Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Note on Long Legislation

One of the most superficial, yet prevalent attacks from conservative Republicans on health care reform legislation has been the (gasp!) length of the bill. It's ridiculous, and WaPo's Ezra Klein provides one of the most clear explanations of why:

But that's not because it says anything substantially different than the original Senate Finance language. Rather, writing laws is not like writing blog posts, or newspaper articles: It requires an archaic, clunky vernacular that spends a lot of time explaining how one piece of text amends another piece of text, and expends a lot of words clarifying the most technical matters at the most granular level. Legal language requires more words than plain English, just as Chinese uses more characters. When people complain that legislation is slightly longer than a very long book, they're saying something about their understanding of the difference between legal language and plain English, not about the law in question.
It's slightly understandable, though no more valid a complaint to lodge, coming from right-wing bloggers and conservative activists. When the same complaint is coming from both state and federal representatives, who simply know better than the very words coming out of their mouths, it's just laughable and insulting.

This has been another edition of They're Either Morons, or They Think You Are. You're welcome.

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