Thursday, August 03, 2006

Passion need not be unreasonable...

One of the blog books I've been reading is The Weblog Handbook by Rebecca Blood.

An excerpt:

"Op-ed blogs have coalesced as an important sub-genre since the September 11 attacks. But like the political commentators they emulate, too many of them focus on proving that their opponents are wrong or stupid instead of seeking the truth. When television's McLaughlin Group and others like it first appeared, this approach was entertaining, I suppose, in an appalling, train-wreck sort of way. On all these shows, closed minds and heavy-handed insults masquerade as vigorous discussion.

I have found it disheartening to see this style of discourse creep onto the editorial pages of our newspapers and into the mouths of politicians themselves, only to be amplified by an undiscerning press. Defending one's "side" at all costs does no service to the people - and ideals - that really matter. Who benefits from such tactics? Only the very wealthy and very powerful. Not government. Not the People. Even the columnists and commentators who employ these tactics do not gain enough to offset the tremenous damage they do to the political process itself.

I suppose it is natural that some webloggers would adopt this style after seeing it presented for so many years as a legitimate model of political discourse. Is it fair to expect motivated amateurs to discern the insubstantiality of this mode of rhetoric when professional news editors seemingly cannot? But I can't help being unhappy to see so many fine minds wasted on the intellectual equivalent of the World Wrestling Federation. There are still intellectually honest journalists and political commentators working in the mainstream media; let them be the model for our approach.

I would love to see a new wave of op-ed bloggers who build their cases on reason rather than rhetorical attacks. Let the next wave evaluate information according to its truth, not its political expediency. Let them strive for clarity and refute obfuscation from all sides. Passion need not be unreasonable, and strong opinion need not be obstinate. Let the next generation of op-ed blogs show the way."


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