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Owmapow’s Sister

by Channie Greenberg

Hi, Owen! Even though we don’t talk much, you’re my only sibling. Excepting your lowbrow humor, expressed in your annual birthday salutation; “Greetings to Dr. Brownstone at Brown (University of) Stone,” I rarely hear from you. So, I’m asking you to look over some of my newest ideas. Note: I’m seeking funding from The Association of Senior University Women.

Our society is composed of many types of people but is guided by only a fraction of them. There exists a dearth of information on communication ethics, in general, and on the ethics of communicating voter options, more explicitly.

Often, persons charged with social responsibility seem unable to extricate themselves from the quag created by the rhetoric/philosophy nexus. To boot, policy makers, time and again, muddle descriptions about their ethical accountability to the nation and to its citizens.

Mysteries abound around the hegemonical factors coloring the election process. We need to: transcend the usual gamut of voter experiences, allow political discussions to become more generally accessible, and show how communication morality is an applied process.

We must contextualize formal treatments of topics as limited by human understanding of occurrences’ contexts and by human articulations therefrom. Consider recent race riots and consider pandemic-influenced business losses. Our limitations in grasping a priori propositions, when negotiating goings-on’s importance and expressions, cause us to simultaneously and confusingly legitimize conflicting views.

To address these concerns, my study will test statements about morality’s implicit and explicit impressions on the discourse of public parties and on the discourse about consciousness-raising in citizens’, politicians’, and institutions’ communication. This research will inspect links among communication ethics, invention, identity, and ideology as those links apply to interpersonal, group, and mass media obstructions.

It will provide, as well, details about creativity, designation, and theory building’s morally significant interactions. What’s more, it will probe ways in which muddled individual and institutional roles impact public policy and freedom.

For data, this study will gauge federal government, national newscast, and private individuals’ election communications and will assess metacommunications of the same. It will utilize at least five hundred samples and will lay emphasis on alleged:

Philosophical topoi illuminating language’s pre-established messages tend to ignore language’s processes. Such communications tend to discount information about texts and events since they pose social narrative primarily as imperative discourse.

What’s more, context-free quantitative linguistic analysis is problematic for resolving that complexity in that such analysis tends to discard data generated by communication’s progressions and in that such analysis fails to show the range of dialectical phenomena, establish norms for those phenomena, and account for human influences on those phenomena.

Therefore, this study’s findings will be interpreted via rhetorical criticism. More exactly, its data will be filtered to reveal their normative dimension, i.e., undergirding moral philosophy; descriptive dimension, i.e., cultural morality; and metatheoretical dimension, i.e., metatheories of morality.

Last, in its evaluation phase, this study will link constructs among ideologies, icons, and virtue, make palpable the influence of individually and socially held beliefs about communication morality on communication about elections, and contrast contemporary means of resolving mercurial moral systems.

Further, it will measure coercion, consensus, compromise, and systems of ranking (including hierarchy and prayer), and will calculate how these results, respectively, create understanding, conviction, and emotional stases of comparative worth.

I hope that this study will demonstrate the link between invention and communication morality, too. It will explicate the connection between conceptual genesis and conceptual differentiation, some corollaries of creativity on communication uniformity, plus some effects of sound bites, units of consequence, and kinds of media on the transferability of ideas.

Communication ethics are best informed by the utilitarian similitude between meaning and morality. Techniques that illuminate the intersection of deeds and words and that incorporate the best of experientialism and of objectivism empower us. Weigh that balloting is psychological, not logical, and as such, that this study is needed.

Owen, thanks, in advance, for your input.


* * *


I am sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to you. After my female butterfly ray birthed seven pups, three of my males were fighting to impregnate her. I had to place her in a different aquarium to protect her litter from those males’ aggressions.

Anyway, I’m here, now. Attached, please find some of my work on communication ethics. I envision my essays as book chapters. I have long sought to coauthor a project with you. I’m open to reasonable presentations/representations/modifications of my work.

As you know, I’m fond of writing books. Do you ever think about the years that I spent fashioning Estuary Creature Delights and Deep Water Creature Delights? I believe that my ideas, in conjunction with yours, will find funding and will quickly receive a book contract. I’m willing to be the one to solicit peer critiques of our project.

Please recall, too, that early on, while midwifing ocean critters, I forever talked about the nature of “good,” and of “bad.” Additionally, before that period, I had articulated a strong response to Mom’s militancy about chores and allowance.

My attachments on communication ethics are worthy of your time. I’m glad that you shared some of your newest ideas with me.


* * *

Dear Big Brother:

When we were small, you included me in four square games and taught me how to pitch a softball. Moreover, you encouraged my scholarship from kindergarten, onward. If not for you, I might not have known the difference between a rhombus and a parallelogram, or between a pyramid and a tetrahedron, at least until I learned how to read.

While you are a great brother, a kind man, an insightful instructor, and an enviable lover of wildlife, we have located ourselves in distinctly different academic fields. In addition, you and I dwell at different levels on the scholarly strata.

In short, sibling dear, I cannot risk my reputation by having a family member who works outside of my discipline coauthor my research. In fact, my forthcoming study is so important that I’ll invite only a dozen of my most perceptive graduate students to complete the concommitant grunt work.

