Have you ever read an article and didn’t comment on the article? Have you ever read an article, then read through the comments? Well, I have! This week, I had a chance to sit down and read an article from Fox News titled “Obama to anti-Trump protestors: March on.” The article discussed how President Obama had a press conference in Germany. During President Obama’s conference, he spoke on anti-Trump protestors to not stay quiet. What stood out to me in the article is when it is quoted that President Obama said “I suspect that there’s not a president in our history that hasn’t been subject to these protests. So, I would not advise people who feel strongly or who are concerned about some of the issues that have been raised during the course of the campaign, I wouldn’t advise them to be silent.” (Fox News, 2016).
I did not find anything wrong with President Obama’s choices of words, however when I read through the comments, multiple people did. What I found in the comments were undue confidence and unsubstantiated opinions. The textbook, Communication Ethics Literacy Dialogue and Difference states the public arena is the place that protects and promotes discernment among diverse ideas. Public arena lives and prospers when public space for conversation, not one’s own opinion, is the ultimate good (Arnett, R., Bell, L., & Fritz, J., 2009, p. 103). The comments I read were anything but conversational. They were all opinions…..bias and ignorant opinions, if I must add. Some of the comments stated “I guess I can’t expect too much out of Obama, he is the worst president in modern history.” “Obama you need to start packing.” The comments did not have anything to do the message, but all about the person delivering the message.
Undue confidence and unsubstantiated opinions influences the public arena as a “scared space.” Public discourse ethics assumes that the public arena is a “scared space”- a space to be protected, a space that is honored and valued (Arnett, R., Bell, L., & Fritz, J., 2009, p. 109). Most people justify their comments by freedom of speech. Since they can say whatever they like, it is acceptable and they feel conformable. However, we have to try to keep the public domain safe for difference (Arnett, R., Bell, L., & Fritz, J., 2009, p. 109). In my opinion, difference matters, but only when it is actual facts and not a biased opinion.
Informed moderators, such as Lester Holt and Chris Wallace could enhance the dialogue that could take place on public space of public comment sites by asking informative questions to engage readers minds. The public arena does not offer the final answer, it is a place where one takes a grounded stance, engages the grounded stances of others, and make a decision (Arnett, R., Bell, L., & Fritz, J., 2009, p. 103). If moderators ask questions engaging readers minds, those questions could force someone to see the other person’s side and have a new point of view.
Overall, comments under public articles are freedom of speech. However, we have to learn to justify our answers, instead of posting undue confidence and unsubstantiated opinions.
Arnett, R., Bell, L., & Fritz, J. (2009). Communication Ethics Literacy (10th ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc. (ISBN-13: 978-1412942140).
Fox New. (2016, November 17). Obama to anti-Trump protestors: March on. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/11/17/obama-to-anti-trump-protesters-march-on.html