An unlimited license to condescend?

The topics of today’s students and Internet access (and the current roll-out of laptop computers to all students in Year 9) and its effect on literacy, are being hotly debated again on the various education listservs, and it was reminding me of a previous argument in the public arena in the 60s and 70s, and I just happened upon a quote that might put some of the current issues into perspective.

From Saturday morning fever: growing up with a cartoon culture by Timothy Burke & Kevin Burke (St Martin’s Griffin, NY: 1999, p 200):

“Whether it was [Spiro] Agnew or [Bob ‘Captain Kangaroo’] Keeshan, or some other untrustworthy person over thirty, the basic message was the same in the late sixties and early seventies: Blame television and you get an unlimited license to condescend. Then you don’t have to explain exactly why it was bad that kids were in the streets protesting against war or why exactly dropping out and turning on was a terrible thing. The wheel keeps on turning: in the mid-seventies television got blamed for making you passive, and then once again in the eighties, it was creating violence. It’s the excuse that keeps on giving. Amazing thing, television: it can make you passive and aggressive at the same time. If you don’t like whatever it is that young people are doing, it must be television that’s to blame.”

Sounds familiar?

Roll on the paradigm shift.