Overton: Anti-Chauncey movement drowned out by silliness

BY JON OVERTON | APRIL 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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Riding through town on horseback, shouting, ringing a cowbell, and nude at 3 a.m. will effectively attract attention. However, if you have a serious message, it will surely be lost.

Some opponents of Iowa City’s Chauncey construction project have taken a similarly ineffective approach. Members of the Iowa Coalition Against the Shadow, opponents of the Chauncey, have begun firing wild accusations against the City Council and grossly exaggerating the effects the Chauncey decision will have.

While the members of the Sahdow Coalition have good intentions, using radical language without any explanation hurts their cause.

Chauncey’s opponents have raised some concerns, including the shadow it would cast over a residential neighborhood it borders, how it affects New Pioneer Co-op and the Bike Library, and the loss of the park that the Chauncey would replace.

But the Chauncey’s opponents often exaggerate the effects that its construction will cause.

“This is a 100-year mistake in the making,” said Jon Fogarty, a leader of the Shadow Coalition.
Let’s hold on for a second. The city lists 40 parks on its website. There will still be 39 other parks and a shadow over the nearby neighborhood is just a shadow.

Another supporter of the Shadow movement, Mary Gravitt, wrote in a letter to the editor titled “The ghettoization of College Green” (DI, March 25) the Chauncey decision is representative of “Third-World-style corruption and greed,” and it will turn the College Green neighborhood into a ghetto and pits the power elite against the middle class.

These absurd points often go unexplained. Bombastic, apocalyptic rhetoric can provide a superior feeling of moral indignation when you’re the one using it. But when you’re not, it sounds like pure lunacy.

Not only will this language fail to win people over, the over-the-top tone gets in the way of whatever decent points the Chauncey’s opponents make.

Grandiose spectacles like the theoretical drunken night horseman and the fiery denunciations of the Chauncey grab attention, but they will only sabotage the Iowa Coalition Against the Shadow’s credibility.

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