Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Ds

Debate and Dialogue

Bipartisan debate is a form of price fixing--an exercise in racketering between two well-entrenched mob bosses. In our political world, this is the mutual agreement to fall towards the center. Unfortunately, the center happens to like Rocky Road Ice Cream, not because they actually like it, but because it is unadventurous, and they have been told since the age of reason that it is the flavor they should like if they truly love Ice Cream. So we get a debate, one party argues for extra nuts, the other less; the one accuses the other of poor patriotism towards the concept of Ice cream, while the other insists that the ratio of nuts to heavy cream requires a bit more nuance. But if you like Tin Roof Sundae you are SOL. And both Rocky Road salesmen now bond together to prevent any third alternative. Point being if its a false dichotomy, its not a debate. If the process refuses to challenge the premise, walk away. Of course what debate fails to realize is that during a time of true crisis the Center has a tendency to wimp out, and if truth would be told, the Center kind of sucks.

Which tails into the second word, dialogue. Often an invitation to dialogue is actually a barely disguised summons to appear before a kangaroo court, a theatre of self-criticism of a quasi-Maoist variety.

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