Friday, January 14, 2011

Taking personal responsibility for reducing the temperature of the heated discourse

Want to cool the tone of  national debate? We can begin by turning  off the cable flame throwers. Shun them.  It is an old fashioned method of showing disapproval  of thoughts or acts and it can have a very practical effect..

The reason the shrill and and angry talk show personalities  have found success is that they attract a large number of listeners. They are entertaining, after all.  Audience share in turn generates advertising income.

While the nation has become polarized, so has the media. Media and politicians feed each other.  Polarization begets more polarization, with opinion media giving wings of exposure to political demogogues and with politicians happy to provide more of the  red meat audiences love.

There are very liberal talkers and channels and very conservative ones. There is nothing wrong with  media taking different views on issues and making their bias their brand. When we press their number on the remote, we have a good idea of what will  be their slant on the issues.The arguments may be one-sided, but it is natural we prefer to hear those who agree with our preconceived notions and gut feelings. 

The problem comes with those  who express their views with words that encourage  and even urge angry conflict, sometimes making mountains out of molehills or distorting the truth, ignoring solid evidence to the contrary, and using analogies of violence..  We should not empower them by providing them with a large audience share. .  Turn them off; turn the channel to  others  who do not shout anger to the rafters. Granted, it is easy to turn off  those with whom you disagree; the hardest is to shun those with whom you agree, but who employ a shrill delivery and hyper angry tone .Instead, tune on to  those who provide a serious discussion that includes all sides.  It may not be quite as entertaining, but old fashioned shunning can change the tone of our national debate. .

1 comment:

  1. It's nearly impossible to find "those who provide a serious discussion that includes all sides" without paying undue homage to people who choose their own facts or who ignore scientific evidence that contradicts their interpretation of THEIR book.