Read through a the transcript of a videotaped interview I gave to Reason Magazine, the libertarian periodical, that is timed for the release of Treme’s third season. My comments seemed disjointed, unsupported. Arguments begin and cease abruptly, unaccompanied by any supporting logic or examples. The interviewer’s comments are highlighted as punctuation, but many fundamental ideas and contentions never progress far at all.
I emailed those guys, asked them if I could listen to the whole interview. They kindly agreed.
Sure enough, the editing is, at points, inattentive to the task of building on or even completing a complicated argument. I begin with an assertion — that Wall Street undid the newspaper industry, or that government is the only viable agent for the maintenance of prisons, and then all or most of the reasons for making such an argument are gone from the edited interview. Seems I spoke with this crew for about an hour and twenty minutes. An hour or so of that is missing from the edited version.
Not that the full interview is worth anyone’s time. Unedited interviews seldom are. But rare are the occasions when I’ve come through such a process and found it so hard to convey anything more than simple, unsupported assertions before the interviewer interposes or the subject changes, either in real time or through later redaction. It’s just a mess. Looking at the comments on Reason.com, a number of those who read or viewed the interview thought my comments were notably fractured, if not incoherent. I quite agree.
If you are interested in any of the issues that are broached in this piece, there are other interviews, essays and public appearances on this website that provide cogent and more complete arguments on the subjects. Specifically, the Senate testimony on the future of newspapers makes clear my contentions about what befell that industry as the Reason interview never does. The venality that underlies the privatization of the prison industry is more fully addressed in the UNC lecture that has a video link, and elsewhere as well.
I’m not going to suggest that the evisceration of my answers resulted from my antipathy to certain libertarian arguments, or even a conscious effort to prevent an opposing argument to fully form. I think it’s just an edit by folks who found more favor in banter and quick riposte than in actually surrounding stuff. Nonetheless, to anyone who watches it expecting me to keep the train of thought on the tracks, I’ll apologize in advance. Again, the full interview has much fat that is deservedly cut down and the tangle of interjections by Mr. Gillespie and my own asides in response didn’t make for the most directed encounter. I am as guilty as anyone for some what resulted, and I can see why an editor was challenged. But lost in the edit that ensued is a good bit of connective tissue that could, at points, make portions of the exercise sensical, I think.
To Reason readers who are convinced that I stand clueless before the all-encompassing logic of the libertarian ideal, I can only say that perhaps in a better and more coherent venue, some deeper exchange will ensue. I am as willing to take a kick in the ass as to deliver one, of course, depending on the merits. But it’s always better if that ass is my own familiar flesh rather than some straw-filled substitute. Again, I claim nothing sinister on the magazine’s part; they would not have given me the whole interview to review if they had shanked it for ideological reasons; but shank it they did, in my opinion.
As I often have said, I value argument for its own sake, as well as divergent views in a discussion. So, here, listening to so many issues stutter-step without going forward to any corroborative detail or to any sustained elaboration or debate, I’m reminded of the late, great Christopher Hitchens, who once attempted to make a modestly complicated argument to an interviewer ideologically opposed to that stance. As the Fox commentator’s questions became longer and as Mr. Hitchen’s answers were more frequently interrupted, he finally managed the following:
“You must have me on your show again so you can tell me more of what you think…”
He then attempted to elaborate on the point he had previously raised, but was, of course, interrupted.