An interesting discussion recently took place between TVO's Steve Paikin and PR consultant James Hoggan, the author of "I'm Right and You're an Idiot," about the toxic state of public discourse. (Video at end of article.)
The problem with the interview on Ontario's public educational broadcaster is that essentially, these two people are engaging in the practice they're condemning.
They make assertions without actual evidence and presume that anyone who doesn't agree with their highly disputed positions must be wrong, duped, or a victim of propaganda.
So their conversation, if in any way enlightening, is mainly so as a window into the minds of people who generate leftist propaganda.
If what they say were true, then oil produced in Canada is not more ethically sourced than oil from Saudi Arabia or Iran. It means that all of David Suzuki's climate change allegations must be accurate even though his "climate experts" can't explain what percentage of it is caused by human activity or why all of their prediction models have proved to be wrong.
It also means that it's not nice to call genital mutilation a "barbaric cultural practice," although I suspect these two white, liberal Canadian men might have an entirely different opinion if they were women whose clitorises had been forcibly sliced off.
These are important subjects where there can be intelligent divergences of opinion. But the way Paikin and Hobban frame it, if you disagree with them, you're wrong and are impervious to facts. Which is ironic, since everything they assert as fact is only opinion.
The media is a huge part of the toxic state of affairs in public discourse. They promote the dishonesty of morons in the way the Toronto Star uncritically gives publicity to false allegations by the emotionally disturbed, Munchausen Jews of "Independent Jewish Voices," a group founded by 9-11 conspiracy weirdo, Diana Ralph.
It works in the way Canada's publicly-funded CBC gives airtime to radical leftist flakes like Scaachi Koul, presenting them as "mainstream."
And it's present on TVO, when Paikin does an interview with Avi Lewis, which he allows to become a 20 minute commercial for Naomi Klein's husband's airheaded, neo-Marxist Leap Manifesto. Paikin didn't ask his friend Lewis a single critical question about that document's extremist, historically-unsuccessful proposals, though every serious economist who has read it considers it preposterous.
Paikin and Hobban are right that people are becoming more tribal and impervious to facts. In order to correct that, people have to take it upon themselves to discover the facts from as many sources as possible. It also means that you can't believe something, just because someone says it in the news or on TV. Even if the news is on TVO.