Thursday, April 29, 2010

Docker Awards for Misusing Music as a Metaphor For Life

If you follow the news a lot you may have noticed that one of the Supremes has decided to retire. No, not a singer; a judge on the Supreme Court. President Obama gets to nominate his replacement. The Senate gets to advise and consent to it. Everyone has an opinion.

Former oboist Meghan Daum, in an editorial in the Los Angeles Times, has an opinion. Her opinion is that an oboist should rule us from the Supreme Court bench. Why?
Because oboists may vary in talent, discipline, ethnicity, gender and taste in unfashionable clothes, but we all have one thing in common: We're just about the most judgmental people on the face of the Earth. Ergo, one of us should sit on the highest court in the nation.
That's actually as good as her argument gets. Nothing about how the precision required to play the oboe might make someone better able to adjudicate minute details of a legal argument. Nothing about how learning to blend the potentially penetrating tone of the oboe with other instruments in an ensemble might teach a judge to balance the feelings of opposing communities. Not even a suggestion that the joys of playing instrumental music might give a justice valuable relaxation time from the pressures of being the ultimate arbiters of just about everything.

Daum does mention one physical issue of oboe playing:
It also means blowing so hard into them that you risk a brain aneurysm every time you try to hit a high D.
But this is actually an argument against choosing an oboist for the Supreme Court. It means the person might die at a younger age - and Presidents want to pick someone who will be around for as long as possible, so their own personal influence on the court lasts that long as well.

Since I find this article so amazingly pointless, I've decided to reanimate the long-dead Docker Awards.  These awards are bestowed by me, their namesake, for any reason I deem appropriate.  This Docker, for Misusing Music As A Metaphor For Life In General And Politics In Particular, goes to Meghan Daum and to the L.A. Times for printing her piece on the editorial page.

I've discussed the subject of musical qualifications for people in public office before. Check out this Mixed Meters post, Unqualified For President. After suggesting that anyone who actually runs for President should, for that very reason, not be given the job, I respond to a journalist who suggested that Mike Huckabee (remember him) was not a good candidate because he played the bass. In that case, the journalist actually had some arguments that were to the point. I gave counter-arguments about why a bass player might be a good President. (Of course, in many non-musical ways, Huckabee's qualifications were lacking.)

Here's another post, Artistic Politicians, somewhat to the point.  The politicians are Nixon (a former second violinist) and Hitler (who suggested that artists, for example cubists, who do not accurately reproduce the human form in their work should be sterilized).  (No, I did not make that up.)

And I've even written about the oboe before. Check out Combining Four-Letter Words, Oboe + Blog.

Check out this video about how playing the oboe doesn't really qualify you to play NFL football.

Justice Tags: . . . . . . . . .


Kraig Grady said...

Pavel seemed alright

John Steinmetz said...

But . . . but . . but it was a joke. Okay, maybe it was only amusing for those of us who know oboists, but I thought it was very entertaining--especially for an op-ed piece.

David Ocker said...

Well, I've known a few oboists - a couple, but not all, have been very opinionated. And I knew the piece was a joke - but it didn't seem terribly funny. I tend to react badly to "humor" on the Editorial page no matter what the subject because it smacks of dumbing down the newspaper's content.

If this piece had ANY point at all, it was that an opinionated, judgmental person is needed on the Supreme Court. This seems 100% wrong to me. And I thought my reasons why an oboist might make a good justice were at least as good as Meghan Daum's. Better.

But I can also understand that double reed players might thrill to see the name of one of their instruments in larger, bold face type no matter what the reason.