Better Than Fiction

Blogging, Culture, Politics — By on March 18, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Has our culture lost the ability to foster honest public discourse?
Sometimes it appears so. One blogger had this to say after one of the campaign debates last fall:

What is it about politics that tends to reduce normal, presumably at least quasi-thoughtful journalists (and others) to insult-slinging, cliche-hurling, party-line-toeing ideologues who all mysteriously sound the same with the sole exception of which party line they’re toeing?

Great question!


I will not attempt to answer her questions here, but I do know of a new blog where the authors are trying to do something about this very problem:

In March of 2004, the political drama The West Wing aired an episode entitled “The Supremes” and the story arc dealt with the challenge of putting justices of conviction on the Supreme Court, from both sides of the political aisle. Rather than put forward moderates who could not be pressed to defend their actual opinions on the various issues that face the Court, the Bartlet administration elected to nominate two justices who demonstrated the ability to give full-throated defenses of their principles: a liberal lion, Evelyn Baker Lang and a conservative anchor, Christopher Mulready. The reasoning behind this seemingly odd (and sadly fictional) choice was that serious and healthy debate is what is best for the Republic, that earnest discourse between citizens who believe in the process and work for the best future for our nation will produce results that uphold the ideals that gave birth to America.
As we come together to speak and debate public policy, it is this legacy that we aspire to.

It’s not always easy to find fair, well-balanced commentary coming from both sides of the political aisle in one place,and it’s not always easy to find pundits who will take their opponent’s ideas seriously and critique them fairly. It’s even harder to find two such intelligent writers who can do this to each other while remaining friends! This is a shame, because while it’s not always easy to live in community with people of different viewpoints, it’s something we all have to do – and we’d better learn to do it well. ‘


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  • GodBot

    Exactly why Rush Limbaugh should disowned by conservatives.

  • WebMonk

    Nice, apparently my and another’s comment on the previous post gets deleted because it’s not complimentary to this blog. It was perfectly civil and a valid critique, but it critiqued the quality of the blog, so out it goes.
    Way to destroy this blog even faster. I fully expect this to be deleted too, ‘cuz that’s just the sort of cheap “blog” this has turned into – running shameless promotional spots, deleting comments that you don’t like, and then turning off comments on that “Whole World” ad post.
    I’ll probably check back in a time or two to see what happens to this comment, but after that you’ll never again have me use up your bandwidth.

  • John M.

    Boo-freaking-hoo Webmonk. Glad to see you go. Thread hijacking, especially with no purpose other than to criticize your hosts, is troll behaviour and SHOULD be banned.

  • WebMonk

    You don’t get it, and can’t get it because they decided to erase the original post. Heck, they closed commenting on it entirely, so nobody can do anything about that.
    My comment wasn’t anything remotely trollish, another long-time commenter here agreed with me on that post and they erased his too (Boontown, I think), and it wasn’t a screed against this blog. It was a polite and directed critique of posting an ad.
    My post above – yeah, that’s a trollish post and a general rant.
    Think about this – when was the last time there was a post on here that got over 20 comments that wasn’t a strictly political post? Politics is easy to use to get people all fired up. They don’t have to be intelligent or thoughtful, they just need to be provocative, or some of the commenters need to be provocative.
    There used to be discussion of all sorts of things that were intelligent enough to get atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Wiccans, and Christians all arguing over philosophy and morality (or lack thereof). It was great!
    The only posts recently that have more than a few comments have all been politics – an easy topic to crank people up. No intelligence required. The religious/philosophical posts since Joe left have all been rather dull and uninteresting – reflected by the lack of commenters.
    Adios.

  • John M.

    Dude, this is the internet. If you put that much thought into what’s good and bad on it, you have way too much time on your hands.

  • John M.

    Dude, this is the internet. If you put that much thought into what’s good and bad on it, you have way too much time on your hands.