About the Second Edition//

Discourse - speech and debate that resonate with reason and purpose toward a greater social end - is overshadowed by much of the mass communication we see and hear today. 

America's system of free expression was theoretically designed to protect discourse vital to the intelligent consideration of ideas.  The First Amendment aimed to guarantee political debate and dissent that promote democracy, inform citizens, and enrich self-realization.   

The free speech we practice, however, is not the elevated discourse we celebrate.  Our First Amendment culture has spawned the proliferation of superficial "sound-bite" television, consumer-friendly advertising, and libido-gratifying pornography.  Put simply, our carnival culture is far removed from the world of deliberative discourse as it was envisioned. 

What has become of the Madisonian experiment in First Amendment freedom?  Does protection of our mass commercial entertainment culture suggest new purposes for our free speech liberties?  Is the marketplace of ideas tethered to the marketplace of items?  Have the ideals of discourse yielded to the ideology of diversion?  Do we safeguard speech solely for speech's sake? 

These questions - and more - are the focus of The Death of Discourse

With satirical spirit and wit, the narrative of this lively study liberally peppers its more sober analysis with side-splitting, or even shocking, anecdotal evidence.  Indeed, the book calls upon many of the "tricks" it criticizes.  Its text presents amusing tales, TV zaps, eye-bites, and aphoristic banners that cross between high and low culture - Plato and Geraldo, Madonna and Mahler - to make its points.

The second edition preserves the first edition's mind-boggling and mirthful stories of America's mass media exploits.  A new Foreword examines recent events - for example, the American mass commercial entertainment culture after September 11th - and a new and lengthy Afterword offers a "dialogue" with the book's readers and critics.