Ethics Quote of the Week: Salon Columnist Joan Walsh

Apparently I'm the pigeon in the lower left box.

“No one can be given credit for speaking from genuine moral or political conviction anymore; everyone can be dismissed or derided with a nod to their personal background. This may be the logical end of identity politics, where ultimately we’re each locked inside whatever little box we check, tiny caucuses of one, and common ground is impossible.”

—-Joan Walsh in Salon, bemoaning the accelerating tendency in public debate to discredit all beliefs, assertions and opinions, no matter how sincere or well-supported, as the product of bias and narrow self-interest.

Her comment could not be better timed, from my point of view. How tired I am of having readers demonstrate the trend Walsh describes by reflexively attributing every post I write as being proof of bias and a pre-existing agenda. If I criticize an atheist, I am a religious zealot; if I find fault with Obama, I must be a racist; if I point out that a production of “The Mikado” doesn’t really call for Sarah Palin to be beheaded, I’m a Left-winger. The problem is, unfortunately, that many prominent positions in the public square and blogosphere are driven by agendas and biases. It is so common that the concepts of independent judgement, an open mind and objectivity seem quaint and unrealistic.

I don’t know how to combat the problem, which is as serious as Walsh suggests. Recognizing it is a start.

4 thoughts on “Ethics Quote of the Week: Salon Columnist Joan Walsh

  1. I call it bias-sniping; quickly neutralizing an opponent rather than undergoing the copious research and rhetorical engagement the user is typically too lazy and too comparatively unintelligent to successfully employ.

    While you’re absolutely right about the pernicious effects of bias-sniping, the subjective plane is the least of our worries. That objective fact is becoming inadmissible when presented by the other side is far more dangerous.

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