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The Politics of Impartiality

Written By: - Date published: 2:59 pm, November 23rd, 2010 - 41 comments
Categories: broadcasting, democratic participation, Media, Politics, tv, uk politics - Tags: , , ,

George Galloway has never been known for pulling his punches.

In 2005 he travelled to  US Senate Committee hearings to answer charges that he had accepted bribes from Saddam Hussein in a food for oil scam. By simply speaking truth to power, he wiped the floor with them. (Part two here, if you’ve never viewed his testimony before, or if you are reminding yourself of some salient facts from recent history.)

By the time he appeared before the Senate Committee, he had already been expelled from the Labour Party (2003) for calling on British soldiers to not fight in Iraq.

In short, George Galloway doesn’t mince his words and is a man of conscience.

Now-a-days, he hosts a one hour phone in TV political programme broadcast from London.  The show has been criticised by ofcom (the British broadcasting watchdog) for failing to be objective. ( You can link to web based links of the show ‘Comment’  here. )

Would the same criticism be levelled at broadcasts that failed to display an objective balance but that fell in line with ‘correct’ or orthodox political thinking?  Or would similar criticism be levelled by the authorities at broadcasts displaying a rabid right wing bent?

I ask the question because the ofcom criticism of George Galloway’s TV slot reminded me of a piece I read the other day by Chris Hedges titled The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum, based on an interview with Chandler Davies who was sent to prison for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee in the late 50’s, was subsequently jailed, then blacklisted from academia and who has spent the rest of his life in exile in Canada.

Writing in 1959, Davis noted that  “Repression does not target original thought. It targets already established heretical movements, which are not experimental but codified. If it succeeds very well in punishing heresies, it may in the next stage punish originality. And in the population, fear of uttering such a taboo word as communism may in the next stage become general paralysis of social thought.”

As we move forward 50 years it seems that he was correct.

Now when he says that; “Ideas which were on the agenda a hundred years ago and sixty years ago have dropped out of memory because they are too far from the new centre of discourse.” , we can see how that applies as much in  NZ today as it does in the US or the UK or elsewhere.

That’s the  broader context from which to view the criticism of Galloway.  The criticism of Galloway is a dynamic that has precious little to do with objectivity and a whole lot to do with establishing and maintaining a skewed range of orthodoxy. An orthodoxy where the centre ground is occupied with right wing bias and the right wing balance to that new centre is rabid shock jocks while anything beyond a  counterveiling soft, moderate and safe left is way outside the ballpark of acceptable discourse.

41 comments on “The Politics of Impartiality ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Ah well, I’ll bring up an idea from the past:

    The wealthy can afford to contribute by far the most to the running of a fair and decent society (while still being able to afford all the luxuries in life), therefore it is the wealthy who shall be taxed the most.

    Or another:

    People are not here to work for the economy. The economy is here to work for the people.

    Or another:

    Capital shall be used to benefit the people, not the other way around.

    Or another:

    No person shall be required to work more than 40 hours a week in order to generate a livelihood able to provide themselves with a comfortable standard of living.

    • Vicky32 1.1

      All excellent points, CV….
      Deb

      • Carol 1.1.1

        Yes, very good points about the economy serving people, not the other way around.

        Tonight on TV3 news, there was a moment of providing a little implied criticism of business interests (ie profits) being put above people. A report was mentioned that was begun under the last Labour-led government, and shelved by the current government. Andrew Little was interviewed about it, and says the report was critical of the level of safety checks. The report was critical of the health & safety oversight (or the fact that there wasn’t enough of it) in NZ mines. Apparently overseas/Aussie mines have a safety expert on hand to check conditions each shift. Such checks only happen a few times a year in NZ.

        Kate Wilkinson didn’t sound good on it. Mind you, they didn’t re-show clips of Key saying yesterday, that the safety standards in NZ mines were as good as anywhere else… as far as he knew.

        • ianmac 1.1.1.1

          And the down grading of the safety rules was done in the early 1990s when guess who was carrying out a cost saving exercise. The NAct chose to ignore the report in 2009.

  2. Carol 2

    Well, I’m puzzled by some of the responses by Patrick Gower & a TV3 spokesperson, on the gender bias & political bias in TV3 political news journos & on The Nation. Is bias just in the eye of the beholder?

