Link to What's New This Week Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative

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Shared Reading: Left/Right, Liberal/Conservative

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: July 25, 2004
Latest Update: July 25, 2004

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Index of Topics on Site Reading Title
by Author

  1. Introduction Why I chose to share this reading.
  2. Focus: Main point of this reading.
  3. Reading Full identification of source for reading AND excerpt.
  4. Concepts: Concepts and Key Words.
  5. Discussion Discussion questions.
  6. Conceptual Linking to Substantive Courses What this has to do with our class.

* * *


  • I wanted to share this reading with you as an excellent lecture on the difficulty of balance in reporting and the confusion in facutal reporting and opinion. Becaue I draw frequently from the New York Times, and because I can't keep up a completely balanced reading schedule, you should be aware of biases and how they affect our reading and our interpretation. As we approach the Presidential election there will undoubtedly be more rhetoric than reasoned argument. That means you will need to be more aware of how often factual information and governance discourse switch over to instrumental political discourse. I hope this study of left/right will hope you vote what you believe, not what someone with his/her own agenda tells you to believe. That is one sense in which democracy really depends on thoughtful voting.


  • i would like you to come away from this reading with a sense that you need to talk over with others, those whose values you share, and perhaps some of those whose values differ from yours, to be sure that your vote really means what you intend it to mean.

Concepts and Key Words:

  • opinion vs. balance in reporting - tradition is that newspapers represent opinon of their constitutency of readers - As Okrent says, opinion is, well, opinion. It would be an oxymoron to call opinion balanced.
  • instrumental discourse - newspaper should promote knowledge of issue in addition to its persuasion to its own view or opinion.
  • illocutionary discourse - this is what's missing when balance is missing


Discussion Questions:

  1. Does your vote count?

    Not only does your vote count, but your willingness to engage in discussions on the issues counts. Think it through. That's the crux of democracy, a people who want, think through, and vote for a better future.

  2. Is there really a left and right, or is it all the same now?

    Consider Okrent's answer to that. New York City is New York City, a place unto itself. In comparison to (compared to what?) the central states, that's left. It's urban, avant-garde, diverse, fast-paced, exciting, and living through its diversity. That makes it very different from Podunk, Kansas. That's one reason we have states' rights. Our country is diverse, and people in different sections, sometimes need to recognize and cope with those differences. That doesn't mean that one or the other perspective is either right or wrong. We're different. We need to honor that difference.

  3. Do you now who Noam Chomsky is?

    Radical left, very famous linguist. The pariah by nat hentoff.

Conceptual Linking to Substantive Courses:

  • Agencies:
    Sample linking: Ways in which underlying assumptions of assimilation affect services offered and clients' ability to access and use those services. How does this reading illustrate the need for social agencies, for more generalized agencies, for what Bolman and Deal would call "leadership" AND "management"? How does this reading suggest ways in which we could be more effective in rendering help, and what is the reading's relationship to a "safety net" for those who need help?

  • Criminal Justice:
    Sample linking: Ways in which some groups are underrepresented in the unstated assumptions of our theories. How does this reading serve to illustrate adversarialism, mutuality, retribution, revenge, illocutionary understanding, the definition and operation of the criminal justice system?

  • Law:
    Sample linking: Extent to which laws are made on the assumption that we are all essentially assimilated to the dominant culture. How does this reading help us see the need for contextual readings in law? How does it relate to our natural instincts to seek some kind of natural law? What facts and principles does the reading offer for discourse that could clarify for Others validity claims presented by an Obscure Other?

  • Moot Court:
    Sample linking: Ways in which to make validty claims of harm understood by those who have never experienced many of the world's different perspectives. How can this reading enlighten our praxis in terms of different kinds of discourse, like instrumental, illocutionary, governance?

  • Women in Poverty:
    Sample linking: The culture of poverty and assimilation. How does the reading deal with our underlying assumptions about poverty, especially poverty of the exploited, the NOT- male? What does the reading suggest of the interrelationship between our society and its children, generally cared for by women, often poor?

  • Race, Gender, Class:
    Sample linking: The extent to which silence has been imposed by these affiliations so that domination and discrimination have entered our unstated assumptions in interpersonal relations and the structural context arising from them. What does the reading tell us about exploitation and alternative ways to deal with one another? What does it tell us about institutionalized -isms and our denial of complicity? What does it tell us about our common humanity?

  • Religion:
    Sample linking: The spiritual component. Humans are spiritual creatures, creatures that recognize moments that go beyond ourselves to God, Allah, Isis, Gaia, the Universe, or a deep sense of responsibility to create our own meanng. How does the reading fit into our ability, our need to create such meaning in life?

  • Love !A:
    Sample linking: What's the aesthetic link in this reading? How does it bring us closer to one another as humans? What does it tell us about our need for love, unconditional love, not rewards for doing well or being well, but caring and acceptance for being who we are?