Saturday, May 10, 2008

The bumper sticker mind

While on my way to Northern Virginia, I noticed a vehicle ahead loaded with bumperstickers.  (And I do mean loaded as there were at least 20 to 30 such stickers plastered all over the back of the car.)  I wondered how it would be possible to have a cogent dialogue with the person whose analytical prowess can be distilled into 4 words, give or take a few, on each of the bumperstickers.

One bumpersticker struck me as interesting.  It read "Arms are for hugging".  Now I come from the weapons technology area of the Naval Aviation community, and I never thought of hugging a missile.  (Of course, I am being silly here, but what would be the reaction from the mind of the bumpersticker-ette who was driving the car.  Would she have appreciated the play on words or would she have been horribly offended and then resorted to some emotional outburst to show just how passionately she was opposed to the military and whatever war was being waged in defense of America.)

It seems that in a world where crimes are solved in 40 minutes with 20 minutes for commercials, there is no time for or interest in complicated arguments.  And where are the complicated arguments? Certainly not in the news, and increasingly not in the hallowed halls of academe where propaganda can all too easily take the place of intellectual debate.  

If America is to remain a nation of free people, it must challenge its citizens to think logically not just passionately. As a CEO friend of mine once said, "In God We Trust.  All others bring data."  And by data, he did not mean more noise, distraction or clever twists of language.     

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