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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

If it’s not one thing, it’s another

David Colburn
Posted 2/3/21

“Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it’s always something — if it’s not one thing, it’s another.”Oldsters like me may well recall that classic catchphrase of …

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If it’s not one thing, it’s another

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“Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it’s always something — if it’s not one thing, it’s another.”
Oldsters like me may well recall that classic catchphrase of original Saturday Night Live cast member Gilda Radner in her Weekend Update alter-ego of Roseanne Roseannadanna.
She, Roseanne Roseannadanna, would open each skit by reading a thoughtful letter from Richard Feder of Fort Lee, New Jersey, to which she, Roseanne Roseannadanna, would respond. And within perhaps two sentences or less, she, Roseanne Roseannadanna, departed from the topic at hand and went off in strange directions that usually included odd comments about encounters with celebrities and mildly unsettling revelations involving hair, toenails, and other body parts and functions. When Jane Curtin asked her what her rambling rants had to do with Mr. Feder’s letter, that’s when she, Roseanne Roseannadanna, would spring her catch phrase.
As a quick aside, note that the repetitious “she, Roseanne Roseannadanna” is my own little bit of homage to the character’s own equally silly habit of saying “I, Roseanne Roseannadanna” numerous times. The incredibly astute among you may have picked up on that. Having now paid said homage, I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know that to save on space and typing, I’ll henceforth refer to her as RR.
I believe RR was a character well ahead of her time, because I think she would’ve been a veritable rock star in the world of social media, a world where a simple fact can turn into a full-blown QAnon conspiracy faster than you can say “She, Roseanne Roseannadanna.” And yes, it just became glaringly obvious that I’m quite willing to abandon any prior promise about RR to glibly capitalize on the moment. Go ahead and sue me – all I ask is that you use Rudy Giuliani or another 2020 election fraud lawyer so that I have at least a 70-in-one chance of winning my case.
Ah, but as you’ve no doubt become accustomed to by now, I digress. Much like RR, actually. Back on topic.
In the vein of “if it’s not one thing, it’s another,” I discovered in a recent scan of my Facebook news feed that there are some conservatives in our neck of the woods in Minnesota who appear concerned about a proposed law in Oregon that would set the stage for governors in all states to have emergency powers beyond all reason. The comments that ensued took the conversation well into the realm of RR, seeing this as a harbinger of long-feared “one world government” conspiracy theorists. It just goes to show you, it’s always something – if it’s not one thing, it’s another.
I’m quite selective these days about what debunking I try to tackle, but this one seemed pretty straightforward.
Rather than breaking dangerous new ground, Oregon is Johnny-come-lately with this particular clarification of its emergency response law. Liberal Oregon meet conservative Texas, which has given its governor essentially the same emergency power since 1975. The particular aspect of a governor commandeering private property during an emergency in return for just compensation has been widely recognized in emergency law for years and draws its support from no less than the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
Armed with research, I plunged into a lengthy comment sharing my view that fears about this sparking a revolution among governors wanting to grab land and power were quite misplaced.
I invested the time and research because while the original poster and I are generally on opposite ends of the political spectrum, he’s never been one to indulge in name-calling and usually seems to have given some thought to what he posts, even if in my view it seems extreme.
A few hours later, sure enough, he replied. He acknowledged my comments, then countered with more detail about the parts of the proposed law that gave him great concern. One part was already part of Oregon law. The other was a proposed change, and after reading his explanation, I found myself agreeing with him to a certain extent. As written, the language was problematic, and I could see how it could be interpreted as allowing for an overreach in the governor’s authority.
Two old guys from Minnesota posting online aren’t going to change anything in Oregon. And nothing’s going to change in Oregon either, because after a huge COVID-driven backlash from those railing against that governor’s emergency pandemic powers, that piece of legislation has been withdrawn. It would be wise to work on language revisions in line with other states before reintroducing it, in my opinion.
I relate this story because I am discouraged with how readily people on social media demean and dismiss anyone associated with something that’s on the far opposite side of their political beliefs. Certainly, outlandish conspiracy theories deserve to be met with another Roseanne Roseannadanna catch phrase -- “What are ya tryin’ to do, make me sick?!” But not all far-right conservatives are Trump zombie deplorables, and not every far-left liberal is a socialist libtard.
Here I saw the possibility for exchange about the issue of a governor’s emergency powers. I did not call the poster a “deplorable” and he did not call me a “libtard.” I did not call him a Trump zombie, and he did not call me a George Soros puppet. We laid out our positions respectfully and came to a greater understanding. It’s a good start for text-based social media.
It’s always something – if it’s not one thing, it’s another. A phrase for today’s caustic political social media world that’s well suited for RR. Mr. Feder puts up a post, and RR talks back at him, not with him, going off on whatever tangent she feels like. The amount of worthless junk in that arena is indeed enough to make one sick.
But if more people would look for opportunities where some thoughtful exchange is possible, perhaps we could have more conversation-like exchanges of substance. Compromises can’t happen unless one is willing to make the attempt to understand an opposing viewpoint, something Congress demonstrates its inability to do almost daily.
The noise is so loud online that countless numbers of people have just stopped listening. Social media is jammed with Roseanne Roseannadannas, liberal and conservative alike, spouting off whatever they want. Extremism runs rampant and opportunities may be few, but I believe it’s more important now than ever to look for and take advantage of those moments when at least some possibility of a meaningful exchange exists. We need conversations. RR deserves to be a fond relic of a distant past and not a constant destructive presence in the present.

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