Choose Civility; It Could Save Lives   12 comments

Every so often, I get a nasty-gram on my blog or email and it happened last night. Apparently, “right-wingers” like me are the reason men in their 60s open fire in a park and if we’d just shut up about “your hateful ideas”, the world would be a safer place. The rest of the blog comment contains quite a few words that aren’t allowed on broadcast airwaves, so … yeah, no publicity for you, dude.

Image result for image of civilityBut here’s the thing … I wasn’t exactly feeling the love from this guy. He spent about two sentences on the ideas he doesn’t approve of and a few thousand words on what he thinks of my character, my parents (who have been dead in excess of 30 years, so I’m not sure what they have to do with anything) and the degenerate moral atmosphere of Alaska, Republicans and libertarians. He even spent five sentences on Ron Paul and several sentences on Donald Trump.

So, while I won’t publish the comment, I did forward it to an ultra-liberal social worker friend of mine who has been arguing with me “across the divide” for some years and asked her what she thought.

One, she thinks the shooting in Alexandria wouldn’t have occurred if the country’s “right-wingers” would embrace PC. Just accept whatever the Huffington Post says is moral and don’t sweat it and the world will be a safer place. Actually, that’s second sentence is my interpretation of her carefully worded reply to me, but when I floated it as an interpretation, she replied “LOL. Basically.”

 

PC is often used as a strawman by people who value free speech. It tends to unhinge those who value political correctness. It’s like sticking a burr under a horse’s saddle to make it buck for the rodeo. Why? Because the PC crowd thinks they’re just being polite.

But there’s a difference between civility and political correctness. Let me provide you with an example.

Lela doesn’t like racist humor because it offends others and she isn’t a jerk. That’s civility. Lela is polite.

Kelli doesn’t like racist humor because she believes certain social attitudes contribute to strengthening systemic bigotry within power structures and subconsciously influence us to commit acts of violence. Kelli believes that when Bible-believing Christians question modern gender theory, “misgender” somebody or commit some similar “microaggession,” we contribute to a culture that marginalizes non-gender-conforming people, thus increasing the high suicide rate in that demographic.

There’s a part of me that could almost be convinced by Kelli’s argument until I apply those same assumptions to any other group. Veterans and soldiers have a very high suicide rate, but we still criticize US foreign policy and military action. We even burn flags, which tends to upset veterans and soldiers.

Young men have a high suicide rate, but male-bashing is not considered a hate crime. Christians don’t have a high suicide rate, but not because they’re not marginalized. Turn into The Detour and you’ll see us routinely bashed, mischaracterized, and denigrated. We can do the same mental gymnastics for many other groups, but the fact remains that we treat people in these other groups as if their feelings don’t matter, so clearly the motivations for being PC different from those for civility.

I don’t want to upset or alienate anyone, so I monitor my language. Alternatively, Kelli believes improper uses of language is equivalent to physical violence.

I’m polite. Kelli is PC. I’m a nice person. Kelli is an ideologue. Kelli doesn’t see a difference between us (so long as I keep my mouth shut). But here’s where we part company. I reserve the right to question authority and new social arrangements, to point out when the emperor is not wearing clothes. That is the essence of free speech … to be able to talk about ideas without attacking each other’s character or taking offense that someone disagrees with us. Kelli believes it’s all right to state your opinion so long as your opinion aligns with political correctness. If it doesn’t, you should remain silent in society and probably go to a counselor for reprogramming.

She would label what used to be ordinary discussion as physical violence, but that standard is unevenly applied across society. Some people’s feelings and beliefs are more important than other people’s feelings and beliefs, so those with the unacceptable feelings and beliefs are expected to remain silent or find themselves treated quite violently. That’s the inevitable results of political correctness.

Instead, we ought to strive for civility. It recognizes that everybody has value as a human being, but not all ideas have value. It allows us to discuss differing viewpoints as equals, to weigh and balance their merits and to either decide to let each other be when the ideas are foolish but not harmful or try to persuade others to a wiser belief when ideas may hold harm to themselves or others.

