Sunday, July 10, 2005

More Regarding Political Discourse

I was pleasantly suprised by Mike Brock last week, when he pleaded for calmer discourse, something I don't recall seeing before on his blog very often (maybe because I did not read him that much, but I'm more likely to now). He made some reasonable requests to tone down the emotional rhetoric (here and there), and he mostly received support, but also some character bashing from some hardline conservatives who just stopped short of calling Mr. Brock a sellout.

I would like to answer some of his critics, who accuse him of soft-pedalling, or "playing nice" by listing here some good reasons to heed his advice:
  1. When everyone is shouting and cursing at each other and calling other people names, the political atmosphere becomes toxic, as it has become increasingly so in recent years.
  2. It polarizes people and drives them apart, so basically the side with the loudest voices runs the show with and by the force of their volume.
  3. People like that also say that if you are not one of us, you're one of them (sound familiar?)
  4. If you are a centrist (like me), then you will be accused of not standing for anything, you're a populist, or you will go with whatever is trendy, and you have no solid, encompassing principles. Even most fence-sitters don't like to feel that they're being beaten about the head and made being afraid to question the speaker (myself excepted, I usually answer back, but not in kind).
  5. It gives a serious disincentive to listen to the other person's opinion or side.
All that Brock was trying to say was to keep discourse at some level of calm, because when everyone is shouting and trash-talking each other, the atmosphere becomes toxic and people become more polarized. It's like one side is trying to beat the other with brute rhetorical force and noise volume, and who would like to be subject to that, much less want to give in to it? Also, why are so many people doing it anyway? what is the worst that's happening right now? Is this world really going down the toilet? And if it is, so what? Is it any reason to go half-cocked? Seriously!

It may seem better than fighting it out with guns or even hand-to-hand combat, but it's really not. It leads to the worst excesses of political or even religious fanaticism. I believe that we in the West have toned down our rhetoric somewhat since the last American election, but so much more needs to be done. We can disagree, we can be angry, but we must always remain in control of ourselves, or degenerate into a mob mentality. Do we really want wildly emotional types to be running our governments? When the masses are panicking, we should hope that the government does not act out of panic or emotionalism, because it leads to irrational thinking and rash decisions which we almost always regret later.

So in closing, I would like to address all of Brock's critics, like Anselm(not the saint), OC, DT et al., when I restate that he is not saying that you shouldn't be critical or even angry. But acting and writing out of pure, untempered emotion just makes you look fanatical and unstable, and it doesn't matter from which side it's coming from, why would anyone listen to such talk anyway, except for their own idle amusement? Think about it.

2 comments:

Don said...

If that's Brock's poinbt, I'd have to agree with him. However, seeing as he's historically the instigator of these catfights, I'm not feeling it a whole bunch.

Further, if he's got his whole readership coming down on him for this declaration, it likely has a lot to do with the readership he's cultivated, largely an echo chamber of the libertarian right. He can claim "Liberals are not evil" (June 24) and call himself moderate, but the lie is put with declarations like "...the funny thing about leftists; they refuse to accept reality or use comparative analysis to draw their conclusions. Rather, they live in a complete fantasy world..." (June 12). Okay, stupid doesn't equate to evil, but it falls into the same ad hominem category. Dr. Brock should start by healing himself.

Looney Canuck said...

You know, Don I kinda thought that way about him, and was hoping he saw the futility of employing personal attacks to get his point across. He made a noble stand, we can only hope that he practices what he preaches, if not, I will simply take him off my blog listing and dismiss him as just another fire-breathing idealist.

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