Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pendulum of Intolerant Messages

According to Louis Wirth, “if the experiment of America shows anything, it shows that, despite the many setbacks which the democratic ideal and practice have suffered, we are determined to achieve consensus and have found the road toward it without too much coercion through the idea of cultural pluralism, which is another expression for the toleration of differences…we have…learned to live with people of diverse background and character to a degree sufficient at least to achieve the requirements of a fairly orderly, productive, and peaceful society” (p. 252).

I think this is an interesting excerpt because I wonder how true it is in today’s society?

I’m posting a slightly older YouTube video that provides some examples of how our society remains intolerant.  In this video, Dr. Breeding talks (in part) about how the media perpetuates intolerant perceptions and behaviors in society.  I’m sure many can contribute more current media examples of intolerant messages in our society today.

I perceive the messages of mass communication as swinging on a giant pendulum that society set in motion.  Although there may be some disagreement on this subject, I believe these messages began (for the most part) as highly conservative and have slowly swung over the years to more liberal messages, back to conservative, back to liberal and so forth and so on.  When one viewpoint fails, the other kicks in.  However, history has shown us that both sides of the pendulum (messages/viewpoints) bring their own levels of intolerance.  Is one worse than the other?

I do believe that compared to 1947, our levels of tolerance have evolved but have we really become more tolerant?  Or have our definitions of tolerance and intolerance changed?  Have the majority truly learned to live with “people of diverse background and character?”  And does learning to live with people who are culturally and characteristically “different” really make a more orderly, productive, and peaceful society?  Is learning to live enough?

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