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August 09, 2005

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"We," white man?

I vote for democracy being doomed. :(

Oh, some context is in order.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto are riding through a mountain pass.

Lone Ranger: "Look, Tonto! Apaches in front of us. Apaches behind us. Apaches to either side. We're surrounded!"

Tonto: "We, white man?"

* * *

I'm on my way back from a weekend on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. One of my nephews who lives there is trying to stay sober, but his chances of doing so without any meaningful support within the community is slim.

Likewise moderate political discourse. There are people of discernment like yourself who are appalled at the purple rhetoric eminating from organizations and people who ought to know better. Holocaust trivialization is now a cottage industry among the yammering classes; desensitizing us to true injustices and horrors in the present day.

Yet I don't see a strategy that people of goodwill can take to promote civility in rhetoric. I try to put the more civil blogs up on punditdrome.com ; but on a larger scale, how can we encourage people to talk nice and stay within the bounds of reality?

The conclusion to All the President's Spin lays out our ideas for how political discourse could get better -- more aggressive media coverage, fact-checking on blogs, and satire of outrageous spin. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. Most political and monetary incentives point in the opposite direction, which is why we need to change the incentive structure. It will take time.

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