clap clap blog: we have moved

Monday, June 02, 2003
I've got a reasonably big post on the Franken / Ivins / O'Reilly argument coming later, but for now I wanted to highlight this one O'Reilly quote that comes at around the 54 minute mark of the MP3 I linked.

"We have to make judgments, and these judgments are harsh, and these judgments have to be sold in a way that arouses people's ire, or things will never get better."

(and this in response to a question about how to improve discourse in American civil society!)

It's an interesting response; it's honest, certainly, although it must be said that a more honest (and less noble) reason would be that making harsh judgments get you ratings and eyeballs and bucks. It gives you a platform to say something, although it encourages you to continue saying the same vituperative things you've been saying before and not to try to make real positive change.

At any rate, I think the interesting point here is the similarity to the way in which lefty activists (think Greens) justify their activities, i.e. as sure-it's-bad-but-people-are-suffering-and-is-vomiting-in-public-any-more-offensive-than-the-killing-of-innocents?!?!?!?! It would be nice if this obvious similarity would cause both sides to rethink their priorities, although I don't really expect it to. And hey, how lame is it that the annoying people on the left are way less rich, huh? That said, I admit that it does seem true that you have to yell louder (and more offensively) than everyone else in order to get a voice in the current culture, although I've often found that a good strategy is leading with an ad hominem and then following up with a smart, well-reasoned, respectful argument. It seems to work and get attention, so woo.

Incidentally, my response to the question would be: "Eliminate TV." Not that I have anything against television--woo, American Idol!--and I think that it's actually done some very good things for informing the citizenry, although it could do much better. Still, historical evidence does suggest that people were much more into reading and/or listening to lengthy, well-reasoned arguments before the rise of electronic media, so if that's what you consider elevated discourse, there you go.