Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Insensitivity and Argumentation

Yes,... well,... I didn't go through sensitivity training at UW Madison.  The University started that requirement during my time there, but it was only mandatory for incoming freshmen, one of which I was not. So I have an excuse; I was never taught, by the correct governmental entity, how to be a sensitive, caring person.

"Where is she heading with this post?" you may ask.

It just dawned on me this morning, that because of the recent tragedy in Tucson, it may seem inconsiderate of me to post two gun related posts on these particular days.  And that may be true.

One might make such an argument.  In all honesty, I did not make the correlation until after the posts were done.  That said, I can't exactly come to apologize for them, or my timing of them, either.  And here's why.

Gun rights did not cause this tragedy.

My enjoyment of the safe and legal use of firearms did not cause this tragedy.

And Steve Lee's music certainly did not cause this tragedy.

Jarod Laughner caused this tragedy.  Blame his mental illness if you want.  Blame his "handler",  the mysterious missing person, if you want.

But as much as I am saddened by the shooting; as much as I feel for those injured and for the families of the dead, you can't blame me or my views.

I pray for the comfort and healing of all involved.

I pray for the healing of our national conversation.

But perhaps my timing of the most recent post might even be put to some good purpose.  The video clip I included portrays well the difference between articulated arguments and angry, attack speech.  It seems to be a popular analysis, that somehow the angry tone of our cultural conversation is to blame for Jarod Laugner's reprehensible behavior.  I don't think anyone ought to make that link, until he has, or until something can be found in his life and writings, that might connect the two .

I'm finding conversation after conversation on the main Stream Media (MSM), on Conservative Talk Radio (CTR), and on the blogosphere either implying (or defending against those implications) that somehow CTR and its said affiliate, the TEA party movement, caused Jarod Laughner to try to kill Gabrielle Giffords.  (And as an aside, why is she consistently seen as the target, anyway?  Has everyone in the media forgotten that a Federal Judge was shot dead.  How do we know he was not the intended target?  But that's another conversation.)

Last I checked, reports were that Jarod Laughner was not political.  There was no indication he listened to talk radio.  He does not claim to be a TEA party patriot.  He does not appear to be aligned with what some might want to call the "extreme" right.  So don't blame us.

Please, no matter upon which side you find yourself politically, or if you prefer to not have a side, as you listen to or read your choice of current events coverage, please remember that there is a difference between senseless name calling or personal attack speech, and a well articulated argument.  An effective argument will include facts on which you will be able to check.  It will include history that is documented.  It will tie its premises together into a logical conclusion.  It is designed to teach or persuade.  Senseless name calling or personal attack speech, are sometimes linked to facts that cannot be checked, or that upon further checking don't hold up.  Sometimes those facts are valid, but they are strung together in a way that is not logically conclusive.  Often attack speech is phrased in such a way to compel the reader or listener feel a certain emotion strongly.  Often it makes a listener or reader feel smug satisfaction.  Mostly, it is just noise.

Our country is at a time of strongly differing opinions.  But difference does not have to be violent.  Discussion does not have to be fighting.  Well made arguments can build consensus.  But only if we listen and think.

And only if we perceive the noise for what it is.

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