I am struck watching this video by how impressionable some people can be. This goes back to the debate about whether or not different media can incite violence. For me, I don’t believe people should necessarily be prevented from saying outlandish things. What I do have an issue with is that there is no apparatus to call people out on what they are talking about. Talk radio has fostered an atmosphere where people can say just about anything they like and there is no counterbalance, at least in the same venue. They touched upon this in the video but I think it’s important to consider that the general formula is to constantly ratchet up the absurdity every time to guarantee people stay outraged and keep tuning in.
Ultimately, I lay the blame on our society itself. We live in a country that has begun more and more to value a really scary strain of anti-intellectualism. Alongside this scariness is a decided lack of critical thinking. Even as far back as I was in high school the one thing that still sticks out is 100% not learning to think critically about what I was taught, it was rote learning meant to support one version of things. I especially remember being the subject of much criticism for being the person who always liked to argue with teachers about points that were entirely debatable. Few teachers valued creating any sort of environment that fostered debate of any kind. I have always remembered the ones who did fondly, even if I constantly disagreed with them. As someone who deals with young college students in my job, things seem infinitely more grim nowadays. Teaching for the test seems to have created a big thinking hole in a huge number of young kids. Personally I believe that these twin evils are responsible for the bulk of this problem. Not sure how to get us out of though.
I am also happy the producers of the show chose to just keep it silent during the little memorial bit at the end. PBS and NPR can really ramp up the cheesiness in these things and it sort of takes the power away for me. Bill Moyers is the man.