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Marlon Jones

GED Program Director/ Instructor, Wright Career College

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"...but I'll defend to the death your right to say it… Really?"

Voltaire once said “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it” Would I? Really? While maybe not dead, civility is definitely paralyzed in our country, in our communities, and in our homes. At what point did it become easier to antagonize, patronize, and vilify the “other” instead of conducting a reasoned discussion about the perplexing issues that surround us? Well into the machinations of the most recent elections it was being reported by various media sources that Americans were more divided than during any other time in history. There is simply something that does not sound quite right about that statement. Is it possible to have an honest and reasoned discussion? Is it possible to objectively consider an opposing point of view? Do we even agree on what the problems are? Disagreements are inevitable but being disagreeable is not. What do you think?

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    Nov 19 2012: "At what point did it become easier to antagonize, patronize, and vilify the “other” instead of conducting a reasoned discussion about the perplexing issues that surround us?"

    Although there are those who choose to be difficult regardless, I don't think it's a matter of ease as much as it is likelihood for misunderstanding given how we communicate. Case in point, TED. I only know what you wrote and you, in turn, only know what you've read from me in response. What neither of us have is the benefit of watching each other's body language, or hearing the nuance in the words we choose, all of which is a big part of communication. While we think we communicate in text, email, and written responses, as we're doing here in TED, I often see much more harm than good coming from it.

    "Is it possible to have an honest and reasoned discussion? Is it possible to objectively consider an opposing point of view? Do we even agree on what the problems are?"

    Yes to the first two, all too often, no to the third, I believe, in part, due to the problems that come with what passes for "communication" these days.

    Related to this, non "face time" communication such as text and email provides a form of assumed anonymity, which, in my opinion, creates another problem. We type things we would never say were we face to face. There is an old school "Goofy" cartoon where mild mannered Goofy becomes agressive, belligerent Goofy the moment he gets behind the wheel of his car, once again becoming polite Goofy when he gets where he's going. I often think of that when reading posts in Facebook from people I know to be polite in person, who occasionally become really nasty in FB. And this is particularly true when discussing religion and certainly politics.

    They do because they are not facing the person they are in discussion with; that and being urged on late at night by a third glass of wine.

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