Coarsening of Public Discourse

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on September 14th, 2009

Has American public discourse ever been as vitriolic and dangerous as it is now? If not, what’s the explanation? Is it protecting the wealthy by concentrating on relatively distractions such as the Obama “takeover,” and other issues that don’t go to the heart of the inegalitarian character of American society? It is possible for us to reverse the trend? What steps are needed to do so? Last night a cable station broadcast presented an exchange between a preacher and a gay talk show host. The preacher indicated that he would not have a problem with someone assassinating the president and told the talk show host that he should die of brain cancer like Teddy Kennedy. Can we just write this off as the Kooky fringe? Or should we be alarmed? And if the latter, what’s the remedy? The only remedy can be a concerted effort on the part of the responsible figures–are there any left?–on all sides of the political spectrum to denounce such discourse. Vitriol can lead to violence and even when it doesn’t, it certainly prevents intelligent discussion about fundamental matters of national concern.


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