Monday, January 17, 2011

Bonnie Brennen gets civility right

Marquette Journalism Professor Bonnie Brennen gets it right in a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that looks at the state of discourse today.

The newspaper asked "six Wisconsin professors whose specialties are history, political science or communication" about the state of discourse. The other five -- including a couple of personal friends of mine -- correctly said that political discourse has been very unpleasant throughout our history, including duels and attacks on the Capitol floor. But Brennen brought the discussion to communication (which is really what we're all talking about)." There is seemingly no interest in having a rational conversation," she was quoted as saying.

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater communications professor Richard Haven also looked at the question beyond merely discourse between political figures to discuss our public conversation, citing "instant communication" and extreme political positions as reasons for a sharp decline in politically civility.

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