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Murphy’s law is flawed

New York Teacher

Retired Teachers Chapter Leader Tom Murphy [“Two different worlds,” Dec. 12] says, “people look at the same things differently” because “tastes vary.” He then offers a few examples from the arts to illustrate the trivial point. Why, then, did he write this article?

His motivation for doing so manifests a few paragraphs down. He uses four recent examples from politics: impeachment, Social Security, the Affordable Care Act and the situation on the Mexican border. These are serious matters that transcend mere “tastes.”

Murphy says Americans — and he perceives all Americans as falling into one of two groups — view the impeachment of President Trump, Social Security, Obamacare and the issue of illegal immigration in one of two mutually exclusive ways. Murphy’s thesis is that each group views these critical issues based on a contrary set of postulates. I have no quarrel with that.

What I do take exception to is Murphy’s presumptuous morality and the mocking tone he insinuates into his discussion. He does this to magnify the import of the position of each group, extolling the one and ridiculing the other, thereby demonstrating, if only unconsciously, the alacrity with which a person may become smugly and snugly ensconced in his own moral certitude.

But wrapping complex issues of law and ethics into simplistic pronouncements does nothing to convince the astute reader. Rather, Murphy’s column aptly illustrates the problem of confirmation bias, sadly mirroring what the public sees infecting so much of politics and media commentary today.

Stephen L. D’Andrilli, retired

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