I don’t favor using government coercion to change other people’s opinions. I also don’t favor attacking each other’s character because of the opinions we hold. You can be wrong without being evil, stupid or insane. Wrong is a difference of opinion correctable by knowledge exchange. Evil is a character flaw that will not be changed by all the discussion the world.

See the difference?

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12 responses to “Choose Civility; It Could Save Lives

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  1. When someone can’t be civil towards someone they disagree with it says a lot about their own character deficiencies. When someone has different point of view, I’m curious as to their reasons and how they got to that position. It often has to do with their own life experiences, their ability to empathize, and their willingness to broaden their understanding of the world and other people.
    I often don’t agree with the position you articulate, but will only challenge topics if I’m at least partly informed. I don’t know the US political climate and personalities well enough to respond, but it helps me understand being the mouse that is sleeping next to a lion. (Fable of the lion & the mouse.)

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    • Well, I’m sure you know about the Alexandria shooting. The shooter’s social media presence was scrubbed within 24 hours of the shooting, but I saw it in those early hours. Rude, opinionated, hateful. Not schizophrenic. I worked with schizophrenics for 15 years. This wasn’t Loughner (guy who shot Gabby Gifford) or Ruth (the guy who shot up the SC church). This guy was sane, but consumed by hatred for opinions he disagreed with and those who held them.

      His social media isn’t unique. You can go to any publication that allows a comment section, and you’ll find the same back-and-forth tit-for-tat lack of civility.

      It’s been growing for as long as the Internet has been around, but it really got underway when Obama was president. If anyone with conservative or libertarian opinions (distinct, but with some shared values) would state an opinion, the Obama-lovers would jump all over them and call them stupid, insane or evil. I strive never to attack someone else’s character, but to address their ideas, and I got flamed by liberal progressives a few times for pointing out economic realities. Back in the Obama days, when that would happen, a progressive would usually step forward and say “She has a right to an opinion, even if she is wrong, because she’s usually the first person here to support your right to be wrong.”

      Since Trump, the liberal progressives are no longer supportive of the right of others to be wrong. Neither are conservatives. They are flaming each other on social media and thinking that’s a debate of ideas. I’m planning an article just to show what I’m talking about.

      Since the shooting, the liberal progressives refuse to acknowledge that this shooter was self-radicalized by their rhetoric – Trump is destroying democracy, got to set aside the American constitution and reverse the election, get rid of the Republicans entirely, make it illegal for conservatives to state an opinion, take their kids away from them to be raised by “right-thinking” people … and so on. They refuse to correlate the riots in places like Berkeley with this shooting. They will insist that Berkeley’s liberal protesters would not have gotten violent if the conservatives who were gathered to support their candidate had just stayed home and not supported their candidate.

      You could see all that reflected in the shooter’s social media posts, but those who espouse those positions are insisting that conservatives caused the shooting by electing Donald Trump and holding the beliefs that they hold. Either that or theiy’re trying to insist he was insane and just glommed onto their rhetoric as an excuse to kill people. Some conservatives are responding with the same hate and character-attacking rhetoric. Those who want to discuss ideas and their merits risk getting attacked by both sides when they post.

      The world is not made a better place by not talking about ideas and debating their merits in the marketplace of ideas, but PC says “these topics” can’t be discussed, even if they NEED to be discussed. If you disagree with the current way we order society, you’re stupid, insane or evil. You couldn’t possibly see a better way and be attempting to show people the reasoning to aim toward it.

      Assuming that someone I disagree with is stupid, evil, insane, racist, sexist … on and on … shuts down discussion and leads to violence. Simple civility assumes that the person I’m talking with means well, but might be sincerely mistaken.

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      • It’s sad to see how much we have lost because we haven’t been educated to listen, consider, and debate. I won’t start a rant about public education but much of that isn’t taught, modeled or developed as a key part of the curriculum.
        What I respect about your posts is that when a politician, who you purposely did vote for does something that you believe moves the right agenda forward, you spell it out for what it’s worth. Yet when you model what I would consider the ultimate respect, too many others don’t recognize the important function that you are modeling for a democracy to remain vibrant and workable.
        Keep on. Keep on.

