Juxtaposition and Jackalopes

I know exactly when I learned the meaning of juxtaposition.  It was during a Fine Arts 13 lecture in 1964-1965 when I was a Harvard freshman.  Harvard freshmen took Fine Arts 13 because it was perhaps the most popular course among the Radcliffe girls.  (Girl had not yet become a four letter word in 1964.)  I did equally poorly in my pursuit of  the ladies and an understanding of the subject.

But I learned the meaning of the word juxtaposition — the placement of two things near each other — and I have often thought about it since. Actually, Wikipedia tells me that I have thought about a subset of juxtaposition, which it refers to as “random juxtaposition” meaning “two random objects moving in parallel, a technique intended to stimulate creativity.”

Is it possible to have a juxtaposition of three things?  I can’t see why not and today we will.

Here they are: three random objects moving in parallel.  Object number one: the tweets of Ezra Klein during the Republican National Convention.  Object number two: a website of the Pew Research Center http://www.people-press.org/political-party-quiz e-mailed to me this morning by my brother. Object number three: a Jonah Goldberg quote emailed to me by my son: “The socially liberal fiscal conservative is the Jackalope of American politics.”

The creativity stimulated by these randomly juxtaposed events relates to the willingness of a commentator to let his readers know where he stands.

In this endeavor, Mr. Klein ranks as poorly as I did while sitting in darkness looking at girls instead of paintings.

The website asks “where do you fit?”  Based on your answers to a small number of questions it tells you where you land on an axis from “very liberal” to “very conservative.”

Overall, my answers suggest that I am slightly to the left of the average independent and relatively close to a “lean Obama” voter.  On economic issues however, I rank closer to the average Republican than to the average independent but I am closer to the median then to the very conservative.  On social issues, I am far to the left of President Obama’s most likely voters.  Mouse clicks don’t give you the methodology but I suspect the survey weights the social and economic issues equally and I score slightly left of where I would place myself. I don’t weight them equally at all.

In comparison with Democrats, Independents and Republicans, I rank slightly to the left of center overall, a bit more to the right of center on economic issues and very close to off-the-left-side-of-chart on social issues.

Pew tells me that overall, I’m about 30 years old but on economic issues I am about 75.  On social issues I am as yet unborn, ranking well to the left of 18- to 29-year-olds. Unborn social lefties might experience just a touch of cognitive dissonance.

Overall, I might have gotten my gender wrong as I ranked closer to females than males.  It also appears that I have become Hispanic as opposed to white.  I am slightly closer to the white mainline in religion but tending toward unaffiliated, which seems just about right.

As to candidates, I come out slightly to the left of the average independent though, on the issues most important to me, former Governor Romney need have no fear.

Take the test.  Answer the questions as honestly as you can.  Report your results if you like.

Seems to me the Pew poll pretty much agrees with the words in the About section of this website:

libertyPell is “classical liberal” in outlook, committed to the ideals of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, liberty of individuals, free markets and ultimately a political process that functions through the informed consent of the governed.

Liberals of the classical variety are sometimes confused in the United States with Libertarians but never with the more modern variety that abandoned the word in favor of progressive. Let’s take it back and return it to its original meaning.

Over to you Ezra. It should not be any more painful than disclosing tax returns.

4 Responses to “Juxtaposition and Jackalopes”

Ashley Higgins, August 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm said:

It is of no surprise that Pew and PBS put me at the right end of the bar graph. It is odd that some of the issues were not written in standard English. No, maybe it is not odd. Maybe it should be expected of Pew and PBS. Also of Ezra’s “fact-check” tweet.


Haven Pell, August 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm said:

I suspect there is a tyranny of false precision at work but I thought it was interesting.


Haven Pell, August 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm said:

if you like the other test, try this one too. It enables you to rank the strength of your view. http://www.isidewith.com/


Ashley Higgins, August 31, 2012 at 3:26 am said:

My views are strong, but I appear to walk alone.


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