Economics of Publishing
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William Saletan: Unclear on the Concept of "Reality" (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)

Ezra Klein notices that Slate's William Saletan has no ability to distinguish between things that really happen and fictional things that happen on TV. I agree with Ezra: this shows that Saletan is more than a few centimeters short of a full meterstick:

Ezra Klein: Misunderstanding Big Love: Misunderstanding Big Love: This is a very weird column by Will Saletan on Big Love:

It's hard to sustain a polygamous household. It's not for everybody. Most of us are too jealous. But some people aren't, the show suggests. And for them, maybe we should tolerate or legalize plural marriage.

So, let's look at how this on-air experiment is going. Talented writers and actors are trying to make plausible the idea that American women raised in an age of sexual egalitarianism are bighearted enough to share a husband.

Saletan then goes on to list instances in the show that prove pleasant polygamous relationships inevitably crumble amidst jealousy, hierarchy, and wifely overreach. But read that line again: instances from the show. Saletan's arguing that a team of committed, capable screenwriters wanted to normalize polygamy and argue for its viability, but accidentally came up with a program proving just the opposite. In which case, there are three explanations:

  1. The writers are talented, but polygamy is so inherently unworkable that even a fantasy-land conception somehow mutates into a tangled web of interpersonal conflict and sexual unworkability;
  2. The writers are not talented, and simply failed in their quest;
  3. The writers are not trying to burnish polygamy's credentials, never sought to show it as workable, and Saletan is simply assuming intentions that aren't there, which explains why the narratives concocted by the writing staff all argue against polygamy's desirability.

Which seems likeliest to you?