It's clear that we all have different views on the freedom of speech and what side it's best to err on. No point in banging my head against the wall about it anymore.
|We're electing a President, not a debate captain. Rules on how to talk in politics heads off into territory I don't want to travel.|
this article by David Mitchell. For those of you with the misfortune to have never heard of him, he's an actor/writer/comedian/satirist so forgive the lighter tone of his writing.
I've frequently found myself getting annoyed at such political tactics being used so this article really highlighted the issue for me. I'm primarily thinking about this from the point of view of British politics, which arent quite at the soap opera heights of American politics yet, but we're narrowing the gap!
So the basic premise is: You (Mr President/Mr Prime Minister) do
something and your opponent, on behalf of the poor downtrodden masses being so brutally oppressed, demand you immediately apologise. You don't have many options from here, you can issue a fake apology, which noone particularly cares about as the issue never mattered it was just about scoring points. You can refuse to apologise and call your opponent a fool. Sensible people will probably agree with you but the idiots will probably think you're in the wrong and ignoring the plight of the masses. You can try ignoring them and moving on, but they can keep raising the point by continually demanding the apology. After all, intelligent people can largely make up their own minds about things, it's the uninformed and ignorant that are being swayed by petty sniping.
An example: In the UK there have been threats of a strike by fuel drivers, so the government tells people to be sensible and make sure they fill up their tanks when they're at the pumps and maybe store fuel in a jerry can.
The response from the opposition: 1. A jerry can is apparently the name of a specific sized container which is larger than the amount of fuel we can legally store at home (without whatever license). So the government are being irresponsible fools who are encouraging people to break the law and kill themselves,
2. Some idiot tries decanting fuel from one container to another in their kitchen while the gas hob is on cooking dinner. The fumes ignite and she suffers 40% burns. I'd say this is natural selection in action, but to the opposition this was clearly because of the government policy and the minister who issued the guidance should immediately resign.
TL/DR Are constant calls for apologies over trivial issues undermining important political discourse? Can/should anything be done to stop it? Is it contributing to voter apathy by reducing politics to a farce?