Rabbi James L. Mirel has written a fantastic piece on rhetoric and tone in modern discourse:
My message today is a plea -- a plea for a new civility in a world where the ratings and book sales seem to belong to the one who is most combative, negative and downright nasty. No, I am not arguing for any curtailment in our freedom of speech or press, simply expressing the hope that we might use those important civil rights wisely and judiciously.As my parents have long instructed me, an understatement is much a more powerful tool than an overstatement; and those who you would convince first need to realize that you care. While I may disagree with Rabbi Mirel on most every other issue, I step forward and admit that I have not succeeded in attaining his standards for civility. Here, sir, we agree - I will renew and redouble my efforts.
Though it may fall on ears and eyes unwilling to hear or to see, here is what I look for from the columnists and letter writers, from the commentators and talking heads on the left and the right. In place of the O'Reillys and the Frankens with their shrill rhetoric, unveiled sarcasm and undisguised rudeness, I seek a gentler but no less impassioned voice -- a voice that will command my attention without earning my contempt.
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