Can Debate Happen on the Internet?
I think that we are slowly losing the ability or willingness to debate. We seem to be turning into an absolutist society. Jon Stewart talks about this in his book “America the Book” (A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction) he talks about how the political party system discourages independent thought (a Democrat needs to be pro-choice, anti-gun, pro-union, and pro-gay marriage while the Republican Party you are to be anti-gun control, anti-gay marriage, pro-life, and pro-business. The book gives the idea that such intractable platforms is contradictory to the actual America we live in. This is from a man who uses this very concept when it comes to his own beliefs. Ever sense the tragic shooting at Sandy hook Stewart has been on a nonstop gun control campaign turning his show into a platform for his views rather than a comedy show about the news.
We turned debate in our society into two camps, the political from a place where each party can explain their views and discuss the differences to two and four minute sound-bites regurgitating what their commercials say with no real information, and the “ I am right and you are stupid” style loved by most people on the Internet. It’s this “I am all right and you are all wrong” mentality and the shock posters that makes true internet debate impossible.
A shock poster or troll is anyone who will post with the intention to be funny at the expense of the thread (Hub) or post such an absolutist stance that true debate is lost (“anyone who wants a gun is a crazy nut job that should be locked up,” or “anyone who wants gun control should be shot as a traitor.”). Now I can see how people are fearful of debate. Here in Ohio (I mentioned this before) we had a debate over public smoking which created a law that passed with the condition that private clubs could still continue to allow smoking. Of course the reality was that as soon as it became law we saw that condition removed by the courts. This adds the idea that the gun control debate will start with magazine size and licensing and end with an amendment repealing the right to own a gun.
Now some of this debate is political with the idea that one party needs to oppose everything that the other party is for. We see this in how the Republican based media will twist any legislation or law proposed by the Democratic Party or the Democratic based media suggests that any conservative measure is racist, sexist, homophobic, or just plain stupid. This last is why I dislike such men as Bill Maher who uses his comedy to say how he think he is right and anyone who thinks different is stupid. He engineers a TV show much like the old time wrestling with clear good guys and clear bad guys with the inevitable ending of the good guys (him and his like minded folk) beating the bad guys (anyone who would go on his show with an opposing view).
The worst of all is the typical Internet debate consisting of one or two ideas and many insults. The average debate follows the style of a five year old. All attitude with no real substance (I am right any you are stupid. I’m Rubber you are glue what you toss at me bounces off and sticks to you).
As almost everything else I posted in the last couple days much of this has to do with the inability for people to either change their views or even compromise their stance to meet the “other side” in the middle. This goes to the question of religion whether it is a belief in a higher power or the absence of such. Because the question of religion (pro or con) has such a hold on society many use this to promote their other views making such as the picture of Jesus with a gun.
I hate to give my own opinion (even though just by starting this I am giving an opinion) because I would rather see what other people think rather than defending my own. This is similar to my views on religion or politics because once you do the tone changes from an open forum to me vs. the world on my views. Also (unlike some) I am willing to approach a topic with an open mind.
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