Bill Ayers' New York Times Op-Ed explains why he felt the need to steer clear of Election 2008's attempts to suck him in. He was being called a "domestic terrorist" and he was described as someone Obama was "palling around" with. But he saw no viable way to enter the discussion:
With the mainstream news media and the blogosphere caught in the pre-election excitement, I saw no viable path to a rational discussion. Rather than step clumsily into the sound-bite culture, I turned away whenever the microphones were thrust into my face. I sat it out.
Faced with a rhetorical infrastructure of speed, Ayers "sat it out." He saw no path to "rational discussion." I would not argue with Ayers on this one. I don't think there was a useful way for him to join the conversation. However, it raises some interesting questions: What are the ethical implications of sitting things out? If rational discussion is not an option, then how do we proceed? Do we attempt to slow down "sound-bite" culture, or do we develop new rhetorics?
I have no real answers to these questions, but they interest me. I'm hoping to address some of this in my 4C's presentation, but I'd be interested to hear others' thoughts. What other rhetorical options were available to Ayers?
Thanks to Matt for the link.