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Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Old 03-13-17, 07:56 AM
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Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Recently saw an excellent segment on Charlie Rose (with guest host interviewing Frank Bruni of NYTimes and Jonathan Haidt, NYU sociologist). Although the discussion centered around free speech and censorship on campus, a lot of it addressed the approach of young Millennials toward debate. In essence, there was some agreement that it seems that young people are being taught to insult rather than to argue. And that they won't put up with their ideas being challenged whether in the classroom or in public.

(Here's a link to the 30-minute segment. https://charlierose.com/videos/30146)

The issue is cropping up elsewhere and addresses a problem addressed by President Obama in his commencement address at Howard University last year when he reminded graduates of the importance of "listening to those with whom you disagree." (Those last two lines cribbed by me from Time magazine).

The March 13, 2017 issue of Time had a 1 1/2 lead article in their "The View" op-ed section on the issue of "The Right to Speech vs. the Right to Censor." Again, it focused on campus speech, but it also addressed the larger problem of public discourse.

Here's one paragraph from the section:

"But that's changing--we now live in an increasingly polarized and tribal country. We've sorted ourselves digitally, which makes us less likely to encounter opposing viewpoints and less worried about offending our like-minded pals. Instead of fueling a marketplace of ideas, as the founders envisioned, speech becomes a way for groups to police their own boundaries while lobbing rhetorical bombs against opponents. The aim is not to debate but to dominate."

Do others see that analysis being routinely confirmed?
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Old 03-13-17, 08:02 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Yes, this is correct. It's extremely disheartening. And people are much more tribal when they can hide behind a device screen.
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Old 03-13-17, 08:12 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

I actually feel happy when a bigot complains about something hurting their feelings.
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Old 03-13-17, 08:37 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Originally Posted by Lt Ripley View Post
I actually feel happy when a bigot complains about something hurting their feelings.
And this is why I think most people stay away from this area. It has turned just a handful of posters throwing out childish name-calling and insults. #sad.
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Old 03-13-17, 08:40 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Which is worse, bigotry or a message stated in a way someone doesn't like?
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Old 03-13-17, 08:57 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

I see it all the time in the comments sections of news sites. Posters are shouting past each other like speakers on soap boxes in Hyde Park. They would rather hurt someone else's feelings than convince them.

One of the consequences is that I don't discuss politics with people at work. I'm afraid that it will just devolve into bad feelings. I don't think I'm the only one either, because I almost never heard anyone discuss politics in the lunchroom during the entire election. So no one I work with is hearing opposing viewpoints from people they know and respect.
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Old 03-13-17, 09:09 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

I have no problem matching the actual meaning of the message I am replying to, no matter how politely the message was stated.

At least I am not rough on Draven anymore. He still soft but his head is in the right place.
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Old 03-13-17, 09:09 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Originally Posted by Lt Ripley View Post
Which is worse, bigotry or a message stated in a way someone doesn't like?
Nevermind. My message was lost.
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Old 03-13-17, 09:13 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Your message wasn't lost. I still do not feel bad for those who expect "Good day, sir" when their message is bigotry.
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Old 03-13-17, 09:19 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Good point in the OP, but it's not just millennials. It's people of all ages and backgrounds who refuse to step outside of their "bubble".
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Old 03-13-17, 09:22 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Fear and loathing.
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Old 03-13-17, 10:25 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

I honestly don't know how much this is legitimately becoming more of a problem vs how much is the 'good old days' syndrome of yearning for something that never existed. I mean, you can look back to the founding of this country and see some pretty strong insults being thrown back and forth, albeit they were typically more lyrical than those we see today. In more recent history, for many years, liberals were commie scum and conservatives were fascist pigs. I've heard horrible things consistently said about every president who's served in my adult life (Clinton and on). I didn't hear as much about Reagan and Bush 1, but I was a kid then and grew up in a conservative bubble, so I don't know if opposition to them was more civil or if I simply was never exposed to it.

I think we encounter more venom now than in the past, just as we encounter more of every type of communication, but I have no idea if the amount or nature of it has actually changed all that much. And honestly, I don't really have a problem with an insult if there's a reasoned position behind it. I'd much rather engage in debate/disagreement with someone who's smart and insults me from time to time than a polite dumbass. And of course both are far superior to the rude dumbass with a superiority complex, which is the class most people are probably thinking of when they bemoan the current civility in debate.
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Old 03-13-17, 10:32 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Originally Posted by cpgator View Post
It has turned just a handful of posters throwing out childish name-calling and insults. #sad.
More and more its become monkeys throwing their poo.
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Old 03-13-17, 10:37 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

nope. Republicans spent 8 years demonizing the previous President and Democrats, insult him personally and actively tried to delegitimize him with the Muslim and birthism crap. Trump spent the entire campaign insulting his opponents, engaging in disgusting and vile threats to jail his political opponents, etc and the Republucans supported all of that by voting him into office. no, you dont get a pass for anything. Republicans own this.
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Old 03-13-17, 10:57 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Originally Posted by chowderhead View Post
nope. Republicans spent 8 years demonizing the previous President and Democrats, insult him personally and actively tried to delegitimize him with the Muslim and birthism crap. Trump spent the entire campaign insulting his opponents, engaging in disgusting and vile threats to jail his political opponents, etc and the Republucans supported all of that by voting him into office. no, you dont get a pass for anything. Republicans own this.


