Doc Searles has a post, called the Radical Middle:
Can we talk? Depends on we mean by "we". Usually it's just other people who agree with us. That's apparently the case with subjects about which opinions divide into factions.
There, he's talking about political polarization, blogging, and open-source controversies.
Back in 2002, Mark Q. Rhoads said,
Americans deserve more civility in politics because the basic legitimacy of democratic government hinges upon our respect for one another even when, and especially when, we advocate opposing policies.
Over at Animal Crackers, Brian O'Connor has been talking about the tactic of "moving the middle" . It is two-step process initiated by extremists. First the extremists make demands, with which the moderates compromise (the first middle). Then the extremists up their demands -- thus making the moderate compromise seem extreme. (O'Connor's posts: August 2004; November 2005).
It seems to me that "moving the middle" is what has happened in a lot of popular culture. If it is acceptable for a young teen popstar to appear in raunch attire (the Britney effect, as Time called in in 2003), then surely a parent's call for restraint in dress is "extreme"-- Patricia Dalton's recent article brought a lot of comment to that effect. The suburbification of hip-hop and rap, hos and benjamins, surely moved the middle ground for acceptable dress and behavior. While it was widely reported that "slutwear is so last year" in the fall of 2004, you couldn't prove it by the look at the mall.
I wish there was some sort of secular, progressive movement in favor of...what? If I say "decency", the word itself is so freighted with conservative Christian overtones.
Family values? Ditto. My family values include a condemnation of divorce and a support for full marriage rights for same-sex couples. How about virtue? How about civility? (In 2002, Mark Q. Rhoads blamed direct mail for moving the middle)
How about The League for Appropriate Living? Dull.
Animal Rights and Moving the Middle: How AR activists do it.
....think of what scientists do with animals, and then how the AR people defined their own extreme position in opposition. [The speaker] imagined for us a continuum, with the AR people at one end, and the researchers at the other: the AR people wanted to abolish the use of animals in research altogether, the researchers didn't want that to happen. What about compromise? he asked.
Compromise sounds reasonable, right? Two sides disagree, so they negotiate until they reach a position somewhere in the middle.
That's fair - it's the 'merican way, after all. Right?
Well, no. Compromise is not always right.
The researchers' side is already a position of compromise, a reasonable middle ground. For the researchers' position to be a polar opposite to that of the AR people, it would have to embrace the proposition that researchers should have absolute, total free license to do anything they wished to any number of animals they wanted for any reason - or no reason - at all. Think about that ...
What the AR people do is to set up a situation in which they seek to balance their extreme position off against - not another extreme position - but a position that is already a compromise of what's best for a scientist's freedom, what's best for animals and what's necessary for biomedical research to progress in its quest for better diagnostic and therapeutic tools.