Friday, June 3, 2011

Civil Discourse and Rational Debate

I read the comics in the newspaper every day - they're my second-favorite feature, right after the crossword puzzle. Today two of the strips touched on a topic that I think about a lot: the state of discourse and debate of issues in the media today. I've reproduced the strips below, with apologies for any copyright violations I may have committed.

I think these comics illustrate nicely the problem that we face when it comes to discussing and resolving the issues that face us today. We can't discuss a topic in a rational way with the objective of arriving at a solution that addresses both sides' interests - now it's, "I'm right and you're an idiot" and there's no middle ground to make room for a negotiated resolution.

This phenomenom is especially prevalent on cable news and the internet where the divide is starkly apparent. In those worlds facts are secondary in importance to strongly held beliefs, and a falsehood if repeated frequently enough becomes fact. And winning the argument becomes more important than discovering and advancing solutions that are good for our nation and its citizens.

So I wonder, how did we arrive at this juncture? When did winning the argument become more important than being right? And when did what's good for me become more important than what's right for all of us? Maybe I'll find the answer in the comics - I certainly won't find it in the news section.

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