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Hit and run

Some of you on my friends list, especially homestar, will appreciate this Flash animation about the English language.
Michael Josephson is the founder of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, and has a short segment about ethics on KNX 1070 AM that I like listening to on my ride home. Last week, he had an interesting perspective that I have been subconciously following regarding discussing sensative topics. I've included a copy of the text in the cut tag below for those interested.

Five Questions Before You Spout Off

If you've tried to discuss the war in Iraq with anyone who has a different view than your own, chances are the discussion deteriorated into a name-calling argument that changed no minds and ended in harsh words and bad feelings.

We are living in an increasingly uncivil world where we give lip service to the democratic principle that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but we feel no obligation to treat with respect the opinion or the person who holds it. In fact, lots of people will write you off completely if you are so foolish, uninformed or self-deluded to disagree with their dearly held convictions.

There are times where one should be a leader and have the courage to speak out for a principle, to defend another or to prevent harm. But there are other times where an exchange of opinions yields all heat and no light.

Thus, before spouting off your opinion on complex and controversial issues, here are five questions you should ask yourself:

First, what's your purpose? Are you seeking a real dialogue where you are open to learning and changing your mind or are you simply trying to persuade, bully or bludgeon others to agree with you?

Second, do you have adequate knowledge to back up your opinion? If you're going to talk, it's irresponsible to be uninformed.

Third, is the setting of the communication appropriate?

Fourth, is the audience receptive to considering your point of view? If persuasion is your goal, are you talking to people who can make a difference?

And fifth, can you express the opinion in a manner and tone that is respectful and can you accept disagreement without getting hostile?


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 31st, 2003 10:31 am (UTC)
Not surprising that a professor of ethics would have people stop to consider what they say and how they say it before they say it. Good advice.

Speaking of which, Andy Rooney's piece on last night's 60 Minutes was very well done. Transcript < a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/03/28/60minutes/rooney/main546627.shtml">here.
Mar. 31st, 2003 12:58 pm (UTC)
Andy Rooney is another one of those people who force me to think. I may agree with him, or I may disagree with him. C'est la vie. To me, the more important thing is that I think about what he says and come to my own conslusions. There are terribly few that can do that function for me...

That's an opinion. =)
Apr. 5th, 2003 10:58 pm (UTC)
I digged that flash movie, I needed a good laugh.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )