Just before the election, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a monster rally on the mall. Stewart dubbed it a “Rally for Sanity” but nobody was sure what to expect… over-the-top craziness, wicked lampooning of the right-wing, silly political skits? However, it turned out to be just as billed. It was a serious attempt to restore sanity and even a measure of civility to the national political discourse. Perhaps the most memorable line from Stewart’s speech was, “When we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”
Some on the left, particularly the commentator lineup at MSNBC, were stung by what they perceived as criticism from Jon Stewart. Soon afterward Rachel Maddow called him out (though in a fairly low-key manner) for what she perceived as his “unfairness,” which resulted in Stewart calling her bookers and requesting a one-hour sit-down to explain his views. It was a fascinating interview.
In essence it boiled down to Stewart chiding the left-leaning primetime MSNBC political lineup for being overly partisan and even mean-spirited in some of its criticisms of the right… and Maddow saying “but FOX does it first!… and they’re worse” … and Stewart gently explaining (as your mother used to when you had squabbles at school) that just because you’re being reactive doesn’t make it the proper thing to do, and so what if FOX does it, we should be better than they are…
So what do you all think of Jon Stewart’s lofty vision? I often wonder if it’s necessary or even wise to elevate the discourse. It seems to me it’s been pretty down and dirty for as long as there’s been politics, and some of the political cartoons and broadsheets from a hundred years ago would curl your hair. Canada is a famously polite nation, but the politics get downright vicious here as well. I suspect maybe vigorous, no-holds-barred political discourse is a sort of catharsis for partisan negativity, and possibly even necessary for a healthy democracy.
Which side is worse when it comes to dirt-slinging? And should one side unilaterally disarm (as Jon Stewart would prefer) in hopes the other will follow suit? I think the big problem for both sides lies in the title of my piece. You can try to be nice, you can resolve to be high-minded and courteous and civil… but then somebody threatens your little dog and it just pushes your buttons, and the war is on. I’d be interested in hearing what pushes YOUR buttons, particularly. Let’s ignore Jon Stewart for a while and air some of these grievances.
What do people on the other side do that just drives you nuts? Maybe we’re not even aware of things that induce a hostile knee-jerk reaction in our opposition, and if we knew, we’d stop doing it. (Or not… 🙂
Come on, people. We’re all friends here. For just a little while… let’s AMPLIFY!!!
- Jon Stewart To Appear On Rachel Maddow Show (lezgetreal.com)
- Jon Stewart Explains His Problem With Cable News (observer.com)
- Rachel Maddow & Jon Stewart Seek Journalistic Soul By Gazing Into Each Other’s Navels (mediaite.com)
- The Maddow/Stewart Interview (secularshawshank.wordpress.com)
- Rachel Maddow Gets Ambushed By Jon Stewart [Video] (realestateradiousa.com)
- Rachel Maddow Clashes, Civilly, With Jon Stewart In Hour’s Worth Of Interview Excerpts (huffingtonpost.com)
- Maddow vs. Stewart: They’re Both Right (atheistrev.com)