After writing this column for twenty-seven years I can easily delude myself into believing that the reason no one writes in with complaints is because people agree with my opinions. Of course, I am fully aware a more likely reason is because no one reads them.
Be that as it may, should you have read “Gavel Gamut” recently you know the general topic has been the state of discourse and discussion in America. More to the point, why do so many people seem so angry with people whose only sin is to voice an opinion with which others disagree?
While even every day conversations among friends now sometimes turn into shouting matches and hurt feelings, the worst practitioners of “My way or the highway” are the cable television news anchors and the editorial writers of large newspapers. These pundits with public pulpits who are purveyors of pusillanimous perfidy often take it upon themselves to state as a fact that some statement by some public figure is false. Frequently no foundation is laid and no leeway is given for a statement being a mistake.
Usually the public figure who is maligned as mendacious, not misguided, has no opportunity to respond. An attack is launched and in our contemporary world of instant Internet access by millions of ill informed users the attack becomes the reality.
An electorate that forms its opinions on such marshy grounds might support government actions which are anathema to our nation’s welfare. Also, a steady diet of such diatribes could result in a backlash against the First Amendment. That would truly lead to a national disaster.
I know calling for self-policing by the media could morph into a call for government policing of the media. So what alternatives do we have? There are many, of course, but I would like to suggest we encourage the application of a few self-imposed procedures that might help make our current hostile environment more positive.
These procedures are neither secret nor complicated and have been slowly and carefully crafted over many years. Well, maybe next week.