Is this Progress?

An interesting little video from 1968, in which Noam Chomsky debates William Buckley about the Vietnam War. What struck me is how very civil they both were towards each other, even though they held such different views on a highly divisive issue:

Now flash forward to 2006, and look how the host of this show abuses the mother of a slain soldier:

So, what have we gained by being so abusive and rude to people because they hold different views?

Do Americans really deserve such hosts, who are rude and abusive, and have no content or original thoughts to back up their outrageous behavior? Is political debate only entertainment, or does it serve some other social function, which would demand a certain level of quality?

If Americans don’t demand this certain level of quality, will they ever get it?  Do media companies have a responsibility, other than higher ratings?

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1 comment
  1. Macavity said:

    It’s not just the media where civility’s gone out the wondow, chief. The other day, I was leaving the dentist – had to go in to get a filling replaced – and someone else was coming in, a lady (or so I thought).

    So, having been brought up to be polite and help other people, I held the door for her.

    Instead of being thanked, though, what I got was a torrent of abuse about “what did I think she was, some [blankety-blank-blank-blank] weakling who couldn’t open doors on her own and needed a [blankety-blank] nursemaid” and that she “could have opened the [blankety-blank] door herself”.

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