Thank you for Smoking(the movie) and Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent's Dinner are pretty bitingly funny bits of recent satire. There's definitely a "liberal bias" (if you're a conservative), so you may not find them funny depending on your political bent. But interestingly, the protaganists of both pieces (who are both fictional) are particurlarly amusing (and scary) because of the earnestness of their convictions. To me, they reflect (in jest) an increasing trend in the real world, particularly among public figures on all sides: more and more, there are lots of lots of people talking, and not so many listening.
I blame the Internet.
In the U.S., we saw a massive polarization during the last two elections (red states vs. blue states) that reflected a heightening contrast in ideology.
Its easy to dismiss this breakdown as religious politics or as an IQ gap. And maybe there's some truth to that, though I find those arguments facile.
While there are numerous good things that the broader communications palette afforded by the Internet enables, I tend to think there's one big capability that cuts both ways: like-minded people can trivially find each other.
There's really no longer any compelling reason that you can't live a functionally complete life being connected to only the things with which you agree. Unfortunately, the diluting effects of community homogenization (the great melting pot) are only effective if there's meaningful interaction of thought.
I guess the question is: does that make a society stronger or weaker?
And why do people get so upset? Yes, often its because the issues are serious. More and more, though, I think its because one-sided houses are easy to knock over, and nobody likes getting conked in the head with a bad assumption two-by-four...
More on this in a future post - there are a few other important contributors to consider, including the sorcery that modern technology has become, the cognitive information overload of modern life, and the implications of truly global living.