Monday, April 2, 2012

Steve Johnson's remarks that opened the UAA Stanford Debate

Steve Johnson at the podium opening the debate.
In case they went by too fast, here is how program director Steve Johnson couched the debate, addressing the low nature of our current public discourse.

"In his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, author and social critic Neil Postman writes
When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk.
"It may be now that we’re beyond risk and in crisis.  Our public discourse of late seems to treat participants as targets for slander and character attacks, our leader’s commitments as fleeting as a image on an Etch-a-Sketch and the rights of minorities as dependent upon the personal convictions of an even smaller minority.  I’ll be honest; I sometimes feel that teaching the skills of reasoned discourse is a bit like tending a candle in the dark. 

"But the enlightenment that debate can deliver is essential, and I have faith that with the bright light of reasoned argument, we can better see the best, most just and honest path.
"I’m pleased, therefore, on behalf of the Seawolf Debate Program, to welcome you to what I hope will be an illuminating debate on an important issue."

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