Monday, March 3, 2008

Is This Who We Have Become?

I heard a story the other day that troubles me. Actually, it is more the reaction the story provoked that I find troubling. It says something about our tendency towards a "mobocracy."

The story was told to a group of civic leaders. It was about an issue before an elected body here in Delaware. The teller had been advocating an unpopular position to that elected body in a room filled with a raucous crowd in opposition. He reported that there was one person there who he knew agreed with him, but that person was afraid to speak up because of the vocal crowd.

He finished the story and the group all laughed. Open discourse on a public issue was stifled by fear of a mob and we found that funny.

It reminded me of some of the stories that have come out of the Indian River School District religion lawsuit. Families wanting to speak on an issue to the school board that is supposed to represent them were afraid of an angry mob.

It also brings to mind the very strong reaction that many folks had a few days back to what appears now to have been a doubtful report of anti-Islam/anti-Obama statements by an elementary school teacher. When folks thought that report was accurate, there were calls for direct, and rather stern, action against a school teacher. Subsequent reports that call the original into question got much less attention.

Are we a mob, ruled by our passions? That is not who we are meant to be. Yet recent events suggest that we may be on our way to becoming that mob.

I hope not. At the very least, I don't think it is funny.

4 comments:

jason330 said...

Mike,

I see you point. But I for one refuse to go back to the bad old days.

Liberals have always taken the highroad and have been measured and reasonable. The problem was that our calm was not reciprocated and the result was that loud persistent liars on the right undid 200 years of democratic reason and wrecked the country.

I don't intend to stand by and let that continue. If I have to be as loud, persistent and rude to participate in this new style of discourse that they loosed on the country I will.

If it takes a mob on the left to fight back the mob of liars and crooks on the right count me in.

Shirley Vandever said...

Mike, I agree and also don’t like it. While I have no problem with civil disobedience, I find that usually the “mobs” have not fully researched whatever position they are advocating. That is the most troubling.

When we are ruled by the ignorant out of fear, that is when we are really in trouble. Perhaps that is already happening.

A story: Back in the late-80’s I was attending Temple University. Louis Farrakhan made a visit to the campus (I forget the issue), and many of the students participated in a sit-down “protest”. I asked a classmate of mine what they were protesting. She responded, “I don’t know, we’re just protesting”. She was in it for the excitement and had no idea what the issue was.

Makes you wonder

Joe M said...

Mike,

I understand your reprehension. When it comes to politics, it can be hard to distinguish the line between passion and mob mentality. I see the same thing in the fight that secularists bring to the table.

The thing that helps us make the distinction is rational thought. If the argument contains rational argument, no matter how passionate, it's a good thing.

If there's passion without rational thought, it's mob mentality, which can and should be summarily ignored. As human beings, we are subject to strong passions, but those passions become movements when they are backed by rational thought.

Mobs may make the news, but movements can change the world.

kavips said...

Every time I hear "mob mentality" I think of an old John Wayne film, where the mob comes to lynch an innocent man. John Wayne fires shots over the crowds head, then talks them out of their plan.

As is usual, the head of the mob, turns out to be the criminal who did the crime......

There is a lesson for all parties in that scene I think........

Jason's word "rude" jumped out at me, and sometimes i think, there is an opportune time to use that tool.

But its effect is only for a short time. conservatives have used rudeness for years now, and there are not many Republicans left..................

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