Saturday, July 28, 2007

More on civility

Yesterday, while talking about the helicopter crash here in Phoenix, I touched briefly on the loss of civility in our culture. This came to my mind in part because of a segment on the Hugh Hewitt show last evening. He and his guest were reviewing some of the submitted questions for the GOP YouTube debate, and they and I were both struck by the tone of the questioners. So many of the clips featured people being major-league smart-alecks. Now, I have a long history of sarcastic wit, it probably is even genetic to a certain extent for me, so I can appreciate the approach (I have, however, sworn it off, but that is for another time and post).

The problem with sarcasm in adversarial relationships (and debate questioners are typically adversarial towards their targets) is that the sarcasm effectively ends communications. The target of such attitude would really like to propose a suitable destination for the attacker, who is themselves obviously looking for a fight. So, rather than doing anything to mitigate the dissension and find a place of conversation, the sarcasm guarantees that neither participant in the exchange is even vaguely open to communication. And both leave feeling that they got the better of the situation.

Personally, I would love to see a lot less attacking, fewer sound-bite arguments, and more open discussion of what we purport to be talking about. With all the sarcasm, there isn't much communicating going on right now.

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