Let The Little Ones Argue

Friedersdorf interviews Mark Oppenheimer about religion reporting and his new book on debating. On the latter:

When I made it to junior high school, I discovered the debate team, and that really turned me around. Having a healthy, constructive way to channel my verbosity (and my budding adolescent anger) made a big difference in my life. It made me happier, for one thing. And the rest of the book takes off from there, as I immersed myself in the weird, wacky subculture of competitive debate and oratory....I really think we need competitive debate to start before high school. I was lucky to be at a junior high school with a debate program. But why is it that we have activities for 9-year-olds who love music, or math, or nature, but not 9-year-olds who love talking? And now that I am a dad of a talkative daughter, I can foresee wanting to send her someplace where she can argue with somebody other than me and her mom, you know? 

And the former:

The most common flaws in religion reporting are the same as common flaws in all reporting: lack of skepticism, taking the speakers' words for it. We always have to be skeptical, even of monks and priests and imams and rabbis. And we have to remember that power corrupts, so the people we are likely to revere may be the most likely to fail us.