The quality of civic discourse…

Graduate student Amy Sullivan gets a ‘C’ from me for her “Sticks and Stones” column in The American Prospect. There are plenty of reasons to claim or assume that the quality of civic discourse in America is declining. But I think any such claim or assumption should properly demonstrate the writer’s understanding of the complexity of the issue. This isn’t simply a matter of one faction down-talking the virtuous other. All factions engage in rough talk, innuendo, fabrication, propaganda, and spin. These are not Republican-only diseases. By treating them as such, Sullivan is guilty of the academic sin of over-simplifying her subject to the detriment of her audience. This is not to say she is wrong on any particular point.