End Of Discussion (A Review)

I don't talk about it a lot on here, but I actually really enjoy following politics.  We gave TV up a few months ago, and the thing I most miss is watching the news (I'm pretty sure we will have to get our TV service back before the presidential debates start in earnest).  I like listening to political talk radio, and I like reading political books.

When I saw that "End Of Discussion" by Guy Benson and Mary Katherine Ham was up for review, I just had to request it.  Writing this review may cross the unspoken "let's not talk about politics" rule that seems to be the norm in my blogging circles, but I'm okay with that, because an interest in politics is part of who I am.  If you don't like talking about politics, it won't hurt my feelings if you skip this post.

I have heard Guy Benson on the radio and seen his occasional contributions on Fox News, and so when I heard about this new book, and the topic, it immediately interested me.  "End of Discussion" addresses the problem of the "outrage circus" - and if you are on Twitter, you probably know what I'm talking about even if you haven't heard the term.  

There is an increasing effort in the political realm today to try to shut down discussion of certain issues with manufactured "outrage" directed toward anyone who holds a different opinion.  Sometimes there is genuine outrage, but most often it is a very small group of people (or just the media and/or politicians with their agendas) who find themselves offended that someone else would dare to disagree with the popular opinion, and take it upon themselves to shut down any dissent.  Just because someone is offended does not mean that the person with the offending position does not have a right to say what they think (even if they are dead wrong).  It's gotten to the point where regular people are sometimes afraid to say what they really think if they happen to fall on the less popular side of the issue of the day - and the fact that we can be afraid to speak freely in a country that is supposed to recognize our right to free speech is disturbing.  Unpopular opinions and offensive speech are exactly the kinds of speech that the first amendment was meant to protect.  

I digress, but if you aren't sure what I am talking about, "End of Discussion" provides plenty of compelling examples, and if you read it with an open mind you will be surprised at how much of this subtle stifling of free speech you will start to spot in the culture.  My favorite quote in the book was this:

"Instead of engaging in the rich American tradition of a loud, raucous, messy, free speech free-for-all, we have begun to spend a disturbing amount of our speech just flagging the speech of others. The object is no longer to argue one's own side of any issue passionately, but to argue that the other side should not argue." pg. 16

I felt like that paragraph was the best description of the problem this book attempts to address.

I will say that this book is not a Christian book.  There are curse words scattered throughout (including quotes that include the f-bomb), as well as some examples that include crude content.  I don't agree with or endorse everything in this book - in fact I disagree with the authors' position on some issues (for example, the chapter on g.ay marriage).

That said, the core point of this book is solid, and it will make you view news stories and conversations in a different way.  If you are a conservative, you will probably find yourself nodding your head through this book, and laughing out loud at the dry humor and quips (the footnotes!  They are hilarious).  If you are a liberal, you will probably be offended.  The "outrage circus" is mostly conducted from the left of the political spectrum (though the right isn't immune either, and examples from both sides are given in the book).  But the premise is worth thinking about, no matter where your political persuasions lie.

I think the release of this book was very timely, and I found it especially interesting to read in light of the fact that a few of the Republican candidates for president have successfully resisted the push to apologize for some of their statements, despite the media's fabricated outrage, in recent weeks.  Makes me wonder if any of them have read this book, and I hope the trend continues!

Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Jenna Miller said...

I've been following your blog for years now, but haven't commented before. I love reading your book reviews--I'll have to check this one out.

Callie Nicole said...

Thank you for commenting, Jenna! Yes, this book was interesting - made me think.

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