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27 December 2008

Let’s Just Pipe Down

Readers will note that at the top of this page there is considerable emphasis on the aim to keep things non-partisan, non-controversial, and otherwise low in decibels.


Because fighting the tidal wave has to start someplace, and why not here?

Tidal wave? What tidal wave?

The yelling. The snarling. The name-calling. The labeling. They’ve conglomerated and are roaring in — a vast, clamorous sea swirling around our cultural foundations, soon to beat the civilization they support into rubble.

Mostly it’s politics, of course, and partisan rancor is endemic to politics. But today the blind and angry negativity of both sides in a years-long dispute over an unpopular president and an equally unpopular Congress has metastasized, spreading its rot from blogs and barroom arguments into our culture’s basic venues: business, sports, entertainment, religion, ecology, sociology, natural and applied sciences, and the news media. In each, bitter accusation appears to be the watchword for those who insist on having their way.

It’s made quite clear: if you don’t agree with the shouter’s assertions, you are a filthy, stinking (fill in the blank) Leftist, Rightist, Liberal, Conservative, Fascist, Communist, Racist, Socialist, Democrat, Republican, Independent, Feminist, Male-ist, Gay, Anti-Gay, Nazi-Lover, Freedom-Hater, Corporate-Thief, Labor-Corrupter, Pro-War Neanderthal, Anti-War Terrorist-Supporter, and/or an all-around wart on the empennage of progress and good sense.

Well, folks, not on this blog. Here the rancorous is denied admission. Here, he who submits unsupported accusation, willful defamation, or any other form of character assassination is assured an immediate one-way trip to the trash file. Even sly innuendo has little chance of making it onto these pages.

Believe me, this is not due to timorousness or an attempt to please everybody. I couldn’t do that in any event, because I have very definite, often angry and uncompromising opinions on what I see around me in the world today, and I’m sure that if I publicly expressed those personal opinions I’d lose half of my 14,000 readers in one swell foop. But that’s my point: I don’t want to write to 7,000 who would agree with me, I want to write in a way that has a chance of making all of us — and maybe even 14,000 new ones — just pipe down, do some serious thinking, and save some room for the milk of human kindness.

Case in point: There’s much discussion these days about the terrible financial losses and fall-off in readership among the nation’s newspapers and magazines. What caused the collapse, what can we do to deal with this dreadful calamity are the questions cried out by hand-wringing editors and publishers everywhere. Well, I think the answers are pretty obvious. In a nation divided politically almost even-steven between left and right, the editors and publishers have alienated at least half their customers by abandoning their presumed role as impartial observers and leaders of rational discussion by plumping hard on one side or the other. Either way, half the customers sniff, “We should buy subscriptions and ad space in a sheet that calls us ignoramuses? Come on, get real.”

Personally, I love newspapers and magazines. But half of them today are making me madder’n hell because they want me to buy their product while they call me a schnook.


Copyright © 2008 by Jack D. Hunter.  All rights reserved.  No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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