The Message, the Messenger, and the Platform

In our violently argumentative and abusive society, we not only disagree with each other, we want to destroy each other because we disagree.

Our arguments are primarily emotional rather than rational or logical. We seem to have lost the ability to debate ideas and issues and instead resort to abuse and attack.

As I read comments on social media, I am impressed with the strategies that are now employed to silence opposition.

We used to be able to debate ideas. Ideas are the message. It is entirely appropriate to disagree with the message and put forward a counter-message believed to be the correct one.

It is not enough today to disagree with the message and offer a counter argument, we are now setting out to deliberately destroy the messenger who brings us these ideas. “Killing the messenger” for bringing bad news is not a new reaction. We have heard about it for thousands of years. The only difference is that we have social media that promote this behavior.

How many times have your or I read a Facebook post or Tweet that has put forth an opinion only to be attacked by readers that assault the person sharing the opinion. There is no valid argument put forth to disagree with the opinion, only a violent abuse of the person.

How did we move from civilized debate to personal attacks?

  1. K. Chesterton wrote many books that were in response to an idea with which he disagreed. His favorite protagonist was George Bernard Shaw. We admire Chesterton because he used rational argument to put forward his disagreement.

Today, we are seeing a movement to destroy the platforms that promote ideas with which we do not agree.

We have become so used to social media platforms and the internet to promote our point of view that we are startled when we find out our platforms have been taken away. Twitter  and Facebook accounts have been cancelled. Some media platforms, like Parler, have been shut down. News media, like Life Site News, are under attack and threatened with closure because it publishes pro-life, conservative news articles and opinion pieces.

If you don’t like your opponent’s point of view, destroy the platform.

In the past, we deplored the Inquisition and the Nazi’s for the book burning.  We understood that burning books would not halt ideas.

If only today, we had the same understanding that destroying conservative platforms will not silence conservative views and that angry attacks on a person will not stop ideas.