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Maverick views?

[ 2010-11-09 16:49]     字号 [] [] []  
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Maverick views?

Reader question:

Please explain “maverick views” in this: “Journalistic ethics suggest that maverick views should be published.”

My comments:

Maverick views are opinion that is unusual in that it is unconventional and unorthodox.

Unconventional? Not conventional, not in accordance with conventional wisdom, the general opinion of what’s wrong and right, dumb or smart. A convention can be a great formal meeting, or an agreement that comes out from such a meeting, hence the concept.

Unorthodox? Not Orthodox, i.e. not in accordance with ideas of the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church is officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church, commonly known as the Eastern Orthodox Church. It regards itself as the only true Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ and his Apostles. Hence in common language, being orthodox is synonymous to being official, mainstream, normal, correct, acceptable, etc. Being unorthodox, therefore, is anything but.

Maverick, on the other hand, is derived from American cattle owner Samuel Maverick (1803-70), who refused to brand his cattle as other owners did. In the Wild West in those days, cattle were left to graze in the open range. Owners, therefore, rely on branding (burning a mark on the skin of the animal with a brand, a piece of hot iron) to tell ownership. Maverick, a lawyer, would never brand his cattle – at the risk of loss, of course, as fellow ranchers might catch Maverick’s unbranded cattle, put their own branding on the animals and thus claim ownership to them.

Anyways, Samuel became known for his independent mind and his surname Maverick later became synonymous with any unbranded cattle roaming in the wild. In due course, maverick became accepted as an adjective, descriptive of anyone who does things his own way, even if it goes against the grain of what’s commonly accepted as right or correct.

Here are media examples or people who are considered to be “maverick” for having “maverick views”:

1. A Cardiff University study found British scientists ousted ‘maverick’ colleagues to avoid giving their arguments legitimacy.

In comparison, Swedish colleagues believed exclusion only served to exacerbate problems.

The author said this might explain how controversies around issues such as MMR have become health scares in the UK.

Dr Lena Eriksson surveyed 30 expert scientists from Sweden and the UK about their opinions on a high-profile controversial topic in their field of expertise - genetically modified food.

She found significant differences between the two groups’ attitudes about scientist Arpad Pusztai who was suspended from his workplace after claiming in 1998 that a type of GM potato had adverse effects on the immune systems of rats.

The Swedish scientists were more inclined to take the view that there has to be scope for scientists to make mistakes, and therefore the treatment of Pusztai was to be condemned, regardless of the truth to his claims.

The British scientists on the other hand only said it was wrong to suspend Pusztai when they believed he was right in his conclusions.

When they did not hold the same unorthodox views as a maverick scientist, their first instinct was to shut out any dissenting voice, said Dr Eriksson.

She believes research communities that punish scientists who present contentious results will risk disenchanting an already sceptical public even further.

“This increases the likelihood of scientific controversies moving into a public domain, as the ousted scientists are forced to seek new audiences for their claims.”

- Science creates ‘own mavericks’ - News.BBC.co.uk, August 16, 2004.

2. The Tea Party movement last night wielded a huge impact on the American political process that will ensure its influence for years to come, though it also suffered setbacks to its wilder fringes.

The two big victories of the night, Marco Rubio in Florida and Rand Paul in Kentucky, confirmed that the Tea Parties are not a fly-by-night affair but a real seismic shift in the political landscape that can put fear in the hearts of Republican and Democratic leaders alike. Both victors unseated establishment Republican candidates with the help of populist Tea Party backing, signifying a general push towards the right within US conservatism.

But there were also signs that the leaders of the movement – to the extent that the amorphous, bottom-up Tea Parties have leaders – will have to think carefully about how they chose their candidates after two major figures, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Carl Paladino in New York state, went down to embarrassing defeats.

John Boehner, the likely Speaker of the House of Representatives after the Republicans swept into the majority, gave a clear indication of the sway the Tea Parties now hold over his party’s leadership. He had a conference telephone call with Tea Party activists in his district of Ohio and told them: “I will never let you down.”

Across the board, exit polls suggested that more than one in 10 voters identified themselves as members of the Tea Party movement.

In another important gain for the movement, Nikki Haley, an Asian American, won the governor’s race in South Carolina for the Republicans. Her victory is not only a boon for the Tea Parties but also for Sarah Palin, who endorsed Haley early on.

In New York State, Carl Paladino crashed out against his Democratic opponent Andrew Cuomo.

Paladino was initially enthusiastically backed by the Tea Parties but then became embroiled in a series of damaging revelations, including details of racist and sexist emails he circulated among friends. He also had a contretemps with a journalist.

“Any of my missteps were just me. It's just being human. How can you not misstep in an election process like this?” he said.

Christine O’Donnell, who became the unacceptable face of the Tea Parties, also lost heavily in Delaware. She struggled against media coverage of her youthful dabbling with witchcraft and her maverick views on anything from masturbation to creationism.

Tea Party leaders have insisted they have no regrets about choosing unconventional candidates who signal that this is a change from “politics as usual”. But as the movement shifts from being a mere channel of rightwing anger to being a real political force, it is likely to come under pressure to contain its more extreme edges.

- Tea Party victories show seismic shift in US politics, Guardian.co.uk, November 3, 2010.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


Long haul?

Bed of roses?

Fine tuning?

Red rag?

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)