American Sauce: Getting specific on heated political speech
January 17th, 2011
01:33 PM ET
11 years ago

American Sauce: Getting specific on heated political speech

Washington (CNN) - More than a week after the Arizona shooting, senators and congressman are, at least slightly, changing how they talk about and interact with each other. The seating chart for the State of the Union address has become a nascent map for bipartisanship.

But what specifically have we learned about political discourse?

In this week's American Sauce, CNN's Lisa Desjardins profiles two individuals who wield razor-sharp words against one another in the fight over illegal immigration. And, looking big picture, she works with a professor who has devoted his career to studying extreme speech, asking him if there is any way to measure the tone today.

Click here to listen or keep reading.

Arizona State Professor Steve Corman studies speech that could incite violence, specializing in the words used by Islamic extremists. In society as a whole, he says there is no firm measure of anger or hatred in speech, but he sees clear evidence the tone, and concern about it, has shifted. Corman points to studies focused on the Internet, which imply that the Web breeds personal attacks and disdainful speech. In addition, Corman notes that four new centers have been established to study public discourse. But how does this affect unbalanced, potentially violent, individuals? Do higher levels of rage come naturally from difficult, tense issues? Or is it the level of sharp speech in general, the tone in society, that can incite violence?

Corman's answer: "It's more the manner in which debate is conducted than, I would say, the issues."

To hear more from Prof. Corman and to listen to our talk with two men who use sharp, angry words as part of their activism, click here.

You can also listen to American Sauce on iTunes or subscribe to the podcast via RSS.

Filed under: American Sauce • Congress • Immigration
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - John "The Weeper of the House" Boehner

    Nonsense! The problem is that one side of the political spectrum lies and misinforms the public. That party is the republican party. Who was the party talking about death panels? Then the republican party has a news network dedicated to spreading their lies and misinformation. Their dumb constituents are brainwashed and told to bear arms against their government(Tea Party). You have politicians such as Michelle Bachmann who says that "members of Congress should be investigated for anti-American views." You've got a TV personality by the name of Glen Beck who said "that he believes the President has a deep hatred for white people." Don't give me that BS that the hate rhetoric comes from both sides because it clearly doesn't!!!

    January 17, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Mclean

    Its good for both sides the debate will hopefully be conducted more respectfully but it won't continue for long. Also think how parliment in the UK is conducted in such an in your face way as an example of how it is handled in other countries. On a good note the US does transition power peacefully better than any other country.

    January 17, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Freedom of Speech in the USA

    Enough with the furtherance of the already overboard "political correctness" in this country. There is a First Amendment in this country and nobody should be censoring anybody elses words or speech. We have a criminal justice system to deal with violent people.

    But I do wonder about this. I haven't heard ANYBODY say the left should tone down their hate speech against business and "the rich". Why isn't their concern that some crazy lefty is going to turn violent against those people based on the hate speech from the left? Makes one wonder why this is being directed to one side of the political spectrum doesn' it? It is simple. Control your opponents speech and you control your opponent.

    January 17, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. The Other Michael in Houston

    The problem with mean spirited rhetoric is US sane people know how view that is bull**** talk, it's that crazy person sitting in his home looking for a reason to act out on his/her distorted views. So when Sarah and company do stupid things like put crosshairs on a website. their are some that take it literially. Now I will say this. all this talk about blaming Sarah, Rush and Hannity (OMG I cannot believe I am actually defending those 3) is flat out wrong. This guy committed a gruesome attack. But he is the one who pulled the trigger. So he is the only one to blame. So knowing you have mentally unstable people who may be listening to you Sarah, Rush and Hannity, you should pick your words wisely. There is a way of stating your position without telling your listeners to hurt a person.

    January 17, 2011 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  5. Patriots Salute the Flag! Traitors don't!!!

    To call illegal immigrants is an atrocity in itself. If these people can not come legally then there is by no means a free ride that our government seems so willing to give them. They might as well open up the penal institutions also for these people coming illegally or no better than the crooks we put in pens. Every since they came we have free schooled, free school supplied and free lunched them. WHY??? pLEASE ANSWER. wHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE dEMOCRATS WHICH i WAS ONE FOR FIFTY YEARAS BUT NO MORE WANT oBAMACARE. FOR MOST OF THEM WILL GET IT FOR FREE. wHO WILL PAY ALL THIS MONEY tHE gop AND tEA pARTIERS, THAT'S WHO. I am ticked off for I have read comments on social security & medicare as being too costly. SO YOU SEE THE IGNORANTS DON'T EVEN KNOW THAT THE PEOPLE ON SOCIAL SECURITY & MEWDICARE PAID FOR THEIR PENSIONS. WHY DO THEY NOT KNOW. WELL YOU MUST HOLD A STEADY JOB TO HAVE SOCIAL SECURITY WITHHELD THE SAME FOR MEDICARE. SINCE THEY HAVE NEVER DONE THIS THEY ARE UNDER THE BRAINWAVE OF THINKING THAT THE COST OF ONE RECEIVING PENSIONS COMES FROM TAX DOLLARS AND THEREFORE HAVE TO BE FIGURED IN THE BUDGET. THAT PART IS RIGHT FOR SOME DIMWITTED PRESIDENT NAMED JOHNSON DEMOCRAT AUTHORIZED THE GOVERNMENT TO DIP INTO SOCIAL SECURITY STEALING THE PEOPLE'S RETIREMENT MONEY TO PAY FOR THE VIETNAM WAR. HAVE A GREAT ADULTER MLK DAY.

    January 17, 2011 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  6. Douglas Phelan

    I like the Terms of Service. I hope this catches on!

    January 17, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  7. GOP Taliban Victim

    Immigration Reform and Illegal Immigration are wedge issues that are losers. You can't win any points on this because nobody really supports it except for lobbyists that benefit from cheap endless pool of labor and a small number special interest groups. The GOP is using this to fire-up their base. The Dem's need to get the memo that is not popular among the even the majority of Dem's. Seal the border...enforce the existing law. Done.

    January 17, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |