Learning civil discourse from William F. Buckley and my dad

As I said in the accompanying post, watching Firing Line at my father’s knee from early childhood taught me the value and the efficacy of civil debate, no matter how contentious the issue. I disagreed with him some then, do so much more now, but I’ve always admired his approach. Here are a few examples of Buckley’s conversations through the decades:

A remarkable 1969 Firing Line debate between William F. Buckley and Noam Chomsky on the global military role of America, specifically the appropriateness of intervention
Part 1

Part 2

Allen Ginsberg and William F. Buckley on Firing Line in 1968
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rj17WbJ1k7k

On Charlie Rose, talking about Ayn Rand in 2003

Arguing for drug legalization against Charlie Rangel in 1991

In 1996, William F. Buckley talks through drug legalization for a half hour as a guest on one of the few other shows with civil thoughtful discussion on public policy, Richard Heffner’s The Open Mind (which is still running.)
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Hugh Hefner and William F. Buckley discuss the sexual revolution and the Playboy philosophy
Part 1

Part 2

Return to the accompanying post.


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  • 95Theses

    Though I only just happened upon this today, I felt I compelled to thank you for such a moving tribute. William F. Buckley, Jr. was – from my mid-20s until the day he died – the man I admired most in America. He lived a life that only a handful of people could ever dream of having, let alone compare. Raised in an exclusively Spanish speaking household (he spoke not a word of English until he was 6); being groomed from a very early age to engage and debate a wide spectrum of subjects … at the dinner table … with his parents and siblings. He possessed an intellect! that was enviable. Oh, and what a gifted mind … charm, wit, generosity all combined with a friendly sort of sarcasm. He had achieved so much in his life’s work. True, he had a great head start over most other children of his generation. But not an ounce of it went to waste.

    I wept bittersweet tears the morning I learned he died. I had always wanted to meet the man in person, but that appointment has been rescheduled for the next life. Bill truly was a National Treasure, and though many may try – very, very few people could ever fill his shoes.