by Jade Jones
The advent of the 24 hour news cycle has brought about the Warring Talking Head Affliction. Every news channel portrays two sides to each political argument. Networks search to find pundits with polar opposite sides of an argument. Many times, these folks are extremist lunatics but when provided the glossy platform of a “news” channel, they are given an undeserved aura of validity. This is detrimental to our political process and is pushing our civic discourse into a new dark age. There aren’t two valid sides to every argument but when it is presented as such, many in the populace think it’s okay to side with crazy. In the last few years, we’ve seen a major rise in sexist and racist sentiment and legislation in this country. We were supposedly moving beyond that. Our country has a moral progress and this supposed validity of both arguments has led to people thinking it’s okay to be racist and it’s okay to be sexist.
Many people choose to read their news instead of watching it on TV, but the attitude of two-sidedness bleeds over into other forms of media. Even if the educated aren’t watching as much, there are millions who are tuned in. Millions who comment on message boards, “like” stories on news websites, and get in arguments on Facebook. The news websites are businesses just like any other and will post what people get excited about to generate revenue. The more extreme the position take by an author, the more the message boards start lighting up and people tear each other to pieces.
Warring Talking Head Affliction is intimately entwined with the mean-spiritedness on the web in general. We all complain how nasty people are to one another on the web. This is in part due to the anonymity of online discussions but also because our news system has replaced civil discourse with open warfare. If you are used to seeing shouting matches, it becomes second nature to create one of your own. Hostility is now the expected manner of political discussion.
A couple of things need to happen to combat this affliction. People need to stop watching the major news networks. Let that dinosaur die. We also need to stop validating things we know are wrong and extremist. On the left, we tend to take the high road, which is good, but we shouldn’t be afraid to label something as racist or sexist if that is the case. We need to stop getting caught up in semantics and cut down to the base of the issue. We need to call the nut jobs out for being just plain nutty and not continue to argue with them. What’s the quote from Mark Twain? “Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”Share