It's certainly no great fun to learn horrible things about people one admires.
Ted Mooney's 1981 novel Easy Travel to Other Places introduces the idea of "information sickness," whereby the collection of information only leads to an increased need for more information, and this process -- somewhat like an intenstinal worm -- leaves us hungry and sick.
And cultural critic Neil Postman pointed out that there was a higher rate of literacy in the 19th century than there is now(*), and that this by no coincidence coincided with the golden age of American newspapers and with public debate (ala the Lincoln-Douglass debates circa 1860). (* This does not include Al's idea of "aliteracy," whereby people know how to read but avoid it at all costs. I imagine, given continually declining book sales and newspaper subscriptions and libary membership, that most people are now aliterate or perhaps exclusively "e-literate.")
Anywhoodles, Postman argues that debate creates urgency and allows for the purposing of information and the establishment of meaning, and that good debate creates this in a clear and honest way. Most information, after all, contains an argument -- note the difference between saying, for example, "The country is under attack" versus "Several planes have hit buildings of fiscal or governmental significance."
So if I can match these ideas to the links in the first sentence above, I guess I want to generate meaning from debate by asking:
What does it mean when American's Greatest Playwright is -- at best -- an even worse parent than those in his plays?
What does it signify when the young hip handsome rich and famous actor can still feel despair?
Why do the closet cases always turn out to be rightie politicians, and can't we extrapolate from that either the nature of or the result of the prevailing conservative attitudes towards homosexuality?
(Along with the above, we were also asked this week to consider Mother Theresa as a supposed agnostic and Frank McCourt as a lousy teacher. Is it Slaughter Your Heroes week or what?)