Is heated rhetoric the cause of violence?
I mean on one hand, fringe loonies trying to stir the pot can definitely attract more fringe loonies.. and when you get too many fringe loonies together bad things can certainly come from it.
But isn’t the beauty of democracy to be found in the fact that we encourage, accept, want and desire debate? Vigorous, thorough, passionate debate.
The Lincoln-Douglass debates of 1858 are legendary. We want bright minds going toe-to-toe.
I happen to think that conversation is often the antidote to violence, that communicating and talking and debating and arguing and working through issues in a “talk about it” style prevents people from resorting to taking up physical pitchforks against one another. My belief is that when you don’t let people express themselves, that is when they feel as if physical altercations are their only resort. But when you allow them to communicate and express and weigh in – and debate – then, in a way, I believe you are disarming folks as well.
Because you are validating them. Because you are (hopefully) listening to them. Truth is many, many people just “want to be heard”.
We ought to be able to have civil debate though. We’re a diverse country with lots of different perspectives… and a lot of loudmouths (like me) who feel the need to make their ideas about matters known, heard and understood.
A classroom that isn’t characterized by open conversation, by both the students and the teachers, is a classroom constrained. Same with a family, a working relationship, a romantic relationship and so on.
Sometimes, we’ll break bread and smile with one another; other times we’ll dig in and argue. In a certain way, I am not sure if you can really have one without the other in a healthy relationship.
So, do I want the heated rhetoric removed from our national conversation? Only the stuff that is designed to foment hate.
“Join my team and fight the good fight!” speeches are different than “Kill the enemy” podium talks. But when you take the stage, my belief is that you do have a responsibility know the difference.