Thursday, May 12, 2005

Coarseness of Debate and the Runaway Bride

At times, I make jokes at some public/news figures' expense. When giving an honest political or social opinion, however, I hope and try to keep the discussion on point and civil. I might use hyperbole for humor, and then usually against my position or the person I may be supporting. I am sure you can find individual examples of me breaking that rule, so I won't pat myself on the back too hard. Still, I hope you find the serious opinion here civil or appropriately funny.

The Smoking Gun has a series of e-mails and letters to the City of Duluth regarding the Jennifer Wilbanks a/k/a Runaway Bride. What strikes me is how these can be seen as a simple, microcosm of the level of debate in this country. People writing in seem to immediately stoop to name calling and insults, aimed at everything including the appearance, geography and religion of the people invovled in the story. The selection certainly was not all of the e-mails and letters received, but of those selected only a few seemed either serious and polite, or intentionally humorous. I think this is reflective of the fact that we as a society do not know how to disagree anymore, and the difference of any opinion is a justification for name calling and character assassination. Every opponent is Hitler, and every position is the slippery slope to the worst possible alternative. It is like every debate is between Don Rickles and Chicken Little.

Moreover, it is clear that most of the people who wrote the e-mails and letters on the Smoking Gun are ignorant, northern, cultural elitist bastards.


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