King Solomon is reputed to have once said, “even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

We wish the Australian comedian Jim Jefferies had embraced this advice before appearing on Real Time With Bill Maher.

In a particularly heated segment, TV personality Piers Morgan tried to explain why a Muslim ban doesn’t currently exist in the United States. Jefferies promptly told Morgan to f**k off, and continued to swear and get hysterical for the rest of the segment.

Jeffries is receiving many accolades on Twitter from celebrities praising his stance, including the author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling.

Yet the incident is unfortunate because in the current climate of fake news, we need rational discussion from public figures now more than ever.

We’re being let down, and social media is supporting a culture of shouting rather than genuine intellectual inquiry.

What actually happened?

Here’s the rest of the exchange, with the video below.

JJ: “Oh f**k off. It’s a f***ing Muslim ban. He said there was a Muslim ban. There’s a Muslim ban.”

PM: “This is the hysteria I’m talking about. 85% of the world is Muslim, they’re allowed into the country.”

JJ: “This is what you do Piers – you say, ‘He hasn’t done this, he hasn’t done that, he’s not going to do all these things’. Give him a f***ing chance mate. Hitler didn’t kill the Jews on the first day. He worked up to it.”PM: “That is the exact ridiculous, hysterical, over the top nonsense that is making people like you look ridiculous.”

JJ: “If people got hysterical in Germany right away…”

PM: “He’s not he new Hitler.”

That’s when Maher makes this face.

JJ: “You just like that you won The Apprentice and you have a famous friend, mate. That’s all you f***king like.”

PM: “You’re losing your audience because you’re sounding unpleasant…”

That’s when Jefferies interrupts and gives him the finger.

Here’s the exchange in video.

The response on Twitter

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, has weighed in on the exchange on Twitter, also getting hysterical and resorting to name calling.

Morgan refused to take this lying down, responding to the Harry Potter author saying that’s why he’s never read a word of her globally-successful book series – but Rowling had the comebacks lined up.

A disturbing trend in the public sphere

Even if you disagree with the recent travel ban in the United States, it’s important to understand the alternative perspective if you are to have any impact on policy with activism.

This means engaging in rational discussion based on the facts.

As soon as Morgan tried to have a conversation about the actual travel ban, Jefferies simply continued to swear and get hysterical.

It’s unfortunate because it turns out that Morgan is against the travel ban. It would have made for a productive and enlightening discussion to find out why.

This is part of a disturbing trend in the public sphere. There are already low levels of trust in traditional media and a surge in the production of fake news stories.

Pew Research Center analysis in July 2016 showed that few people have confidence in the information they get from professional news outlets, though social media got substantially lower trust scores.

At the same time, more people are frustrated with the current direction of public policy and want to make a change.

To make a productive change in society, we need to know the facts. We need more media committed to rational inquiry and which promotes independent thinking.

Unfortunately, Jefferies and Rowling are part of a trend of making arguments based on emotion and name calling rather than critical inquiry.

Ideas matter, and it’s important that ideas are expressed with a commitment to dialogue, reason and understanding.