9.26.16: Cicero on the Election, The Celebrity Ambassador, & Recruiting Female Officers

Sep 26, 2016

Some 2000 years ago, Roman philosopher and acclaimed public speaker Cicero outlined the ideal orator: a gentle speaker who uses logic, character, and emotion to persuade an audience.  So what would Cicero think of tonight's debaters: Clinton and Trump? Today, 2016 rhetoric through the eyes of an ancient.

Plus, some police departments respond to charges of racially motivated killings by recruiting more minority officers...except for one demographic that could make a measurable difference: women.

Listen to the full show. 

Cicero on the 2016 Election

Some 2000 years ago, a Roman philosopher and politician laid out the qualities of what he thought to be the ideal orator: “a gentle tone of voice”, he said, as well as signs of generosity, gratitude, and of not being desirous or greedy”.  

So what would Cicero - renowned as one of the greatest public speakers of all time - think of these two presidential candidates, neither of whom are known for their gentle voices or soaring oratory? And how would he advise them, respectively, as they face off in the first presidential debate, to persuade voters that they are most qualified to hold the oval office?

James May is professor of Classics at St. Olaf College.  His new book of translated selections from Cicero’s writings is called How to Win an Argument: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Persuasion.

The Celebrity Ambassador

Rufus Gifford is clean cut, likes to kayak, has silver hair at his temples, a bright smile, and as far as we know, the only US Ambassador to be the subject of a foreign reality TV show.  

In English the show would be called "I Am the Ambassador From America". It's a huge hit in Denmark and just made its debut Netflix this fall. Gifford is a rare example of a US diplomat who is not only well known - but beloved by the country in which he's stationed.  Amy Weiss-Meyer is assistant editor at The Atlantic – that’s where she wrote about Rufus Gifford's unusual celebrity status. 

Related: Big in Denmark: the US Ambassador

Bombs, Birds, & Butterflies

Hundreds of threatened plants and animals are being protected by an unlikely guardian. The United States military has joined forces with environmental groups to preserve habitats used by a variety of birds, butterflies, tortoises, and other wildlife. Ironically, by keeping them in the line of fire. Jay Price has this story from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

Recruiting Female Police Officers

On April 12, 2015 Baltimore police arrested 25-year old Freddie Gray. While in police custody, Gray suffered three broken vertebrae and an 80% severance of his spinal cord. He fell into a coma and died a week later. Riots soon followed.

With Baltimore's long history of civil right abuses and a high profile case, the Department of Justice called for an investigation into local police practices. Over one year, and 163 pages later, the results were scathing; and practices overwhelmingly affected the city's black residents in low-income neighborhoods. But as Christina Asquith pointed out, there was another population egregiously underserved: women.

Christina is the director of Across Women's Lives and founder of the Fuller Project for International Reporting, and wrote Why Aren't Police Departments Recruiting More Women? for The Atlantic.

Rebar and the Alvord Lake Bridge

Infrastructure...the roads and bridges and power lines we depend upon is practically invisible. We don't tend to think about them until they fail.  And yet, underneath and inside these essential, sort of boring building blocks of contemporary civilization, is an even less visible inner layer - the infrastructure of infrastructure.  This story, from Roman Mars of 99% Invisible is about one of those layers that, when it's working properly, stays invisible: rebar.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org