By Dr. Larry Burriss
Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is already made up. Ignorance is bliss. Bury your head in the sand.
We’ve talked a lot here about keeping informed, and the importance of debate on public issues. But debating and keeping informed are just what some people apparently want to avoid.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say, “We don’t need to talk about this. It’s wrong and that’s all there is to it.” Well, that kind of attitude leads to rigid thinking and stagnation. So on public policy issues it’s almost impossible to have enough debate.
Somehow, I’ve always had this funny notion one of the ways to solve problems is to talk about them. Talk about them through public forums, talk about them through newspapers, talk about them on radio and television, talk about them on the Internet.
Let’s take a trip back in time to the beginning of the republic.
Remember what happened before, during and after the Revolutionary War? There was debate, and lots of it. The newspapers of the day were full of debate, some of it scandalous and scurrilous, but always interesting and intriguing.
Now, there are some pretty strong feelings all sorts of issues these days: the virus, climate change, inflation and immigration. And that’s good. But there is also a lot of confusion. And that’s bad.
The city council, the state legislature and Congress, all filled with people who are supposed to know what they are doing, can’t even agree on whether or not to even talk about these issues.
And if they’re confused, imagine what is going on in the public’s mind.
No, debate and discussion on public policy issues is never a bad thing. Being willing to debate and discuss is how we resolve public concerns.
Being willing to debate and discuss is how we arrive at good solutions to bad problems. Being willing to debate and discuss is how we discover the truth.
I’m Larry Burriss
About Dr. Burriss
Larry Burriss, professor of journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level he teaches quantitative research methods and media law. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in broadcast journalism, M.A. in journalism), the University of Oklahoma (M.A. in human relations), Ohio University (Ph.D. in journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.). He has worked in print and broadcast news and public relations, and has published extensively in both academic and popular publications. He has won first place in the Tennessee Associated Press Radio Contest nine times. Dr. Burriss’ publications and presentations include studies of presidential press conferences, NASA photography, radio news, legal issues related to adolescent use of social networking sites, legal research, and Middle Earth.
Dr. Burriss has served as director of the School of Journalism, dean of the College of Mass Communication and president of the MTSU Faculty Senate. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served on active duty in Mali, Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and the Pentagon.