Stephen Colbert Teaches Us About Debating with the Right Tone

I enjoy the majority of Stephen Colbert’s comedy (even as I disagree with much of his political leanings), and I will stay up and watch his opening monologue and opening comments regarding political issues. Both sides of the presidential race offer plenty of fodder for Colbert to use.

Yet, my respect level for Colbert increased exponentially during his interview with Ted Cruz. I’m well in bed by the time he gets to the guest interviews (10:45 pm MT is as far as I can go anymore), so I catch up with them on my lunch break on YouTube.

Below is an exchange regarding why Republicans often invoke Ronald Reagan (Republican president from 1981-1989) when Reagan raised taxes at one point, as well as advocated an amnesty program for illegal immigrants while president. Clearly, the audience was on Colbert’s side, or at least understood his points.

When the topic of gay marriage came up, Cruz began to explain his position constitutionally regarding the Supreme Court ruling of June 28, 2015. The audience began to boo him. Watch Colbert’s reaction to this at around the 3:59 mark:

Did you see how he responded? “This is my guest–please don’t boo him!” He emulated respect for the opposition, a tone that is necessary but often missing in the civil (or should I say, uncivil) discourse of our day. This even separates him from his mentor, Jon Stewart–but that’s another story for another day.

Leaders, you will have people who disagree with you, or will have people in your church that disagree with each other. It’s up to us to set a tone of respect and gentleness (see 1 Peter 3:15-17) when not only presenting our side, but listening to another side.

From what other late night show could you glean that lesson?


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