Hawkins’ First Rule Of Modern Political Communications AKA The Jackass Rule — Oh, And Vagina!
There is a glut of information out there. ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, newspapers, talk radio, websites, blogs, tea parties, the occupy movement, interest groups, politicians….it’s just endless and everyone wants your attention. Scratch that; they NEED your attention again and again and again.
You ever heard someone say, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door?” Well, that’s not even remotely true in politics. Marketing and having a big platform will beat quality 99 times out of a hundred — which is not to say that people with clever marketing or big platforms have nothing worth hearing to say. To the contrary, many of them became large because they did have a lot of interesting, worthwhile things to say.
However, the point is that even if a radio host who’s twice as talented as Rush Limbaugh goes on the air tomorrow in stink hole, Nebraska, chances are that it will be a decade or two, even if all goes well, before he can compete with Rush in audience size.
In order to combat this phenomenon, people have been forced to become more and more outrageous in an effort to be heard. Saying something extraordinarily offensive or shocking is much more likely to allow you to cut through the noise than expressing the most cogent, rational thought.
A Michigan elected who was censored after using the word ‘vagina’ in an abortion debate performed controversial play Vagina Monologues on the steps of the state Capitol in Lansing last night.
Lisa Brown and ten other female legislators read the play where the word is featured over 100 times alongside the play’s author, Eve Ensler in front of an estimated 2,500 people.
What started as a personal protest against Ms Brown’s one-day gagging order turned into a rally for women’s rights and freedom of speech.
Brown was silenced during a heated debate of a proposed bill restricting abortions. She said: ‘Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but “no” means “no.”‘
Democratic Rep. Barb Byrum, was also barred from speaking last Thursday because she referred to vasectomies during the debate.
She told the crowd she was ‘overwhelmed by the worldwide attention.
Before the play began, Ensler joined Brown and Byrum on the Capitol steps and called for an apology from the Republicans who barred them from speaking.
‘These women stood for our rights,’ Ensler said to applause.
‘The vaginas are out. We are here to stay.’
During a heated debate on Wednesday Ms Brown, who is Jewish, spoke against a proposed bill which would further regulate abortions.
Yes, nothing settles a dispute about proper decorum better than embittered, hyper-sensitive old women screaming “vagina” on the Capitol steps. Yet and still, it did get lots of attention. Of course, one might question whether it’s a good thing to get lots of attention for yammering on about your vagina in public.
This leads to what I like to think of as Hawkins’ first rule of modern political communications: Anything said by someone who isn’t already extremely influential that breaks through the media noise will probably make him sound like a jackass to most people.