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Key-must-break-up-National-bloke-fest/tabid/1382/articleID/187367/Default.aspx

    eg Patrick Gower claims that not following John Key around while he smiles and waves would be going into the teritory of authoritarian government & its control of the media:

    John Key’s seen everywhere from Tokyo to Greymouth, er, because he’s everywhere from Tokyo to Greymouth. He’s the Prime Minister. He pronounces on everything because he’s asked about everything.

    If the media ignored him, then we really would be heading for Kim Jong Il/Stalin territory… Governing without the media – now that would be a dream.

    Also James Murray on TV3 disagreed with my criticism, that the main political journalists in the MSM, and on TV3 & The Nation are male, by saying:

    Hi Carol – I would just like to point out that in the mainstream media we have Rebecca Wright at TV3. The political editor of the Dominion Post is Tracy Watkins, the political editor of the NZ Herald is Audrey Young. I think Maggie Tait is the political editor for the NZPA and at least two of RNZ’s main political journalists are women, one of whom is the leader of the press gallery I believe. The Nation has several female journalists and a female producer. I think women are quite well represented in political journalism and rightly so.

    I do think the print news media has a reasonable amount of female political news journalists/commentators, but on the main FTA TV news & the news, current affairs shows on the weekends, the main journos seem to me to be male. Partly, it depends on what is the MSM – to me it is the main TV news, and the front pages of the newspapers.

    • Carol 2.1

      Whoops. I wasn’t able to edit the above post because it went through moderation. The last paragraph is my views & not a quote. ie I said:

      I do think the print news media has a reasonable amount of female political news journalists/commentators, but on the main FTA TV news & the news, current affairs shows on the weekends, the main journos seem to me to be male. Partly, it depends on what is the MSM – to me it is the main TV news, and the front pages of the newspapers.

      PS. I don’t see RNZ as MSM, and I do like that it has a few female political journalists.

      • Bill 2.1.1

        I guess bias is, at least to a degree in the eye of the beholder.

        The point I was flagging was that in the name of impartiality, a steady rightwards drift has occurred and continues to occur in our media reports and in the general discourse of society.

        In other words, cries for ‘impartiality’ are part of a smokescreen that allows a right leaning discourse to gain ascendency and become accepted as ‘normal’ or ‘neutral’. And when that happens, ever greater swathes of left leaning thought ‘drop off the radar’ as it were because the thing to be balanced (the centre) has shifted ever more rightward.

        Having viewed a couple of Galloway’s programmes, I can see why the watchdog authority is critical. He expresses an intelligent pro-Palestinian stance and condemns Israeli policies and actions in a forthright manner that we would never see aired on our mainstream TV channels. Our mainstream TV channels offer ‘balanced’, ‘neutral’ and ‘normal’ coverage of the Middle East. Meaning they will, wherever possible, shy away from criticism of Israel and avoid upsetting Israeli sensibilities by reporting favourably and forcibly on Palestinian issues. You might recall the onslaught of apologists demanding and getting airtime to excuse and rationalise the massacre on the aid ship that sought to bust the blockade of Gaza and how news report after news report uncritically regurgitated the Israeli claim that those aboard the aid ship were armed?

        Partiality defended by claiming the need to be impartial in other words.

        • Carol 2.1.1.1

          I do agree with the rightward bias, as I commented below. It just amazed me that Gower seemed unaware of his biases, which took me aback for a bit, and had me wondering how easy it is to judge our own biases.

        • Vicky32 2.1.1.2

          “You might recall the onslaught of apologists demanding and getting airtime to excuse and rationalise the massacre on the aid ship that sought to bust the blockade of Gaza and how news report after news report uncritically regurgitated the Israeli claim that those aboard the aid ship were armed?”
          Sadly, it worked to judge by people I spoke to at the time.. intelligent people! I was very disappointed.
          Deb

  3. Pascal's bookie 3

    Nice post Bill.

    I might’ve posted this link, (or something like it) before, but if you don’t know about Daniel Hallin’s model for how the media excludes deviance, all the while either pretending to be objective or actively believing they are objective, it’s worth a look.

    http://archive.pressthink.org/2009/01/12/atomization.html

    Jay Rosen, whose blog that is, is well worth keeping an eye on as well, re explaining how media biases form, get reinforced and distort.

