Freedom of speech carries with it some freedom to listen.
To listen is one of those freedoms few people ever seem to take advantage of. It's easy to get people to stop listening. If I tell you everything you want to hear you won't listen to anything else I have to say. That's the secret behind political rhetoric.
As an actor one of the best lessons I learned was the importance of listening. Even if you've heard the other character's speech a hundred times you have to listen to it carefully and let it sink into your thoughts or you won't be abler to respond accurately and artistically.
I used to teach a seminar in public speaking and one of the things I told my class was that when you are addressing a room full of people on a controversial issue there are three types of listeners: those who agree with you, those who don't and those who aren't sure. Those who agree with you will continue to agree. You want to convince those who aren't sure and make them believers. The best you can probably hope to accomplish with those who disagree is to make them unsure. But in any case they are there to listen to you.
If you are talking only to people who agree with you then there isn't much need for rhetoric of any kind and any argument is pointless. Such was the case with the recent rally in DC to honor our troops as if they weren't being honored. Who doesn't honor our troops even if one disagrees with the wars? Where was the argument? What was the issue?
When there are opposing points of view they have the right to be heard and considered. But at some of the various town meetings across the country in regard to the health care program people came not to discuss or to listen to their elected representatives or to learn the facts, they didn't come in with polemics or opposing arguments or to reason but to yell, insult and disrupt, all under the banner of freedom of speech. The freedom to listen was not exercised.
There is no doubt that the freedom of speech, as with freedom of the press and other rights, are misused. But the freedom to listen isn't.
DB - The Vagabond
(This is not a contest.)
At what event of the past do you wish you could be present? Why?
1 response so far.