Sunday, January 9, 2011

Civil Public Discourse: A response to the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords

When you put a political opponent in the cross hairs of a gun, when you encourage people to "reload" there is a direct violent message delivered. Let us not mince words. The incindiary right has been frothing at the mouth and riling people up. There is a point when freedom of speech moves to incitement. I am wondering when that point will be observed?

There is a need for civil public discource in the media, in politics, and goodness knows in every community. Between Fox news and their "fair and balanced" reporting (see Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin) and infammatory Tea Party remarks there is little surprise that there has been political violence. If we appeal to the base instincts of fear and "othering" how do you think people will respond? When our president is painted as everything but "American" anger is incited.

Napolean Bonaparte has a remarkly true quote, "In politics stupidity is not a handicap."

We have to move away from this zero sum game of winner takes all politics. If we can not talk with one another, we can not work together. If violence becomes the accepted and promoted language of politics, it will foster violence.

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