Disagreement Vs Dissent In America Essay

1005 words - 4 pages

In the middle of the nineteenth century bloody battles broke out all over the United States, pitting brother against brother and father against son. The causes of this war were the issues of slavery and state’s rights; but most importantly, the catalyst for the Civil War was the tension in the air cause by the dissention of the South from the North. Dissention is a radically different concept than the idea of disagreement. Had the Northern and Southern states merely disagreed about slavery and states’ rights issues, the Civil War would only be a wisp of what could have been. Disagreement leads to arguments while dissent leads to quarrels, and the distinction Boorstin makes between the two is entirely accurate.

Dissent can be caused by a multitude of factors. One may dissent from the majority because their pride has been hurt, because communication broke down, or because they simply refuse to listen to any other view but their own. Dissention is dangerous because it is primarily a factor of pride, something that lies very close to the heart of any individual. There are times, however, when dissention may be caused by something else. When rhetorical communication breaks down, dissention can and will occur. Misunderstandings are delicate situations, and must be resolved accordingly. For instance, the Dallas City Commissioner John Wiley Price recently dissented from a citizen, telling the citizen and others in the court room to “go to hell!” The citizen Price had the altercation with addressed Price as “Chief Mullah” in an attempt to be a smart aleck. However, the citizen pronounced “mullah” (the name for an Islamic cardinal) as “moolah,” a highly offensive racial slur. Price does not tolerate racial slurs, and thus the screaming match occurred, displaying Price in a horrible light and possibly ruining his political career. The dissent, whether it be from pride or miscommunication, has alarming implications. Had Price merely disagreed with the citizen; he could have calmly informed the citizen he does not tolerate such language, or asked him to leave the court room. This was not the case. Price dissented with the citizen and placed himself in the minority by losing his composure. Had he not let his pride get in the way of his job, the quarrel Price created would have been avoided completely. And although the situation was a miscommunication, pride inevitably affected the outcome of the conflict. Had Price not been so prideful, the situation would have merely blown over: although still a breakdown in communication, it would not have caused a huge rift between Price and the public. The pride that caused this dissent is an infection that spreads rapidly to the brain – once it’s started, it cannot be stopped. A disagreement, however, is in no way infectious. When two persons have a disagreement, it is a differing in opinion that can be talked about calmly: there is no pride to blind them. The factor of pride is what makes dissent and disagreement ...

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