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Distrust and Incivility in Politics: Monday’s Show (August 24, 2015)

Egged on by the echo chambers of social media, cable news, and commercial talk radio, some Houstonians regularly perceive authority figures as threats to their personal freedom. They doubt law enforcement, statesmen, doctors – once-respected figures – by default. Consider this recent example: When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed Senate Bill 359, which granted Texas […]

Egged on by the echo chambers of social media, cable news, and commercial talk radio, some Houstonians regularly perceive authority figures as threats to their personal freedom. They doubt law enforcement, statesmen, doctors – once-respected figures – by default. Consider this recent example: When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed Senate Bill 359, which granted Texas ER doctors power to temporarily detain mentally ill patients they perceive to be an imminent threat, it came as a shock to the bill's supporters and many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The bill was supported by mental health experts, medical groups, and law enforcement, and received little debate or opposition. Turns out, the Governor was heavily lobbied by a coalition opposing the bill, made up of an anti-psychiatry group, an anti-vaccine group, a group opposing water fluoridation, and others. What did these groups have in common? Distrust of government, and an intense desire to defend individual liberties. And they were apparently persuasive.

What's behind such distrust today? How does it play into public policy debates? We talk it over on today’s Houston Matters.

Then, we discuss our lack of civility in politics. We expect heightened rhetoric in an election year, but how far should that go? Again, social media, cable news, and commercial talk radio play a role but do they exacerbate incivility in our politics, or merely reflect it? And is this really new, or have we always debated and spoken this way?

Also this hour: In 2011, John Kuhn, Superintendent of the Perrin-Whitt Consolidated School District, wrote an open letter to Texas legislators. He compared the looming budget cuts in public schools to the battle at The Alamo. Kuhn, who recently visited the University of Houston's College of Education to speak to future educators, tells Houston Matters' Maggie Martin about the famous “Alamo Letter” and what changes he wants to see in education in Texas.

Plus: We talk with the Houston Chronicle’s Brian Smith about HBO’s sports documentary series, Hard Knocks, which features the Houston Texans this season.

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Craig Cohen

Craig Cohen

Executive Producer/Host, Houston Matters

Craig Cohen is the executive producer and host of Houston Matters, which airs weekday mornings at 9:00 on Houston Public Media, News 88.7 FM. Craig is a 20+ year veteran of broadcast journalism. He's spent the bulk of his career in public media, in roles ranging from programmer and manager,...

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