I asked for your feedback because the politicizing of academia has made me reluctant to talk to my peers about these ideas. The existence of forces that have turned the ivory tower into an ideological bayou have reinforced the need for my study. Yet it’s essential that my ideas get presented in a peer-reviewed journal or, better, as a book by a scholarly press! When I attain those ambitions, my thoughts might incite a handful of respected thinkers to raise questions about the pedagogical status quo.

Unfortunately, academic governance looks unfavorably on folks lacking my credentials. More to the point, as my lone sibling, and as a man with a broad, albeit empirical focus (my work remains reliant on hermeneutics), I feel safe asking for your regard, but not for your content.

Whereas rhetoricians and philosophers have long dealt with the topic of communication ethics, biologists have not. My research concentrates on words’ meanings in relationship to actions’ magnitudes.

You study the causality of ecosystems. Yes, you’ve had success teaching science writing, a kind of applied rhetoric. Nonetheless, I hold you as better at describing cartilaginous and lobe-finned fish than at describing enthymemes and ethos.

My emphasis on how communication ethics shapes creativity, self-concept, and modes of transmitting beliefs is very unlike your focus on shelled beings. I know nothing of estuaries. You know nothing of interpersonal persuasion, except as intention determines which of your male rays will mate with your female.

Likewise, my knowledge of the last twenty-five hundred years of Western communication ethics fails to overlap with your knowledge of saltwater diversity. Furthermore, where I want to espouse solutions to electoral college dilemmas, you’re driven by pollution’s bearings on Cambarus aculabrum and on overfishing’s harm to Orconectes.

I appreciate your interest in my work. I’m thrilled that you support me. However, given that you lack the knowledge relevant to my endeavor, I cannot accept you as my coauthor.


* * *

Dear Rachel:

I am deeply hurt by your assumption that I lack professional proficiency researching ethics. For decades, my scholarship has been dedicated to moral questions about interspecies interactions. Besides, I have long attempted to create links between my research and “commonplace” problems like the global water supply and like international waters’ unenforced fishing limits. You admit as much.

I want to enlighten the world about the ways in which our moral attachments, or, unfortunately, our lack thereof, to shelled and fleshy sea creatures have influenced our thinking. Toward that end, I created an abridged history of the study of language as it is used in oceanographic research. I, too, have published discussions concerning ways in which academics ought to use their expertise to negotiate widespread problems. Water pollution, coral reef death, and overfishing affect us all.

I feel misunderstood. I also feel unfavorably and unnecessarily judged.

Your Brother

* * *

Dear Owen:

For decades, I hated being your younger sister. I was always held up to whatever you had accomplished. Although it was I who thought to add Ramshorns to our family’s tank, raised goldfish fry for profit (so that you could buy those extra exotics), and protested our school’s frog dissection requirement, you were the one that our district lauded with awards. It was you, not I, who regularly had his picture in the local paper.

Unsurprisingly, as a grownup, I turned my back on science. In its place, I became betrothed to the humanities. At the same time as I never doubted your genius or your sensitivity, for the sake of my sanity, I had to distance myself from you. Like your beaten male stingrays, I “fail” when rivalled.

I have never intended to become your appendage. Even now, I am a middle-aged woman with unique feelings, who is adept in her own right.

It behooves you to think of me as an intellectual with exceptional merits rather than as your kid sister. If I look to you, it’s not to invite you to improve my work, but to ask you to validate it. I allowed myself to become vulnerable by sending you my research ideas as an apparently lame attempt to better our connection. I would never ask your permission, per se, for my scholarship. Owen, you can do better!


* * *


I always thought that Mom and Dad loved you best. I can’t believe you’ve long resented me. I was jealous of you. You were the smarter, more attractive and more popular child.

Your activities were touted to relatives. Mine were minimalized. Remember my full college scholarship? Mom and Dad didn’t applaud that achievement. More accurately, they asked me why I didn’t also receive a housing stipend.

When I became an Assistant Professor, they asked me why I didn’t start my career as an Associate Professor. When I received National Science Foundation monies, they told me that my award size was embarrassingly small.

Inversely, when two boys asked you to the prom, that became our family’s most newsworthy event for a full season. When you were offered early admission to an Ivy League school, our parents called all of our aunts and uncles to crow about your success. When you received tenure, since Mom and Dad had just gotten Internet access, they posted your promotion on all of their social media accounts.

I never tried to compete with you. Our parents’ need to liken us to each other came from their own insecurities. I just wanted to be the best sibling I could be for you. I guess I mistakenly interpreted your email as an invitation to work together.

My department, my summer job as a science writing instructor, and my volunteer hours as a docent at a science museum more than fill my schedule. As well, I am an active participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ breeding program. I’m a busy guy. Also, I don’t need any more publications. Like you, I received tenure decades ago. I just wanted to relate to you.

I guess coauthoring is not the best way to be your sibling. How about, instead, when you next present findings at any California-based conference, you join me for tacos? I’ll order spicy for you and mild for me.


Copyright © 2021 by Channie Greenberg

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