How Public Discourse Sounded In 1965

(HT: Pundit Press)

Warning: This debate occurred in 1965. James Baldwin uses an objectionable word that was more freely used then to describe American Blacks, which is forbidden today.

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6 comments

  1. Listened to the whole thing, very interesting.

    A book I can recommend in this regard is John McWhorter’s Doing Our Own Thing (which can be had for pennies used from Amazon — it must be a common college textbook). McWhorter’s focus in this book is on (a) the distinction between formal (written/speechified) and informal (conversational) language, and (b) our culture’s shrinking ability — and even contempt — for formal language. (McWhorter is not concerned with issues of race, I’m just referring to how 50 years ago the ‘level of public discourse’ 50 years ago used much more sophisticated language than we hear today)

  2. James Baldwin is a captivating speaker.

    “The American soil is full of the corpses of my ancestors.” – J. Baldwin

    • Leon, absolutely he is; and Buckley wasn’t too shabby himself–would that I had his gift of extemporaneous speaking. It’s also a commentary on our sad state of affairs that listening to talks such as this one would be an utter turn-off for anyone today.

  3. To be fair, though I’ve never attended one, the Union Societies at Oxford, Cambridge, Durham etc still hold debates in largely this format on a weekly basis in termtime. It’s just noone televises them.

  4. Dr. Thomas Sowell, Economist and Fellow at the Hoover Institute has written several books on this subject.

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