There has been a great decline in civility in this country. We have lost the perception that reasonable persons of good will may hold opposing views. Simultaneously, we have lost the ability to address reasoned arguments - to forsake ad hominem characterization, and instead address a different person's arguments. Which is a tragedy, because debate is interesting. It's a form of exploration. But personal attack is merely unpleasant and intimidating. Paradoxically, this decline in civility and good humor, which the press appear to believe is necessary to "get the story," reduces the intensity of our national discourse. Watching British parliamentary debates, I notice that the tradition of saying "the right honorable gentleman" or "my distinguished friend" before hurling an insult does something interesting to the entire process. A civil tone permits more bluntness.
And where can you find this kind of debate in today's media? Not in television, nor in newspapers or magazines. You find it on the computer networks, a place where traditional media are distinctly absent.
So I hope that this era of polarized, junk-food journalism will soon come to an end.
Is it coming to an end now, 17 years later? Or is it in fact getting worse, and spreading deeper into society, hosing shit all over intelligence?
The Full Michael Crichton Story Is Here