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Letter

Outrage-mongers are very popular. While once dominated by ultra-right politics, they now represent every aspect of the political spectrum.

Why? Because emotional blather is far more provoking and entertaining than calm, measured discussion and argument. From an economic perspective, outrage sells. It appeals to everyone on a primal level and if you're in the business of selling airtime, having a primal hook is where you want to be.

But here is my concern. Outrage politics usurp the fundamental requirement for a democratic society. It deliberately drives people away from informed decisions by overdriving emotional reactions, not toward a considered argument but against a perceived enemy. And that perceived enemy is anyone who would dare to challenge the the speaker's rhetoric.

The effect of this, and I dare say the intended purpose of this, is to create a highly polarized society that can be predictably managed by simple outrageous comments not limited by the confines of facts. Indeed, "truth" and "fact" are the arch enemies of outrage politics.

The only defense against this, whether you favor the right or left politically, is knowledge. You do not get knowledge from outrage-mongers.

Jim Watts,

Missoula

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