Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stop the Shouting

Anyone else tired of the shouting matches and name-calling? This healthcare debate has created a flea market for misinformation that has attracted hot-tempered patrons in record numbers. It is a debate that must be had, but it is nearly impossible to have it in the current environment.

Someone needs to call timeout and get back to an intelligent, rational, respectful discussion. My recent article, Incivility Muzzles Interactive Debate, published in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution asks us to do just that. Take a look and let me know where you stand. Fed up with the insults or madder than Sean Hannity?

11 comments:

robert fortner said...

Nothing to argue about, there. Who could be against a more civil discussion?

tmamone said...

Great article, man! Doesn't the Bible say something about being slow to speak and quick to listen? I think that's what both sides of the issue need to do.

Jonathan Merritt said...

Good comment, tmamone. The problem is that both sides have gotten into a Hatfield-McCoy cycle of slapping each other.

tmamone said...

I think part of it is because it's much easier to let emotion take control, rather than being calm and rational. Trust me, I can be the same way sometimes!

mandreas said...

Excellent piece in the AJC. Nice work. Good examples of the shout-downs and incivility. I also wish our modern day talk-radio and cable TV networks didn't shout constantly with incivility praising and giving this example to the rest of us. The Olbermans or Maddows or Hannitys of the world are awful role models, yet are praised on both sides of the aisle and get great ratings. What does that say about our country?
- Marc Andreas

I am Ravenna said...

In any forum on any topic, there cannot be effective debate without civility.

Justin said...

I'll argue that civility is overrated and worse, that it can be counterproductive in some contexts. To enter into some debates or discussions in a respectful manner lends legitimacy to the opposing view point. There are some points of view, should not be hard to think of some, that should be ridiculed. They are savage and should be treated as such.

The rub is that we all have our own ideas of what is within the acceptable range of debate and what is lunacy. Having said that, I am still not prepared to pretend that some view points deserve to be treated with respect such as Holocaust deniers, or more relevant, people who liken a national health care system to a neo-Nazi like Pogrom.

Jonathan Merritt said...

Justin,

What happens when your objection to one's objection is considered worthy of ridicule? In other words, what happens when society ridicules the things you find ridiculous? It seems the only outcome in that situation would be a shouting match like we've experienced in America over the last 30 years. I think Demoss put it best when he said it is a matter of effectiveness.

Thoughts?

Jm

Jim said...

I agree that entering into the discussion with a conduct of common civility allows for a more productive exchange of ideas. If that is your purpose.

However the recent events at meetings on health care shows two things. One is that some are not willing to listen to a counter argument to the health care debate. The second is that they are parroting the mantras of those that influence them.

That then leads to another discussion of where do we get our information from. If it soley from one political leaning, then have we have given ourselves over to the control of someone to do our thinking?

Still another question is have WE, as a society, adopted the mob attitude and actions?

If so what does that say about us?

redemptivetobacco said...

Jonathan,

Good post. I agree with you in practical terms. You and I can have a civil discussion on a topic like healthcare and find that we probably agree on quite a bit. Unfortunately, our civility won't do anything in the culture of DC. That just isn't how things are done. If I could personally vote out every person in elected office and replace them with those who care more about the people than politics I would.

I just read a post on the two Democrats that were playing Solitare on the computer during a Republicans presentation on his perspectives on the budget proposals. First, playing Solitare during a Senate Session is wrong. Not reading a bill is wrong. (Quite frankly writing any bill that is 1000 pages or more is wrong) However, I'd be willing to bet that there were plenty of Republicans doing the same thing.

It wasn't civil at all, but a politically savy Republican had an idea to snap a shot that would reframe the debate and put focus on the perception that democrats just don't care. That is the game they play - both sides - every day.

I think everyone would agree with you in principle... I just don't know "how" you do it on a national level in our political system. I'd be interested to hear what you might propose.

Keep the articles coming!

Mike Little said...

Jonathan,

Good post. I agree with you in practical terms. You and I can have a civil discussion on a topic like healthcare and find that we probably agree on quite a bit. Unfortunately, our civility won't do anything in the culture of DC. That just isn't how things are done. If I could personally vote out every person in elected office and replace them with those who care more about the people than politics I would.

I just read a post on the two Democrats that were playing Solitare on the computer during a Republicans presentation on his perspectives on the budget proposals. First, playing Solitare during a Senate Session is wrong. Not reading a bill is wrong. (Quite frankly writing any bill that is 1000 pages or more is wrong) However, I'd be willing to bet that there were plenty of Republicans doing the same thing.

It wasn't civil at all, but a politically savy Republican had an idea to snap a shot that would reframe the debate and put focus on the perception that democrats just don't care. That is the game they play - both sides - every day.

I think everyone would agree with you in principle... I just don't know "how" you do it on a national level in our political system. I'd be interested to hear what you might propose.

Keep the articles coming!