    • Bill 3.1

      Thanks for the link PB.

      I was off trying to hunt down another link that I know I posted here quite some time that would have complimented that link quite nicely. It was a journalist explaining the internal dynamics of newspaper reporting and how he had been forced to find work with a United Arab Emirates newspaper after being essentially black listed in the UK due to his inability ( read, unwillingness) to pick up on the rules of the game.

      If I find it later, I’ll link it.

  4. Carol 4

    I think a crucial element of news media bias is the context in which a report appears. The 6pm news on TVOne & 3 tends to be most uncritically biased towards the right – sometimes as much by the way it is framed, as by who/what is included. This seems to take place mostly within the donut hole as described in the article that PB linked to: ie the “zone of consensus”. The front pages of the daily newspapers also seem to operate in this zone, with more critical analysis buried deeper in the paper.

    Also, often the headlines and lead-ins at the beginning of the articles, address this zone of consensus, while more deviant views can be reported later in the article.

    In the UK, I think there has been a major rightward shift in the BBC news, since about the time of the Kelly affair under Bliar’s watch. They are no longer the more balanced news reporters they used to be. They are particularly pro Israeli and will be antagonistic to Galloway.

    In NZ, being a bit removed from the Middle East, I think our MSM tends to take a more neutral stance on Israel-Palestine than the UK MSM.

    Framing of news, the images that are presented alongside the reporting etc, also can influence the bias.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Time for the Left Wing to buy a major MSM outlet or three.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        Msm survive on the revenue garnered through advertising. Cover charges are subsidised by that revenue. The people who are advertising are not generally sympathetic to left wing sentiments. So a left wing publication would be much more expensive than current msm.

        That, historically, was what killed left wing publications.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          Is there a difficulty? As long as the Left wing audience of the MSM Channel had plenty of discretionary money to spend and were happy, perfect consumers always willing to plonk down for the newest and latest gadget, advertisers would flock.

          Oh yeah, I see the problem.

    • Bill 4.2

      “In the UK, I think there has been a major rightward shift in the BBC news…”

      Maybe so. I don’t willingly watch or listen to BBC reports any more. When I lived in the UK the BBC was widely considered to be reactionary apologistic organisation. Then I came to NZ ( very much pre Blair). And because of the dearth of information pertaining to world events I found myself being forced to tune in to their newscasts if I wanted access to any take on what was happening in the world. Then, thankfully, the internet came along.

  5. Ofcom, the BSA and all their ilk are anachronisms dating back to the time when the only broadcast media able to be received by the masses were a handful of TV and radio signals. Without the bandwidth to accommodate a diversity of voices, broadcasters were – quite rightly – expected to achieve balance within each and every individual program segment.

    Later it was relaxed a little so that if one program portrayed one side, another program must portray the other.

    But in an age of truly mass media, these guardians of what we see, hear (and therefore, for many, think) are an impediment to communication and debate.

    Expecting George Galloway to present a balanced program is so illogical as to border on insane. George Galloway’s raison d’etre is to communicate his opinions to as many as will listen. Just as it is, say, Rush Limbaugh’s. One doesn’t have to agree with those opinions to realise that they belong in the public sphere to be debated, without any censorship.

    George Galloway isn’t a journalist and doesn’t claim to be presenting unbiased news. If there’s anything the BSA-type organisations should be investigating, it’s those who claim to be, but don’t.

    But having said that, I return to my original point – get rid of them; their usefulness has ended.

    • Bill 5.1

      “…broadcasters were – quite rightly – expected to achieve balance within each and every individual program segment.”

      Erm, no. The broadcasters were expected to achieve a perception of balance. And even that supposed striving for a balance is something I disagree with on a very fundamental basis. Here’s an illustrative example of why.

      I comment and post here. And nobody is under any illusions as to my general take on things. My position, although not overtly stated is fairly obvious to one and all. So readers of my comments or posts can appraise or interprate the words that I write through their own political/philosophical filters knowing that what I write is unabashedly non-objective. They don’t have to do a double take due to any dubious claims of objectivity.

      And that is the point of media; the dishonesty of couching unstated subjectivity as objectivity. We used to call it propaganda. But like idiots we marvel at the gullibility of past generations when we view their news reports as though we are somehow more wise to current propaganda than they were in their day.

