Discourse and miscourse

Democracies embrace discourse as the ultimate route to political truth. Vigorous debate homes to the essence of issues as diverse as global warming and official decorum, even if debaters themselves never yield. The reward is general illumination.In the era of the sound bite, though, propaganda too easily short-circuits debate. Discourse gives way to what might be called miscourse: the foreclosure of whole arguments by some searing simplicity that ascends to influence for being little more than a convenient filter.So it went with the US presidency just ended of Bill Clinton. And so it goes in the politics of global warming. The oil and gas industry should look close at the popularity rever...

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