Thursday, May 3, 2007

"The Gomer Pyle Axiom of High and Low Expectations"

A few weeks ago, Mark Shea came up with the Gomer Pyle Axiom of High and Low Expectations:

The Gomer Pyle Axiom of High and Low Expectations states that those who are expected to meet expectations disappoint us more than those from whom we expect nothing. If Enrico Caruso opens his mouth to sing and his voice cracks, it's a crushing disappointment. When Gomer Pyle opens his mouth and a voice of moderate tone and talent comes out, it's a feat worthy of celebration.

The context for the axiom was politics, and, more specifically, the two major political parties - which, for some time now, Shea has referred to as "The Evil Party" and "The Stupid Party". (Guess which is which.)

The further context for the Pyle Axiom was how the two major parties generally view abortion:

Similarly, a pro-life Democrat is tiny a flower in a very big desert. You want to encourage it to spread. But a GOP pol who promises us, yet again, that the check is in the mail and he working to do something aboutt abortion, and who then takes our vote and gives nothing except rhetoric deserves just the amount of loyalty I give him. I'm certainly glad and grateful for the appointment of Roberts and Alito. But I'm also aware that Bush picked an incompetent pro-choice sycophant for AG and that his first choice for the court had absolutely nothing to do with pro-life (or even pro-competence) issues in the case of groupie Harriet Miers. Bush might as well have picked up a megaphone and declared that, if the nominee happened to be pro-life, that was great, but it certainly didn't influence his choice. What mattered was loyalty to the theory of the unitary executive. I'm delighted with the guys he did eventually pick, but out of the total pool of GOP nominees since 1980, the score is still pretty depressing.

In other words, on the issue of abortion, he holds the Stupid Party to a higher standard than he does the Evil Party.

Makes sense, methinks.

I think he's on to something with the Pyle Axiom, and it seems to me it has applications in countless other settings as well. To take but one example (also relating to abortion, as it happens, but which could also relate to other subjects): media coverage.

A few months ago, an article appeared in the Chicago Tribune on pregnancy resource centers. It contained numerous quotes from workers from actual PRCs, as well as from representatives from pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood. While I had some complaints about the article, after reading it, it seemed reasonably well balanced. In essence, I thought that it was about as fair a treatment of the subject as one could expect.

Some pro-lifers, however, work themselves into a lather over articles like this one (and the very highly publicized Time Magazine cover story on PRCs from a few months back). When I hear complaints like these from fellow pro-lifers, I can't help but wonder: What did they expect?

We know that most members of the mainstream media don't regularly attend worship services, are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping abortion legal, and personally believe that Judeo-Christian sexual morality is outmoded.

That said, we oughtn't be gobsmacked when we sense bias in the MSM against the beliefs we hold dear.

Enrico Caruso they ain't.

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