      News items should be delivered in an unabashed subjective fashion with the bias of the reporter or writer declared up front. But I’m dreaming. Because as the link provided by PB illustrates, the reporters of our news are as hook line and sinkered by the propaganda of the day as their viewers. Further, any reporter who was not hook line and sinkered would not be able to make their way in the world of reporting…at best they would achieve the status of an opinion columnist…a very much relegated source of information in an ‘objective’ news environment.

    • A 5.2

      “Without the bandwidth to accommodate a diversity of voices, broadcasters were – quite rightly – expected to achieve balance within each and every individual program segment.”

      I agree with this, but dissent regarding your inference from it to:

      “But in an age of truly mass media, these guardians of what we see, hear (and therefore, for many, think) are an impediment to communication and debate.”

      There is no real “mass media” in the way there used to be. Because running a network was so expensive, people of divergent political persuasions had to “share” the same networks and, more importantly, newscasts. It simply wasn’t economical to have a rabidly partisan news media, even though the news media were still somewhat biased towards the establishment.

      However, rather than being an impediment to communication and debate, the old broadcast media made it happen, because it compelled divergent viewpoints to meet on the same broadcast in programmes watched by a politically diverse audience. After all, everyone had to share.

      Now it is much more economical to run a network, and so it is possible for different networks to produce “news” that appeals to a particular section of the population and to allow “debate” as long as it is in the comfort zone of the target audience.

      Because we don’t have to share, we don’t have to debate, and for the most part that means there is no debate. New Zealand is a small country, so this is not as apparent, but just go to the US and see what media has become there.

      The internet has just made it worse. There is no real debate, just gangs of ordure flinging chimpanzees.

      • prism 5.2.1

        “The internet has just made it worse. There is no real debate, just gangs of ordure flinging chimpanzees.” Well said there is no filt(h)er used by many contributors to the net. But chimpanzees shouldn’t be used as an analogy, they are simpler, don’t have our theory of morals, and are not quite as malicious as we humans.

  6. Jenny 6

    We can expect the whole right wing establishment and the MSM to bay like wolves if the Labour Party were to enact David Cunliffe’s signaled policies “available to get us from a collision course with nature to a future that is both more just and more sustainable.”

    From a report written by ‘climatejustice’ in a comment to the post, Doing nothing in the face of climate change crisis, by Marty G.

    Cunliffe talks tough on climate change

  7. clandestino 7

    George Galloway is a crazy nut, as is the TV channel he works for. The fact that it’s Press TV, Iran’s international state TV channel, should get alarm bells ringing. For the rest, I give you this:

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      George Galloway nailing the US Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee. He is a political leader who makes the Americans look like rubbish.

      • Bill 7.1.1

        Which leaves clandestino where? When even a man so nuts as to role play a cat on national TV lays waste to a US Senate Committee hearing?

        Links to that are in the second para of the post btw…not that Mr clandesto troll bothered to link through or even read the post; merely stuck his hands down his pants to contain his rising excitement at the prospect of bagging a prominent leftie as his other hand hit his closet ‘cat fetish favourites’ links.

        • clandestino 7.1.1.1

          You are a presumptuous pussy aren’t you. I watched that testimony live, I agree with most of what he said, and wish he had been able to do it earlier.
          That said, he is no idol of mine, and I consider myself left of centre on most issues. I find his show to be biased and facts that don’t agree are dodged, like everywhere. Not convinced that one good speech a good politician makes either, so why not be sceptical (and if you put it in the context of Oil for Food and his links with the regime, he didn’t really have a choice but to take a staunch stance).
          Talking of bias, why is it that when someone on here challenges the local red flag brigade, they get given sh*t, but those same people can’t seem to take it themselves. Seems a counterproductive way of spreading the word.

          • Bill 7.1.1.1.1

            What fact or contention did you challenge? You just engaged in bullshit. I couldn’t give a flying sideways fuck if a person appeared foolish or whatever on a pop TV show. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic of the post.

            Get your head around the fact that the censure of Galloway is indicative of a dynamic of repression of speech and that that is the context within which Galloway is mentioned here. Nothing more.

