Saturday, October 15, 2005

Gore's speech

I am catching up on news from the sustainable blogosphere and I came across Al Gore's speech of October 5th, 2005. Its long and thoughtful and worth a read. It is about a topic close to my speech communication MA's heart--public discourse, specifically the public discourse in America and what has happened to it with the advent of television.
I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse . I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America's fabled "marketplace of ideas" now functions.

How many of you, I wonder, have heard a friend or a family member in the last few years remark that it's almost as if America has entered "an alternate universe"?

I thought maybe it was an aberration when three-quarters of Americans said they believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on September 11, 2001. But more than four years later, between a third and a half still believe Saddam was personally responsible for planning and supporting the attack.

At first I thought the exhaustive, non-stop coverage of the O.J. trial was just an unfortunate excess that marked an unwelcome departure from the normal good sense and judgment of our television news media. But now we know that it was merely an early example of a new pattern of serial obsessions that periodically take over the airwaves for weeks at a time.
The commentary at the bottom of the speech is interesting as well. Do your civic duty and spend a few minutes considering the marketplace of ideas.

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