Cal Thomas: Uncivil debate

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, the fifth of April. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

A young survivor of the deadly attack in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is no stranger to harsh words.

Seventeen-year-old David Hogg was egged on by interviewers from a digital media company called “The Outline.”

And the young gun-control activist joined in enthusiastically, in an interview conducted at his parents’ home. The video is from YouTube. We’ve covered up the obscenities.

OUTLINE: Do you guys ever think, ‘why the —- are we the ones who are doing this?’

HOGG: Well at this point, it’s like when your old — parent’s like, ‘oh, I don’t know how to send an iMessage,’ you’re just like, ‘give me the ——- phone’ and you take it and you’re like, ‘okay, let me handle it,’ and you get it done in one second. Sadly, that’s what we have to do with our government, because our parents don’t know how to use a ——- democracy, so we have to.

EICHER: Now Hogg’s using the power of boycott.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham criticized the high-school student on Twitter after he complained of having received four college rejections. Ingraham’s complaint was that Hogg, in her estimation, was whining.

So Hogg hit back, calling Ingraham a bully. He pressured advertisers on Ingraham’s TV show, and they pulled out in droves. More than a dozen dropped their network ads.

During this time, Ingraham was on vacation, and had substitute hosts fill in for her. The TV network said the vacation was pre-planned and that she’s expected back next Monday night.

Meantime, Ingraham apologized, but Hogg didn’t accept, calling it insincere, coming only after the ad-boycott campaign started working.

You will not find many defenders of an adult commentator with a large media platform giving even the appearance of picking on a teenager — no matter how provocative that teenager.

REICHARD: But WORLD Radio commentator Cal Thomas finds the entire episode troubling. Troubling because in it he sees a microcosm of the new rising intolerance that discourages civil debate and encourages tribal wars.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: I really do hope Laura Ingraham and David Hogg are able to get together and have a debate over issues.

I don’t know David Hogg, but what I’ve seen of him in the mainstream media shows a precocious debater.

Actually, Hogg reminds me of Laura Ingraham back when I first met her.

In the early 1980s, she was a student at Dartmouth College. Even then she was smart, articulate, and opinionated.

She and two male colleagues got into a battle with the college administration over a student publication called “The Dartmouth Review.” The conservative campus newspaper often satirized the growing political correctness movement.

I know Laura as a kind, compassionate woman and a practicing Roman Catholic. She is a single mother of three adopted children who might have experienced a far different life without her. She is also a breast cancer survivor.

Bottom line: Laura Ingraham’s not as she’s portrayed.

I am genuinely troubled by this immediate resort to forms of warfare instead of debate. This is the wrong approach: How about celebrating the spirit of the First Amendment by encouraging people to say what they think?

Then viewers can decide whether to “buy” what a program is selling or change channels. That was what the left said to do in the 1980s when conservatives were upset by some TV programming. If that was an option then, and it was, then it ought to be an option now.

Debate is far better than boycotts and pressure. The country and its politics would benefit from genuine debate, rather than attempts to silence people with whom we might disagree.

Remember what Joy Behar said on ABC’s “The View” about Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian faith? Apparently under similar pressure from ABC, Behar apologized on the air. But she went even further, calling the vice president and apologizing to him directly, which he graciously accepted.

Good for them.

So let David Hogg speak his mind and let Laura Ingraham have her say. And here’s hoping they can make like the Beatles and work it out.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.

AUDIO: Beatles “We Can Work It Out”

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, left, and Rich Schultz) In this combination photo, Fox News personality Laura Ingraham speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 20, 2016, left, and David Hogg, a student survivor from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., speaks at a rally for common sense gun legislation in Livingston, N.J. on Feb. 25, 2018. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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