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Political Dialogue Possible if People Listen Rather Than Shout, Dahlia Lithwick Says in New Speaking Freely Opinion Paper
FOR RELEASE: October 23, 2008
Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute
Arlington, Va., Oct. 23, 2008 – Decrying the current state of political discourse where shouting passes for substance, Dahlia Lithwick emphasizes the need to stop and listen to the viewpoints of others in a new opinion paper released today.
“Let us prove that we understand that free speech is much more than the power to run our mouths; let’s recognize that free listening is at the heart of free speech,” she says in a paper titled “Dispatch From the Wars on Free Listening.”
The opinion piece is the latest in the Speaking Freely series, published jointly by The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in Charlottesville, Va., and The Media Institute in Arlington, Va.
Lithwick, a senior editor at Slate.com, notes that technology enables us to narrowly tailor the viewpoints we want to receive. As a result, “we are today in real peril of becoming the most widely read, information-overloaded, and ignorant generation in history,” she writes.
“This is a plea to recognize that someone who does not share your views is not a moron,” Lithwick says. It’s okay to be angry, but not okay to suppress speech from the other side, she cautions.
Lithwick also condemns the “free speech zones” at the St. Paul and Denver political conventions, which “did their best to keep dissenting speech out of sight of the media and the candidates.”
The two First Amendment groups are releasing the paper in the home stretch of the campaign season to coincide with National Freedom of Speech Week, Oct. 20-26. The week celebrates free speech and free press, and depends on the efforts of many organizations to raise First Amendment awareness. Information about the week is available at www.freespeechweek.org.
“Dispatch From the Wars on Free Listening” is available from both organizations in hard copy and on their websites: www.tjcenter.org and www.mediainstitute.org.