Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hate Radio

Finally, there have been a number of programs and articles in the major newspapers about the corrosive effect of radio stations that are feeding prejudices at either end of the political spectrum. These hate programs are telling growing audiences what they want to hear, but they are not informing listeners or educating them. In fact, they are having a negative effect on the democratic process.

While "hate" and intolerance is what's being promoted, it's dressed up as reasonable, rational argument - but the point is, it's not. There is no balance presentation; facts are selective, distorted, and sometime absolutely false or fictitious. The encourage unquestioning agreement and not debate or discussion.

For there to be intelligent debate on any subject, there must be an agreed body of data; facts from which conclusions can be inferred. It is now too easy to read and hear stories that pose as being factual where the information has not been verified; where numbers and stories have simply been made up; and where verified data is brushed aside and unjustly discredited.

This is not what America is about. This is not how the nation has been held together for more than two centuries.

Listening to or reading those things that only reinforce what you already believe deaden the mind. Truth is discovered only through discussion, debate and thought by those who have given serious consideration to opposing views and formulated rational arguments - based on evidence that is agreed by all parties.

Parroting the radio and internet hate merchants is not going to solve the problems of the nation - or of any individual. The cul de sac of irrationality will lead to stagnation, indecision, and ultimately to the loss - by default - of the freedoms that make America.

If this happens, it will be our own fault.

While everyone is equal under the law, and equal as a unique individual, all are not equal in intelligence, ability, potential or influence. Media of hate are capable of disrupting the natural equilibrium, giving disproportionate coverage to fringe opinions. At the same time, the highly charged atmosphere discourages the more rational citizenry from participating in public politics. History has seen this before; it's time we learned from it.

As I have said before, education is the key. It informs citizens; teaches them how to judge and evaluate evidence, and promotes the skills of logical reasoning and argument.

We not only have freedom of speech here; we also have the freedom not to listen. There are those who think that Walkmen and ipods are already drowning out any real thought by a majority of the population; if so, another sizeable group is letting hate fill its minds by only listening to or reading those things it already knows and believes in.

As the character George says in Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, "A man can put up with only so much without he descends a rung or two on the old evolutionary ladder."