Today, public discourse, in the media and in person, is often reduced to a shouting match and who can get the most sound bites in before the next commercial or the “host” changes the topic.
It wasn’t that long ago, that political opponents, such as the late William F. Buckley, Jr. and California Governor Jerry Brown would sit down for an hour and discuss topics of current interest. They would engage each other, smiling, having fun, enjoying the discussion. It wouldn’t be the unrestrained street fights we see on cable show’s today.
Opposing viewpoints being argued, civilly. No screaming, no disrespect and no name calling. Two men, well prepared for the verbal joust they were entering. Most importantly, no host to point the show where he/she wants it to go.
I was mesmerized watching this recording.
This was Firing Line. This segment was recorded on October 3, 1975. Imagine two, men of differing opinions talking to each other. This is like ancient history, even though it was only 46 years ago. The title of this program was “The Practical Limits of Liberalism”. Yet, if you listen to this, you would never know that is what it is about because the meaning of the term “liberalism” has changed. You will see an audience of young people but you didn’t hear a peep from them. . . respect for the speakers.
I challenge you to listen to this broadcast and tell me you don’t marvel at the mutual intellect, composure and respect. If you don’t want to spend an hour, just find a spot and listen for five minutes. What do you have to lose?
There is nothing, absolutely nothing like this available today and we are poorer for it.