            Now. If you have anything cogent to contribute that is relevant to the topic of the post then do so. Otherwise…

          • Colonial Viper 7.1.1.1.2

            they get given sh*t, but those same people can’t seem to take it themselves

            You have to be frakin kiddin, accusing The Standard commentators of dishing out and not being able to receive back. Its actually pretty damn easy when the shit you fire back is typically tepid and insubstantial.

    • Bill 7.2

      You are so right!

      That George Galloway is a nut in your opinion because he has a 1 hour weekly slot on an .’official enemy’s’ internationally broadcast channel that comes out from London does indeed set alarm bells ringing. Just not the ones you might think.

      That he role played as Rula Lenska’s cat in the Big Brother TV programme is hilarious or even cringe worthy but has nothing what-so-ever to do with the veracity of his politics and even less to do with the subject of the post. (hint?)

      • clandestino 7.2.1

        But it must tell you a bit about his judgement, or lack thereof. His senate testimony may well have been heroic, but I defy you to watch more than a couple of his shows and not see he is hopelessly one-eyed and wouldn’t bat an eyelid at Israel being wiped out.

        • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.1

          he is hopelessly one-eyed and wouldn’t bat an eyelid at Israel being wiped out.

          Meh

        • Bill 7.2.1.2

          By ‘one-eyed’ you mean has an opinion; is most assuredly not impartial? Have you even read the post and attempted to get your head around what it’s about?

          As for your assertion that he wouldn’t bat an eyelid if Israel was wiped out…what do you mean by that? That he favours the annihilation of Israelis? Cause if that’s what your saying, then you obviously have no idea of his political history/perspective. None.

    • Lazy Susan 7.3

      George Galloway was summoned to Washington for a dressing down by a Senate Committee and completely outsmarted his accusers. While I don’t always agree with him he’s intelligent, articulate and informed – hardly a crazy nut.

      Press TV and Al Jazeera are invaluable for getting an alternative view on many issues including the Middle East. If your happy to accept the western consensus then just watch BBC, TVNZ/3 but I’d prefer to reach conclusions by viewing issues through a wider lens.

      • Bill 7.3.1

        Well put.

        But your forgetting that in the world of the clandestinos there can be no “I don’t always agree with”…that there is only room for compliance with accepted truths.

      • clandestino 7.3.2

        Agree Susan. Can’t argue with the second paragraph can I? Except to say I don’t watch much and prefer online print (datacap issues).
        And you’re right about Galloway back then, he came off as sincere, and if you look up his in-Parliament stuff it’s good too. But his current gig is, in my opinion, gratuitous Israel/’West’ bashing and doesn’t help anyone, simply adds fuel to the fire.

        • Lazy Susan 7.3.2.1

          I’m glad we see some agreement clandestino. Al Jazeera is available at certain times of the day on Triangle TV and Stratos on Sky to save the datacap.

          One further point about Galloway. Recently, on “The Nation”, Sean Plunket made a number of accusations about him during their piece on the Kia Ora Gaza convoy. Galloway offered to come on the show the following week to be interviewed and answer those accusations. The Nation and Plunket turned him.

          John Key repeatedly turned down requests to be interviewed by Sean Plunket when he was on Morning Report – even the day after the release of the government’s budget. This tells you much about Galloway, The Nation, Plunket and Key – I’ll leave you to connect the dots.

  8. IMHO many of those that accuse the media of having a bias (be it left or right) generally tend to be people of pronounced political views. If the news/report/story doesn’t agree with their world view then the response appears to be the media must be biased agaianst them

    The left says the MSM is a tool of the right. Yet the right says there’s a liberal bias in the media. Now surely both points of view can’t be right?

    Could it be that some of those who fling accusations of bias about do so because they don’t actually recognise they themselves are biased.

    Nah. Sod it. It’s so much easier to blame someone else isn’t it?

    • Carol 8.1

      Well, randominanity, that’s certainly the argument the MSM tends to use to claim they are unbiased. But, if Bill, & PB’s link are correct (ie that the MSM has shifted to the right in recent times, and operate within a narrow zone of consensus), then it will be hard for those who accept that consensus to see their own biases. So those who take this consensus as “objectivity”, will see anything outside that consensus as biased. How can anyone emersed in such a media-supported right-wing zone of consensus ever make a valid judgement about the media’s bias or lack of it?

