Written in Ink

James Baldwin debates William F. Buckley, c1965

Compare this to the “debates” held the other day. When did public speakers become so stupid, exactly? I mean, obviously Buckley loses this debate, and it was probably obvious even to people in 1965, without the benefit of 50 years of hindsight and perspective and awareness. But at least this debate on both sides is marked by intelligence and articulation, rather than insults and lowest-common-denominator tactics of appealing to the audience’s worst instincts. It matters that the debate was held in England, at Cambridge, but we don’t really see this level of discourse anymore. (also note, NET is what PBS used to be called, “National Educational Television”)

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