Well, here it is:
1. Read articles.
2. Discuss articles.
3. Brainstorm questions using Google Docs. This was radically generative (1 of 3 pages showing).
4. Narrow questions down based on the following criteria:
5. Refine questions in groups over the intervening week.
Here are the questions that we generated for our first interviewee, Dr. Roderick Hart, based on his article “Community by Negation—An Agenda for Rhetorical Inquiry,” in ed. Michael Hogan, Rhetoric and Community: Studies in Unity and Fragmentation (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1998): xxv-xxxviii.
Can you talk about the relationship between hate and extremism? Does the inevitability of hate breed extremism, or does extremism breed hate? Is it possible to have political rhetoric that is not hate rhetoric?
To what extent are politicians and the organizers of hate conscious of their actions? That is, when politicians substitute hate for good policy, is it done strategically or does the shift occur naturally? When politicians are inspired by hate, do they see extreme positions as extreme?
Has the role of hate in American political discourse grown or changed since you wrote “Community by Negation” in 1998? What campaigning strategies are being used in 2012 to create the illusion of an enemy? Are there structural factors in American political institutions, like the Electoral College or gerrymandered districts, which fuel the politics of hate?
Although you argued that hate is inevitable, surely there are varying intensities of hate. Is moderation an antidote to hateful political rhetoric? If so, how can we encourage moderation; and if not, is there anything that might be done to soften hateful political rhetoric?
You suggested that television fueled hate by putting a face to cause. How has the internet impacted hate? The internet has enabled many to express their opinions anonymously. Do you think that this anonymity has increased hateful language use? Are there other features of the internet that facilitate hateful rhetoric?