      In fact, people who are aware of their own position/bias/subjectivity, are more likely to be able to assess where the MSM is at. The problem is with people who think they are being objectivity (as Bill has pretty much said). Galloway, I would imagine, knows exacty his position, and the difference between his views & the way they hare portrayed by the MSM.

      So it’s necessary tol look at some systematic ways news is reported. For instance, why is John Key mostly treated uncritically by the TV news & front pages of the dailies? Why was Matt McCarten always treated negatively in coverage of the Mana bi-election? Why aren’t the MSM hounding Pansy Wong in the same way they hounded Chris Carter or Tito Phillip Field? Why isn’t the MSM giving a lot of critical coverage of the undemocratic processes of the Key government: CERRA, unprecedented use of urgency etc? Why in comparison was much made of the media of the Clark government Electoral Finance Law, while there’s only a meek acceptance of the key government Electoral Finance Law? Why is it that anything but uncritical coverage of Israel in the US & UK media, is criticised for being anti-Israel? or worse, anti-semetic?

      Claiming the media gets criticised by both the right and the left so must be objective, is a very superficial argument: at best such a claim is misguided, at worst it operates as a smoke screen to obscure media bias.

      In order to support a claim that the media is objective, it’s necessary to present more substantial evidence: eg of numerous examples of systematic, unbiased/objective reporting on some significant, and possibly controversial news issues.

    • Bill 8.2

      Here you go randominanity. A random but (hopefully) illustrative inanity

      The Heretical Broccoli Haters

      Objective : broccoli is a vegetable.
      Objective : broccoli contains races of iron

      Subjective : broccoli tastes nice
      Subjective : broccoli tastes horrid

      Less subjective ; broccoli is good for you

      Imagine that the assertions ‘broccoli tastes nice’ and ‘broccoli is good for you’ are presented as fact. We have subjectivity masquerading as objectivity and the beginnings of an orthodoxy.

      And if we want to imagine that orthodoxy operating on a larger social scale, then various broccoli experts, commissars and high priests ( lets assume a patriarchy, why not?) would need structures to – how should we say? – propagate and nurture the environment that allows their beliefs to be passed off as fact. And if you are comfortable with broccoli, you might variously consider it as quaint, weird or even heretical that people could hold notions that broccoli neither tastes nice and can be bad for you.

      With enough riding on the maintenance of a widespread acceptance of ‘the facts’ surrounding broccoli, broccoli allergies would not be allowed to enter into the debate. The existence of such a condition would be denied in all manner of ways because to admit otherwise would be to question the assumptions on which orthodoxy and power are built. Meanwhile any people who admitted to not liking the taste of broccoli would be marginalised in all manner of ways. Again, because acknowledgement of them or the veracity of their views would constitute a challenge to the orthodoxy that forms the bedrock upon which the power of the incumbent authorities is based.

      So, okay. It’s absurd to imagine swathes of people getting hung up on the merits or otherwise of broccoli. Nobody actually derives power from how broccoli is perceived. But people do derive power from how political matters are perceived. And it’s much the same dynamic, but with much stronger emotional responses (because there is more at stake), that applies to politics as would do to our imaginary broccoli-centric empire.

      Lines of communication/ information, the various media, naturally reflect back to us an image of the world and reinforce a world view that is bound by parameters of correct or acceptable thought as defined by dominant interests. And by drawing enough people into that view, dissenting views (even those that are factually verifiable) are kept out of the picture and beyond the bounds of general contemplation.

      Simple.

  9. look I just choose not to accept that anyone who comes from a particular political angle (be it left or right) has a leg to stand on when accusing others of bias.

    Their very belief system means their assumptions are flawed.

    By the way if you think the average journalist is bound by parameters set by dominant interests then I suspect you haven’t actually met many of them. From what I’ve experienced, and I know a fair few, they tend to be a deeply sceptical bunch who don’t take things at face value. Particularly from your so-called dominant interests.

    I’m not saying the media is perfect but it’s nowhere near the manipulated menagerie some around here make it out to be.

    • felix 9.1

      randominanity, it’s ok to say you didn’t understand the analogy.

      It’s pretty clear you didn’t. Bill is talking about the structure of the house and you think he’s discussing the wallpaper.

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