ERIC Number: ED339070
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Feb
Reference Count: 0
Fueling a Crisis: Public Argument and the 1988 Yellowstone Fire Debate.
Hardy-Short, Dayle; Short, C. Brant
Debate surrounding the 1988 Yellowstone National Park fires provides material for a case study into the relationship between a crisis and public argument. Studies like this reflect the importance of a recent trend in higher education, namely, the analysis of environmental issues from different academic perspectives. In this case, analysis of regional and national newspapers during the fire period suggests that crisis can affect argument by: (1) becoming synergistic, fueling itself and expanding at a dramatic pace; (2) shattering apparent consensus and reinvigorating submerged levels of dissent; and (3) altering accepted standards of reasoning that had been collectively agreed upon prior to the crisis. Debate over the government's handling of the fires began with documentation of a crisis situation; the second stage involved attempts to manage public perception of the crisis; and the third stage involved public discussion of the policy used to manage the crisis. Public policy makers were able to replace appeals to the archetypal metaphor of death with the metaphor of rebirth. Acceptance of the latter created a picture of reality which allowed preservation of the "let burn" policy of the United States Forest Service amid criticism of that approach to the crisis. (SG)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Government Citizen Relationship; Yellowstone National Park
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Speech Communication Association (Sacramento, CA, February 16-20, 1990).