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Lions Roar : January 2005
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2005 57 going on the Internet or reading books, they are out looking for more depth. Something’s wrong, and they don’t know where to go. KINGWELL: Wouldn’t itbe awfulif that pathological cor- porate invasion of a genuine desire, namely talk radio, became what most people saw as exemplary political dis- course. That’s the sort of state we are in right now and that’s really evil, frankly. But I agree with Ms. Schroeder that the success of political books has been astonishing. This takes us back to the eighteenth-century pamphleteering culture, where people go into print rather quickly, but not without argument or facts. It is astonishing that in the 21st century, this old-fashioned medium of communication is where all that action is. D V O R K I N : That’s why I’m slightly optimistic, even though there’s a lot to be pessimistic about. There is a vigorous debate that is very different from the kinds of debates we saw in the sixties and seventies, when the gatekeepers of information were places like The New York Times and CBS News, institutions that were considered beyond reproach. That trust has been eroded to such an extent that there are no elites whom people can turn to automatically. It’s become much more diffused. ROSENBERG: Thediscourse that I thinkispositive is among people who recognize that there is not much need for dis- course, because of the way things are structured. The media will let you talk about things, but forces determine, for exam- ple, who you are going to get to vote for. So why talk about the present situation? We don’t have much voice anyway. What we have to have is discourse on how to change radically who controls the channels over which we have discourse. Are we really talking about a problem of discourse per se? Doesn’t the problem go deeper, to the belief that victory is all that really matters politically, and that the integrity of institu- tions and the rules of civilized discourse can be ignored in the search for tactical advantage? It seems to be a lack of concern for the common good. KINGWELL: I would agree with that. We’ve already men- tioned the preponderance of ad hominem argument. Ad hominem is one of the most obvious fallacies in the array of rhetorical strategies, yet it is the most toxic, because it takes issue with the very idea that your opponent has something to contribute. I think if one goes into any debate with that attitude, that is a disservice to the system. SCHROEDER: Well, you lose if you’re nice right now. Let’s face it. Everybody says they hate negative campaigning, but time PATRICIA SCHROEDER served as a member of the U.S. House of Representa- tives from 1972 to 1996. She is now President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers. MARK KINGWELL, Ph.D ., is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto and author of eight books on political and cultural theory, including A Civil Tongue (1995), The World We Want (2000), and Practical Judgments (2003). MARSHALL B. ROSENBERG, Ph.D., is founder and director of educational services for the Center for Nonviolent Communication. He is the author of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life and Life-Enriching Education. JEFFREY DVORKIN is listeners’ ombudsman for National Public Radio. He is a former vice-president of news for NPR and man- aging editor of radio news for the Canadian Broad- casting Corporation. Photos (top to bottom): Focused Images Photography, Inc., Molly Montgomery, Beth Banning and Lisa Berg