Speak the Truth, But Not to Punish

As a PR specialist I have spent decades dealing with volatile front page issues, rancorous disputes and tricky situations — everything from food poisonings and market crashes, to animal cruelty charges, bodies disappearing from funeral homes, exploding sawmills, bankruptcies and sex scandals. But the escalating state of dysfunctional and toxic dialogue we see today is beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed. We are in a communication crisis. Our warlike approach to public debate is polluting the public square with a dark haze of unyielding one-sidedness. Regardless of the issue, this is the threshold problem because we have shut down the space where high quality public debate takes place, where facts matter, where passionate opposition and science shape constructive, mind changing conversations. Attacking people’s motives and character, whipping up fear and hatred, distracts the public from real issues and undermines genuine opposition and debate. Sadly it is part of a nasty wave of nationalism and bigotry washing across North America and Europe. While doing research for my new book, I’m Right and You’re an Idiot, I interviewed dozens of political pundits, philosophers, moral psychologists, media gurus and social scientists. They all agree toxic dialogue and polluted public discourse is an enormous obstacle to change. While adversarial discourse has its place in a courtroom or an entertaining television debate, these ugly and antagonistic techniques also lead to disabling polarization and tribalism — the two main sources of pollution in the public square. So what is healthy dialogue?  (Read more from James Hoggan, A Matter of Spirit, Fall 2016)

http://www.ipjc.org/journal/AMOSFall2016.pdf

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