Friday, March 04, 2005

On Grounds

On occasion, while surfing the WWW, I have stumbled across a rather troubling ground for this claim: Don't listen to this person; this person has nothing worthwhile to say.

For example, Ted Rall, a syndicated cartoonist writes in his Yahoo! column:

Bloggers want you to know that there's a new sheriff in town. Edward Morrissey, writer of the right-wing blog Captain's Quarters, boasts to the New York Times: "The media can't just cover up the truth and expect to get away with it--and journalists can't just toss around allegations without substantiation and expect people to believe them anymore." And what are Morrissey's qualifications to police the media? When he's not harassing old-school journos like Dan Rather and CNN's Eason Jordan out of their jobs, Morrissey manages a call center near Minneapolis.

On the other side of the political spectrum, The Political Teen writes:

I'm not one to care much about politically rhetoric from teachers. Most of the teachers I have, I think are conservative. But today when my Environment Science (big surprise) teacher made a blantant political reference I had to "attack" back.

Well let me just tell you a little bit about the subject in the class. We are starting energy today and talked about oil. The teacher said something along the lines of "You think we go in the middle east for peace and to free the people, when actually we are going in for the protection of the oil there (also in reference to the prices)." I am sorry did I miss it when you got a degree in foreign policy or became apart of President Bush's cabinet? Apparently so. Anyways I responded saying "Well don't you think it is mainly because of the greedy leaders in those countries such as Syria?". Her response was "We have greedy leaders here too". Totally irrelevant, but I stopped anyways.

In both instances, a person's credibility--ethos as maybe the old dead Greeks would say--to discuss a particular institution or issue was predicated, in part, on his or her qualifications. Rall seems to define those credibility standards negatively, suggesting that certain types of professions seem likely to hinder your compentency and The Political Teen seems to positively define a person's credibility, suggesting that certain appointments or qualifications place you in a better position to discuss or argue. Whether negative or positive, this assumption strikes me as being dangerous to the establishment and maintenance of civil deliberation. Obviously, there is no prima facie case to be made that a person who operate a telephone bank cannot examine or critique the media, just as discussion of the US' publically argued and reasoned decision to invade Iraq need not begin only after a foriegn policy degree is conferred or an appointment Senate-approved. Lippmann arguments aside, I think that there needs to be a firm recognition that public reasoning must include both the public and reasoning, and with all due deference to complexity, I think that institutions as significant as the news media and issues as prominent as war must allow for both. If not, what are we--Lincoln's "we"-- in the public left to talk about?


Post a Comment

<< Home