Correct.
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Old 03-13-17, 10:57 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

While enjoying the , I feel that it might be good to add that the sentiments from the OP were not so much about partisan political comments but just observations from some media and campus sources who deal with this on a daily basis and have studied it. They were talking about all viewpoints (political, religious, social, etc.).

In their view, there has been a distinct shift in attitudes toward discourse and even showing any interest in finding common ground. According to them, they have noticed a more pronounced antagonism toward even allowing opposite viewpoints to be expressed in their presence (what Time magazine characterized by saying "In America today, speech is everywhere. It's the listening that has gone missing".

Keep in mind that these observations are being made by those who, by their own admission, are not "religious" and consider themselves to be social liberals. As Max said, rude discourse has always been around. But what these observers are saying is that there is a current tendency to demand the right not to be offended by censoring speech, shouting down speakers during debates (when not physically attacking them), demanding "trigger warnings" for ideas that may offend, etc. I believe the term used by one of the speakers was the "fragile" generation who appear to believe that exposure to other viewpoints is not to be tolerated and that any challenge to one's own views is an assault.

I think the observation above that the attitude isn't necessarily confined to Millennials but to anyone living in a bubble is right on the money.

It makes me wonder how many consider if they live in some type of "bubble" in which they rarely encounter different viewpoints and form opinions largely upon outside information. Also, if people stay in that bubble because it seems non-threatening, safe, and reaffirming of convictions.

It's interesting from a sociological viewpoint, but the polarizing effect it has is alarming to some (as some posters have said).
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Old 03-13-17, 10:59 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

A thread about arguing designed to instigate arguing. Useless.
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Old 03-13-17, 11:06 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Originally Posted by cungar View Post
A thread about arguing designed to instigate arguing. Useless.
Doesn't that sort of sentiment seem to confirm the viewpoint of the observers?

When they make the point that "it's the listening that's missing" and that's interpreted as "designed to instigate arguing," that appears to be exactly what they're talking about.

That's like saying that observers who decry violent protests are trying to instigate violent protests. Does that make any sense?

Why does everything have to be an argument? Whatever happened to discussion...as in, "You state your view, now I have my turn, now it's your turn...?"

And when no one is persuaded, at least both sides have a better understanding of the other's views, has had a chance to ask questions (rather than just idly speculating about "what they are thinking,") etc. And, occasionally, there is common ground found or even persuasion.

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Old 03-13-17, 11:14 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Loath as I am to concede the point, I and my pinko commie lib pals spent Bush II's administration griping about him, including challenging the veracity of his first term's election, so there's blame to go around on all sides AFAIK.
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Old 03-13-17, 11:33 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

We all know how his last "my turn" posting went.
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Old 03-13-17, 11:38 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Originally Posted by creekdipper View Post
Doesn't that sort of sentiment seem to confirm the viewpoint of the observers?

When they make the point that "it's the listening that's missing" and that's interpreted as "designed to instigate arguing," that appears to be exactly what they're talking about.

That's like saying that observers who decry violent protests are trying to instigate violent protests. Does that make any sense?

Why does everything have to be an argument? Whatever happened to discussion...as in, "You state your view, now I have my turn, now it's your turn...?"

And when no one is persuaded, at least both sides have a better understanding of the other's views, has had a chance to ask questions (rather than just idly speculating about "what they are thinking,") etc. And, occasionally, there is common ground found or even persuasion.

Creek, I don't want to take you to task for anything in this thread, but...

THIS IS A NICK LOWE QUOTE, NOT AN ELVIS COSTELLO QUOTE. YOU MONSTER!
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Old 03-13-17, 11:42 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Yes but a the Curtis Stigers version from The Bodyguard soundtrack made Nick Lowe a mint.
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Old 03-13-17, 11:47 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Originally Posted by creekdipper View Post
Ahem. Nick Lowe (Brinsley Schwarz)

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Old 03-13-17, 11:58 AM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

How offensively absurd that creek of all people is deriding the death of the middle ground when he's part of a movement that wants to turn the US into a theocracy based on a perversion of Christianity. Perhaps the reason people don't try to find a middle ground is because evangelicals act like ISIS and try to cut out anyone who disagrees with their insane doctrines.
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Old 03-13-17, 12:03 PM
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Re: Demise of Public Civil Discourse Toward Opposing Viewpoints

Originally Posted by majorjoe23 View Post
Creek, I don't want to take you to task for anything in this thread, but...

THIS IS A NICK LOWE QUOTE, NOT AN ELVIS COSTELLO QUOTE. YOU MONSTER!
I know, I know.

I had the Lowe meme cued up, but it only quoted the last line. Then I saw the Costello meme with the whole stanza & chorus punch line, so I grabbed it instead.

That's not a dodge since I initially mistakenly posted the last line and attributed it to Mr. McManus, so apologies to Nick.



(I still prefer Declan's faster version with The Attractions, but don't tell Nick. Great clip, btw).
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