To the Editor:
Semantic satiation is when you repeat a word so often that it ceases to have meaning. In my position as an interpreter/translator, I come across this very phenomenon frequently. English-speaking ears simply get tired of hearing the same thing over and over and over again.
I would argue that semantic satiation works not only with words, but also with chunks of text. Recently, I have experienced semantic satiation with this specific text:
Thank you for taking the time to contact my office. Your thoughts and concerns on the issues are invaluable to my work in the U.S. House of Representatives. I hope to have a written response to you in the near future, however if you need immediate assistance please call my Ottawa District office at 815-431-9271.
“Again, thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger’s office has sent out this same canned response to 15 of 23 email inquiries (since February).
Kinzinger’s inattentive communication is problematic. Auto-reply is a tremendously poor mode for conveying how my “thoughts and concerns on the issues are invaluable” to his work. He comes across as wishy-washy when he tells me he “hope[s] to have a written response to [me] in the near future …” then fails to follow up. Closing with the bloodless iteration about how “it is an honor to represent” me and Illinois’ 16th District in Congress is a slap in the face when his behavior indicates he could not care less what this voter thinks.
Rep. Kinzinger may be the darling of TV news, but he consistently demonstrates apathy toward communicating with his constituents. Email his office and either be ignored or receive the digital equivalent of getting sunshine blown up your skirt.
Ask for a town hall meeting and get subjected to a Q&A session that flat out denies his constituents the opportunity to share the thoughts and concerns he claims are “invaluable” to his work.
Kinzinger cannot represent those with whom he refuses to meet.
Kinzinger does not represent those with whom he refuses to civilly engage.
Kinzinger refuses to represent those who challenge him to put people over party.
By this point, I hope semantic satiation has kicked in and the words “Rep. Kinzinger” have lost as much meaning for you as they have for me.