Saturday, April 18, 2009

Attack First, Ask Questions Later

All right, be fair and balanced--and, good Libra that I am, I must try to be fair and balanced--here is another view of the whole Tea Party thing. I can't embed it, so you'll just have to go visit the link.

And you can agree or disagree with the commentary on media bias all you like. The disturbing thing here, to me, is the home video captured of this CNN reporter speaking with a woman in the crowd after her official report, which attacked and denigrated the protesters. As if her report wasn't unprofessional enough (and God knows, it was), it's even worse to learn that she spent time speaking with people in the crowd later, learned something more interesting and less cartoonish about what motivated some of the people there, and then chose not to use any of that information in a follow-up broadcast.

The commentator in this video, by the way, is a man named Bill Whittle, who writes very thoughtful and insightful essays--carefully written, deeply considered essays--right here. I often disagree with his views, but I'm always interested to read them, and I'm often challenged to re-think my own positions and more carefully defend my points of view. Which is exactly what reading widely should make you do.

But we don't read widely anymore. We read very narrowly. We figure out who agrees with us first, and then decide to read them. We lock ourselves away from those who disagree with us, because...well, because they're disagreeable. But that tactic doesn't serve us well. Because if our opinions are correct, we lose the opportunity to sharpen our teeth on opposing views--to figure out how best to respond to those who disagree with us, how best to fight back. And--horrors--what if our opinions turn out to be incorrect? What if we are wrong? Shouldn't we want to know? Shouldn't we want to make sure? And how can you find out if you are wrong, if you don't test your views out in the light of day, and make sure they stand up to criticism?

Here is an interesting book on the subject--on Stephen Colbert's "truthiness," and how it actually works in our world. Worth the read.

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