March 13, 2006

Hammering a Point

I was channel surfing on my satellite radio on the way home (give a straight man a remote control, we surf, that's what we do) and ran across the Sean Hannity show on ABC Radio. Hannity is a right-wing conservative who appears nightly on Fox News (where else). I disagree with much of what he stands for, but I find it helpful to listen to opposing points of view from time to time.

Anyway, what really bothered me was not something he said but a statement from one of his callers. After proudly stating he was a republican, he told Hannity (I'm paraphrasing), "I'm a teacher, and there's five republicans and two democrats sitting at the lunch table every day. We hammer them pretty good but they still don't get it." Hannity applauded him for the effort he was putting into converting democrats and encouraged him to continue.

I wonder if that's how he teaches--hammers the lessons across to his students? Is that the only way people communicate anymore? Does anyone listen? Is a respectful exchange of ideas not cool anymore?

I'm not just talking about the right wing, either. When I listen to liberal talk programs, they are often calling President Bush a moron of idiot or a variety of other disrespectful names. All that kind of talk does is fire up people who agree with it and stiffen the resolve of those who disagree to force their point of view on everyone. There are ways to disagree with someone's actions or policies without stooping to name calling, but it's easier to take the cheap shot and maybe get a few laughs in the process.

It's hard to really understand both sides of an issue and have an educated debate. Who wants to make that kind of effort anyway?

If we're not careful, we might learn something.


  1. The problem today is not that we disagree, it's not that we aren't like minded. The real problem is that we don't know how to disagree. How sad that people feel like "hammering" does anything good. All it dos is destroy and push down. Great post.


  2. It seems name calling is what passes for discourse these days. Sad, isn't it?

    (BTW, we gay men are just as dangerous with the remote ;-) )

  3. The best way to get a person to "see the light" is to ask the right questions. That's a lot of what counseling is all about. Don't you think?

  4. Unfortunately, this is nothing new.

    Almost 20 years before my father was born, Irish poet WB Yeats wrote these words:

    The centre cannot hold...
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity