Sunday, May 2, 2010

Unintended Consequences of Free Speech Without Also Teaching Tolerance

Unintended consequences from our behavior, whether it be well intended or not. Consequences with well meaning government programs. Consequences of War. Consequences on the Internet, Talk Radio and 24 hour Cable News, especially with, as I like to call it, "Talk TV."
The well intending producers of these 24 hour cable news shows want the "Talking Heads" fighting with their guests because it raises ratings. High ratings mean more money.
Remember The Jerry Springer Show from many years ago? His was the first TV show that raised its ratings because his guests were regularly paid extra by producers not to simply fight with words, but to take punches at each other with their fists.
Fighting with fists or fighting with words, well intended or not, this 24 hour bickering is seeping into our psyche and society, daily behaviors, and the little ways we treat each other. What happened to the Puritan, Christian valued society of our founders?
We are now an "either/or" society. Everyone voicing their opinions on Facebook, Twitter, Internet blogs, radio, etc. Nothing wrong with free speech, but, does it have to be so angry? Also, when did we figure we had to be on one side or the other? Why do we have to say Merry Christmas OR Happy Holidays? Why can't we say Merry Christmas to our Christian friends AND Happy Holidays to our non-Christian friends? Why one side OR the other? Why not BOTH? Have we become so ETHNOCENTRIC?
The unintended consequence of our bickering combined with the changing face of America, is that we are entering into an uncivil society, as we have not been teaching tolerance. Free speech with tolerance. We CAN agree to disagree.

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