A dozen other articles will be titled "Al Gore's Assault on Reason", so I opted for the old stand-by: an "Al Gore invented the Internet" joke. Interestingly, in the book excerpt published by Time, Al Gore barely even mentions the Internet until near the end. He pulls a mildly clever bait and switch in order to propose a complete government take-over of the Internet.
I encourage you to read the entire chapter. It's interesting to observe the mind of a huckster and dimestore philosopher with the aspirations of a dictator. Gore has already been fighting a war on industrial civilization. He's now opening up a new front against free speech. As can be expected from an aspiring dictator, his war against free speech will be fought under its exact opposite premise. He wants to control speech in order to keep it free.
Let's start looking at the chapter by observing the way he slithers his way into a point. What struck me was the fifth paragraph, when he writes:
"...for the first time in American history, the Executive Branch of our government has not only condoned but actively promoted the treatment of captives in wartime that clearly involves torture, thus overturning a prohibition established by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War."
Gore makes no attempt to explain or defend this comment. He states it as if it's a self-evident truth. This leads to only one conclusion: he is preaching to his choir. Why preach to the choir? To build up his emotional case. This is a tried and true technique of laying down a series of emotional, unproven but previously accepted beliefs, then quietly dropping the bomb. The goal is that no one will realize it's a bomb, because the drooling bastards are so goddamn exhausted from nodding their heads.
Let's jump immediately, as Al Gore does in the very next paragraph, to his definition of "reason".
"Faith in the power of reasonthe belief that free citizens can govern themselves wisely and fairly by resorting to logical debate on the basis of the best evidence available, instead of raw powerremains the central premise of American democracy."
As corrupt a formulation of reason as this is, it also has the added benefit of being pitifully sloppy. According to Gore, "reason" (or at least "the power of reason") entails "debate" between citizens. But Gore goes beyond that. I don't think it is a coincidence that he includes a concept like governance in his package-deal definition. Reason itself, as formulated by Gore, is both a thought process and an action of a group. Tell that to a halfway respectable neurologist. Or the guy who invented fire.
It's worth emphasizing: Al Gore defines reason as an attribute of the group, not of the individual. Let that sink in.