Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

McIlheran sure knows his way around a thesaurus. Too bad he doesn't know his way around a dictionary as well.

In one of his posts today, McIlheran posts his views on an article that appeared in the morning's daily local. Said article had to deal with a woman who filed a discrimination lawsuit against her former employer. The woman claimed that she was harassed at work, and eventually suspended, for speaking Spanish to her mother on the phone, and to a coworker about personal issues.

As one would have guessed, McIlheran was not sympathetic to the woman. Amazingly, for someone who makes in living working for a newspaper, as a columnist, he shows a remarkable lack of understanding of the basics of communication. McIlheran writes (emphasis mine):

But that wasn't the issue. Ethnicity wasn't the issue. Language was. Ethnicity is immutable and doesn't have anything to do with how people interact. Language is learned and has everything to do with how people interact.

What in the world is he thinking, saying that ethnicity has nothing to do with how people interact? That is one of the very basic premises of communications. A person's ethnicity goes into forming their culture and their cultural norms. A person's culture determines what is and isn't significant to a person and how much weight they give to any given word or principle.

Just about every major school and university in the world has a series of courses dedicated to intercultural communication. Problems in this area has been known to start wars and hostilities that last for generations.

And McIlheran cluelessly claims that ethnicity has nothing to do with communications. Unbelievable. And I thought McBride was bad.

Sigh. Oh, well, since we know that McIlheran reads Whallah!, I will try to help to steer the man towards something he should have already known. We'll start out simple. From Wikipedia, here are some tips that McIlheran might want to bone up on before he tries to communicate with anyone outside of his very small circle:

When language skills are unequal, clarifying one’s meaning in four ways will improve communication (emphasis theirs):
  1. avoid using slang and idioms, choosing words that will convey only the most specific denotative meaning;
  2. listen carefully and, if in doubt, ask for confirmation of understanding (particularly important if local accents and pronunciation are a problem);
  3. recognise that accenting and intonation can cause meaning to vary significantly; and
  4. respect the local communication formalities and styles, and watch for any changes in body language.
  5. Investigate their culture's perception of your culture by reading literature about your culture through their eyes before entering into communication with them. This will allow you to prepare yourself for projected views of your culture you will be bearing as a visitor in their culture.


  1. If they ever want to do a sequel to all in the family, I nominate PaddyMac for the Archie role

  2. Where in the World is Jessica McBride?

    What we have here is truly, “Failure to Communicate”

    She seems to have gone the way of fellow right wing activist mover and shaker Todd Robert Murphy.

    Remember Todd (my mother named me Todd Robert)?

    Kingmaker, avid fund raiser for political insiders, panel member on the Belling Sunday morning show, a non indicted associate of many involved in the Bielinski “affair.” Some believe he was NGRR (Not Guilty by Reason of being Republican).

    But back to Ms. McBride. I wonder what reason she gives the fertile young minds she fills with unbiased knowledge for her sudden cessation of blogging?

    This, an election year, ripe with topics for columns full of her wit, wisdom, wishing, wondering and whitewashing but little from the Mistress of Spin but and occasional Henny Youngman one- liner accompanied by a link to someone else’s work.

    John McCain goes from impossible recipient of the Republican nomination to the man that lost to the first African American President of the United States and Ms. McBride is not to be heard?

    Truly, the silence IS deafening.

  3. WEDNESDAY, Feb. 27, 2008, 10:56 a.m.
    By Annysa Johnson

    Open meetings and open records
    Wisconsin's open records and open meetings laws don't exist solely for journalists and activists. These laws are intended to ensure that private citizens as well have access to government information and events that affect their daily lives, from police reports and municipal budgets to development agreements and board meetings.

    For a news story about open government for ordinary citizens, the Journal Sentinel is looking for individuals in Wisconsin who have had difficulty obtaining records or access. Share your experiences by e-mailing reporter Annysa Johnson.