show a badge to the woman and threatened to call Child Protective Services on her because she was "making excuses" to "justify" her son's actions. A 3-year old boy. Who announces he has to go potty and before mom can get his (not much older) sister out of her car and into a restroom, he takes matters into his own hands and relieves himself on her tire. I think this sounds like someone who just loves using the power of a badge on someone he can bully. Don't you think so too?

Sometimes an overreaction can be met with an equal and opposite overreaction. Take, for example, the situation with reporter Karen Dinkins. Ms. Dinkins, a reporter for local news radio station WWJ 950-AM, covered the recent Obama rally in Detroit last Sunday. Her overreaction was showing up to cover the rally wearing an Obama t-shirt. Not the smartest move - reporters are always supposed to present an impartial demeanor when covering a story. Her employer's reaction, however, was not the smartest either. They chose to fire Ms. Dinkins, a 13 year employee of the station. She expressed surprise about the firing, and journalism experts expressed surprise at both her actions and those of WWJ. None of the reports mentioned whether Ms. Dinkins had had any other performance issues or problems during her employment at the station, so I have to assume she had a favorable work record up to this incident. I understand WWJ not wanting to compromise its credibility, but I can't help but wonder if firing her was over the top. I understand that Ms. Dinkins may have wanted to capture the spirit of the rally and create a rapport with the attendees by wearing an Obama shirt. Maybe she thought that her attire didn't matter because, after all, she's a radio reporter. Who would see one little shirt? I also wonder if maybe her personal zeal got in the way of her professional judgment. It's hard to say because Ms. Dinkins and WWJ are refusing further comment.

Refusing comment, while legally sound, may come across as an underreaction by both parties - an action to which I can relate. After I realized I missed writing my blog, I underreacted by not putting fingers to keyboard as soon as acknowledged those feelings. Every once in a while, someone would ask if I planned to come back to the blog and I'd brush off the question with a smart alecky comment or a vague "maybe" or "soon." I guess I did it to underplay my embarrassment that I let something that I enjoyed go and didn't think that maybe others missed the blog as much as I did.

Again, I take comfort that I'm not the only one who falls victim to this line of thinking. Right now, for example, the news media is holding its collective breath in anticipation of tonight's Vice Presidential debate between Sen. Joseph Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin. The focus is on the intense work Sen. McCain's camp is doing to get Ms. Palin ready for the debate and the inevitable "who will win" question. There hasn't been as much of a focus, however, on her recent interviews from what I can tell. I knew that she was interviewed by Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News recently, but I just found out that it was - for lack of a better word - underwhelming. Take a look at this post on the Reuters website to see for yourself.

It makes me wonder if, in an attempt to address the issue, advisors to Ms. Palin will overreact and over prepare her for the debate. Whatever happens, I just hope the preparations don't include lip or pork products. That will start the overreaction cycle over again and lead to an underreaction we don't need - like a lack of focus on the issues voters care about.

That reminds me: The deadline to register to vote in the November presidential election is next week for many states. Here in Michigan, the deadline is October 6th. If you haven't done so, please register to vote then go to the polls on November 2nd and vote. The only way change can happen, no matter what change means to you, is to let your voice be heard and have your vote counted. Rock the Vote has a pretty cool Election Center with all sorts of information about registering, voting and the candidates, including links to all sorts of campaign and voter information sites.

Here's a fact I found on Rock the Vote I didn't know: Eight states allow voters to register on Election Day? Some even let you do it at the polling site. Here's a big VFTT shout out to Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Wyoming - states that neither over or underreact when it comes to voter registration. They get the balance just right.

More later. TTFN, y'all - and keep an even keel.

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