In her essay “Taking TV’s “‘War of Words’” Too Literally,”1 Georgetown University linguist Deborah Tannen examines the rise of what she calls the “argument culture.” That argument is a significant part of American culture today is clear whenever we turn on the television set. Talking heads that populate the airwaves with ardent speakers can be found on various talk shows, especially cable’s quasi-news programs such as MSNBC’s Hardball or CNN’s Crossfire.
Many instructors of writing would perhaps argue about what freshmen college students lack the most these days in terms of developing a writing foundation that will enable them to manage the multitude of papers they will undoubtedly write throughout their college careers. Some might say “style and syntax,” while others would certainly say “the ability to hold a well-founded opinion.”
Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is a very rich text, one that relates in all kinds of interesting ways to its cultural and political context. It also resonates in some provocative ways with issues surrounding the current conflict in Iraq – when is protesting disloyal? Where should responsibility lie for atrocities?