Has listening become a sign of weakness in American politics?
Kathryn Ruud, a published linguist, thinks that both liberals and conservatives are sliding into propaganda that amounts to “trash
She will speak Wednesday, Sept. 26, 7 pm, on “Protecting our Democracy: Understanding American Political Talk in the Age of Info-Tainment” at the Kent County Library in Chestertown.
Using a Powerpoint presentation, she will highlight seven techniques, including scapegoating, that some partisans use to make their opponents less than human. Then, opponents’ ideas can be seen as worthless. This tendency is “tearing at the fabric of democracy,” she writes.
Unfortunately, the trash-talking atmosphere “is like a vortex that’s so easy to get caught up in,” she says on a video of an earlier presentation available on her website, www.stoppolarizingtalk.org.
She points out that the exercise of democracy requires the exercise of civility. “This does not mean a wimpy, nicey-nice approach. It means that we stand by our principles but recognize merit wherever it is found.”
Ruud says that discussing problems fairly “is very much a moral question. People need to think about their ethics and remember who they are as whole persons before joining the political debate.”
She will offer specific techniques for dealing with destructive dialog so that people are able to work toward common ground.
Ms. Ruud has studied the manipulative language used during the rise of fascism in Germany and that used by communists in East Germany. She has published her research in the book “At War with Words,” for which she is a contributing editor.
The Kent County League of Women Voters and the Unitarian-Universalists of the Chester River are co-sponsors of the talk, which will begin at 7 p.m.
For news of other League events, see the website – www.kent.lwvmd.org.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Kent County Library
408 High St
Chestertown, MD 21620
Write a Letter to the Editor on this Article
We encourage readers to offer their point of view on this article by submitting the following form. Editing is sometimes necessary and is done at the discretion of the editorial staff.