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Political dialogue is topic of event

By Staff | Sep 17, 2010

SHEPHERDSTOWN – The Friends Meeting of Shepherdstown and the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies is sponsoring a presentation by Kathryn Ruud titled “Protecting Our Democracy: American Political Talk in the Age of Infotainment” at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Byrd Center auditorium.

Ruud will address these questions:

What is happening to political dialogue in the United States?

Why did we stop listening to each other?

How can we foster constructive political discussion?

Ruud, a linguist, has done research on manipulative language used by fascists in interwar Germany and by communists in post-World War II East Germany.

Her research informs her analysis of the current polarized political discourse. She argues that many of the same tactics used by propagandists from both extremes are undermining political discussion in the United States today.

Ruud takes on the right, the left, radicalism, totalitarianism and libertarianism.

She describes seven major strategies of polarization with examples, such as talk radio’s Rush Limbaugh and TV’s Keith Olbermann.

She then discusses traditional “gatekeepers,” such as newspapers that have moderated public debate in the past, but are fading in the Information Age.

Finally, she introduces personal strategies we can use in public and private communication to counter destructive political talk.

Admission is free and the presentation is open to the public.

The Byrd Center is at 213 N. King St. on the Shepherd University campus

Free parking is available next door behind the Ikenberry Hall.

Go to www.byrdcenter.org for more information.