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Before the Shooting Begins

Before the Shooting Begins [Kindle Edition]

James Davidson Hunter

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Product Description

Product Description

Addressing America's cultural conflict about such issues as abortion, homosexuality, and family values, the author presents a plan in which America can achieve a renewed democracy, despite these differences.


Addressing America's cultural conflict about such issues as abortion, homosexuality, and family values, the author presents a plan in which America can achieve a renewed democracy, despite these differences.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 839 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (28 Mar 1994)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still timely 31 May 2013
By Doug Erlandson - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Even though it was written nearly 20 years ago, "Before the Shooting Begins" by James Davison Hunter is an important book for today. Focusing on the abortion debate as a microcosm of the way in which issues divide Americans into separate camps, Hunter attempts to get at the root of why it is that those on both sides of the divide seemingly "talk past" each other. Hunter's main thesis is well summed up in a statement found on page 148: "Without a base of knowledge about the law, without traditions of moral understanding to draw upon, and without cohesive moral communities within whose values, norms, and ideals our lives are patterned, all we have left are our emotions. Public debate among citizens becomes an exercise in emoting toward one another."

What Hunter says rings true. Whether we are talking about abortion, or, to take more recent examples, immigration and healthcare, we are a nation that no longer shares a common worldview. Thus, the conclusions we reach on a variety of issues are going to be derived from a set of presuppositions that are self-evident to us but are not shared by those with whom we are dialoguing. As a result, our arguments will have little impact on them and theirs will seem implausible to us. We will continue to simply talk past each other. In a situation such as this, the easiest thing to do is to vilify and impugn the motives of our opponents. One need but listen to the many opinion shows on television to see that such vilification and misrepresentation has taken the place of serious debate.

In light of the fact that the situation has not gotten better since Hunter wrote this book but has only gotten worse, Hunter's book is certainly worthy of consideration today.
6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Over-hopeful conclusion; stunning research! 18 Nov 2003
By Kevin Currie-Knight - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
FACT: Not many people really care about the abortion issue anymore. FACT: Not many people ever really did. FACT: Speicial insterest and lobbying groups, not regular people, are the ones who 'take sides' and push the abortion debate. FACT: The regular person, when polled, is smack-dab in the middle of the two "sides".
So Congress just passed a bill banning partial birth abortions, hailing it as a big victory...despite the fact that less than 1 percent of abortions are late term. Why, if congress has so much else to do that affects so many more people, did they spend so much time, money, and emotion on this piddley bill? REad this book to find out.
Here is the irony. Abortion is one of the most polarized issues we've ever faced as a nation. BUT, the average person is overwhelmingly ambivalent about it. No one is completely pro-life; no one is completely pro-choice - except the lobby groups who have everything to gain from demonizing the opposition, scaring the citizenry by exaggerating problems (this is how the later-tem abortion bill got so much attention; and remember the Bork Supreme Court nominations?).
Anyway, this book is very neutral to each side and is premised on the idea that how the abortion debates have been conducted is more a symptom of a declining deliberative democracy than it is about lack of moral resources. The conclusions above are well borne out in this book and the author is rightly befuddled over how any of this actually happened.
Good book for all political science or ethics students. The abortion debate is used as a micro-cosm, pointing at larger problems prevelant in how we conduct political "debate" (read; No Spin Zone) and how the average citizen thinks (or doesn't) on the issues affecting us.
5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening and thought-provoking. 23 Jun 1999
By - Published on
Hunter's book lives up to the publisher's blurb. If you have any interest whatsoever in the world outside your front door, read it. This is information you need.
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