Tim (Not sure if this comment is replying properly to yours. I hope so. The "reply" button isn't working properly.) I wasn't advocating for a diversity of viewpoints in my post. This post was simply about having civil discourse. Heckling kills civil discourse. Having a diversity of viewpoints in the public sphere -- which includes ill informed and rude viewpoints, I suppose -- is different. I would advocate having the rude people hold their own events to express their views, which I would attend politely. I get really annoyed when people hijack other people's events.

If a group of checker players had regular meetings, and one day, someone walked in yelling "Chess is Best! Chess is Best!" and disrupted their checker playing so badly that they had to stop playing checkers, then that would be a sad thing.

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Mar 1Liked by Laura McKenna

As always, the problem is that appeals for positive political conversations only work on people who share the value assumptions that underlie such conversations. Or the people who feel comfortable with articulating their views in a way that opens them up to disagreement or critique. Some people aren't sure what they think; some people think things but don't know how to articulate them; some people know their views are indefensible in a "rational conversation" but they still hold to those views.

I think it's roughly the same problem as saying "you should invest effort in trying to understand people you strongly disagree with, and you should try to create a space for them to be part of the sociopolitical world you belong to". When that's said by by conservatives, it's essentially concern trolling: they feel no such obligation themselves. You are never going to hear Chris Rufo talking about why he values having liberals or leftists around him and how he wants to learn more about how they think. When we say these things--or have them said to us--we are situating ourselves as reasonable people who can hear all sides of an issue and situating ourselves as the desired "normal" of democratic life, as a kind of universal political subject. But we're not: it's a very particular mindset that happens to play to our strengths (educated, cosmopolitan, comfortable speaking and writing, etc.) and what we say we want only works with people who have roughly the same mindset and roughly the same strengths and skills.

The heckler already knows what they think is true and is fundamentally uninterested in discussing it with you or anybody else. That's a coherent disposition; if we really wanted to be totally open to viewpoint diversity etc. we would have to acknowledge the coherency of that position. But we don't want to. (I'm with you on not wanting it.) But we have trouble articulating our preferences as a particular kind of ideological commitment, a particular vision of political personhood, and thus the limits of our preferences are hard for us to fully process.

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Heckling annoys me, too. I like listening to someone who opposes my views but can articulate their point of view calmly. Occasionally, I actually change my mind about something! I'm currently teaching two seventh-graders about rhetoric and rhetorical argument. The materials I have go into the influence of advertising and extreme politics. However, now that I've read this, I will spend some time on group think and how social media has changed what we expect from candidates. Interestingly, these students are not allowed much technology at all, and probably have not been on social media! I'm interested to see their reaction when they find out more about it. Thanks for mentioning this - it's an excellent thing for teachers to discuss with students, especially in an election year.

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