RCL: Public Controversies

Public, according to Dictionary.com means “of, pertaining to, or affecting a population or a community as a whole”. Therefore, something is public when the population in a community is given an opportunity to know about an occurrence, such as through the news, the newspaper, and through the community grapevine. A community, though, must have restrictions. News through a community of say, Chinese families, wouldn’t be public; instead, I think public is a function of geography. The people of State College for example, or the citizens of Manhattan, all of which are public communities that are bounded by where people live. And if we want to expand this concept of public to the whole United States, China, France, or any other country all over the world, that would be an internationally public issue. An issue is something “in which we define as the point about which all parties to an argument can agree that they disagree” according to our RCL textbook, it’s a point of statis. A controversy, according to Dictionary.com means “a prolonged public dispute, debate, or contention;disputation concerning a matter of opinion”. A controversy is a public issue. An issue is public if it can spur up argument and dissenting views among a public community. For example, in issue that is public in America is the legality of marijuana. There is a group who is for it and a group who is against it and they are arguing their own opinions to get their voice heard. Those groups agree that they don’t agree and thus continue debating and discussing the issue, the point of statis. Therefore, to tell if something is public is to see whether the issue is relative to others within a community bounded by geography. There is a blur between how big a certain geographical area is to be considered public, and for me, I think the public is large enough if it has its own rules and regulations that apply to that group. An issue is something that people argue over. It’s created through groups that hold a certain opinion of something, a commonplace in there small group, that clashes with the commonplaces of another. I also think that the issue being argues is only truly controversial if it has big implications and effects on a part of a community, a big enough effect that would call for some form of action!

This entry was posted in RCL and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to RCL: Public Controversies

  1. Roshan Promisel says:

    This post is really good! I think it definitely relates to what our topic is. “Drinking Age” is a public controversy because it is not only a controversy in our community at Penn State but also across the United States. It’s even expanded around the world as other countries’ laws are used as examples to change the age in the United States. For example, the Netherlands has a drinking age of 16 for beer and 18 for hard liquor where the United States is still 21 for everything. Having other countries use lower ages in their laws is what influences the minds of Americans. Makes them think they are more rebellious when underage drinking. I think that what you have talked about in your post is definitely relevant to our topic!

  2. Shannon Wagner says:

    I totally agree that a “public” can be defined differently; however, the most relevant definition is usually geographic. For us especially, this public geography is not necessarily just the Penn State students’ circle of residence, but also the families that live here in State College whom it affects. Most interesting to me though is that you say a controversial issue has big enough of an effect that it spurs some sort of action; I’d like to disagree and say that controversial issues tend to be extra stagnant and often lack processes towards a solution because both sides are so polarized! These issues are so controversial that people don’t even seem to have the capacity to compromise and collaborate–here is where I think the issue of stasis comes in. AH. CONFLICT.

  3. Matt Swatski says:

    I agree completely with your definition of public issues, especially how you define public with geographical boundaries. I would argue that a public issue transcends race, religion, age, political belief, but not neccessarily location. For example, everybody at Penn State has been affected by the drinking age laws. The entire community probably has strong opinions on the topic. This leads to why it is controversial, because there are two extremes and a fuzzy middle. Since this issue also affects the families who live in the State College area because of the amount of drinking that occurs during the year at Penn State, this would not just be relegated to students our age. Also, if the drinking age was changed at Penn State this may or may not have an affect on the community, and that should be considered in our project. We will have a lot of controversy to deal with.

Leave a Reply