Accuracy matters

To the Editor:

In their op-ed of April 13, Hayden Rooke-Ley and Jess Torres admirably call upon students to become more engaged with current affairs (“Fulfilling our mandate,” April 13). Unfortunately, the serious errors scattered throughout their subsequent paragraphs only underscore the uneasiness with which many regard hyper-activist student bodies: Young people harbor a dangerous tendency to unquestioningly accept partisan talking points as gospel.

For example, Rooke-Ley and Torres falsely claim that a temporary, partial shutdown of the federal government “would have laid off 800,000 federal workers.” In reality, that figure represents the number of employees who would be subjected to furlough – also known as temporary leave. While Rooke-Ley and Torres conflate a week of unpaid vacation with a permanent pink slip, I’m confident the employees in question could point out the important distinction.

Next, readers encounter the claim “federal funding for abortions is illegal under the Hyde Amendment,” implying that pro-life Americans have no legitimate objection to funneling taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood. First, the Hyde Amendment is not a law, but an impermanent appropriations rider. Second, the underlying principle is an economic fallacy: The federal money flowing to Planned Parenthood is fungible, so a government grant of $X simply frees the organization to allocate $X more of its private funds to the controversial procedures in question. Whatever one’s personal beliefs on this sensitive subject, the Hyde Amendment is objectively a red herring.

Should we really hope for some dramatic surge in activism if we can’t even expect those who submit to the Record to “take the time to be informed”? I, for one, am certainly unable to join Rooke-Ley and Torres in lamenting that students who were unaware our country even holds midterm elections didn’t flock to the polls. Their insistence that Ephs “stay involved and informed” is laudable only if the former flows from the latter. A truly informed and interested student body is ideal, but faced with the likelier choice between a politically subdued Purple Valley and the uncritical recitation of liberal doctrine characteristic on so many campuses, I must sadly suggest that a relatively apathetic Williams count its blessings.

– Andy Quinn ’13

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