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      • Well, I didn’t vote for Trump … or Clinton. I voted 3rd party because I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either one of them. Trump was definitely the lesser of two evils on a whole host of issues, but both are authoritarians with no understanding of liberty and an inability to keep their noses out of other people’s business.

        There’s a lot President Trump does that I completely disagree with. But, yes, when he does something right, I say so …. as I would have if Hillary had won. Yeah, I am trying to model what I wish most people in the country would do … focus on the issues, not the person. Ask … are the policies this politician is espousing going to be good for the country or bad for it … not just for some people, but for all the people, not just this year, but 20 years down the road?

        But that’s totally not the discussion we’re having right now. All of this is an argument between two short-sighted ideologies that both want their own way NOW. There’s a joke — “Being a libertarian is like being the only sober person in the car and nobody will let you drive.” That’s kind where I’m at, except I’m pretty sure the left would still be rioting in the streets if Gary Johnson had become president. The riots would be smaller and more sporadic if Hillary had become president, but they’d still be going on. While libertarians are comfortable with putting ideas out there and waiting for people to wake up, the hard left wants the Bernie Sanders’ agenda enacted regardless of the election outcomes and they’re willing to burn the country down to make it happen. There’s no reasoning with them. Fortunately, statistically, they’re only about 15% of the population. Unfortunately, they control public education in this country.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting summary statement… “There’s a joke — “Being a libertarian is like being the only sober person in the car and nobody will let you drive.”
        I say “soldier on”, but that’s the wrong metaphor in this context.

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    • And, given the last several administrations’ treatment of the mice who pissed them off, I don’t blame you for not wanting to anger the lion. The American government no longer reflects the values of a large percentage of the people — no matter which president is in office at that time, a sizable plurality is left without representation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The politics of intolerance has replaced the politics of statesmanship. I think it’s because to be a statesman one needs to be grounded in principles, place value on ethical behaviour, and be motivated by the desire and mandate to enact laws that protect the weak. When a state allows the police to become militarized one must wonder who they consider to be the enemy.

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      • I no longer wonder, Jasper. Our military actively trains with local police departments in how to put down a domestic insurrection. According to friends who retired as officers out of the Army, under the Obama administration the US was deemed ripe for a grass-roots political revolution, which it is. Every time our government becomes more authoritarian, they risk liberty-minded people deciding to peacefully overthrow this current power structure. I suspect if we ever manage it, the military will step in and announce martial law. There’s no way the Deep State would allow someone like Ron Paul with a plurality of liberty-minded Congressmen to actually take office.

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      • As you give this brief overview, I’m thinking, sounds like an Empire that is in decay. An empire with feet of iron and clay.
        That doesn’t mean we need to give up, working to help others and speaking up.

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      • You’re right. America should never have tried to be an empire, but we did and all empires eventually run out of steam. I think we don’t, as a society, know that yet, but it’ll sink in over the next decade or so.

        No longer being “great” on the world stage isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Americans because as we decline, we have the opportunity to return to our foundations. There was a time between the Revolution and the Spanish American War when the US was friendly with 98% of the countries on the planet and at war with no one (the Civil War doesn’t count as that was against ourselves). During that century, the US grew to be great, largely based on concepts of liberty and allowing the individual to be brilliant and productive. The last 100 years has largely been feeding off our banked dynamism, which is now running out.

        An empire in decline is going to have some difficulty adjusting to the concept that we can’t push people around anymore, but when we hit rock bottom, we can reevaluate and hopefully return to our roots. Which is why I blog. Ron Paul says it doesn’t matter if people believe us now. They can’t un-hear what we’ve said and when the times are right, they will remember.

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  2. Taylor Swift is a racist white supremacist she licked the KOKKK of Richard Spencer, Benoit Hamon and ANDREW ANGLIN and she voted for Adolf Trump TWICE. Taylor Swift the bkf RACIST also listens to the necro music SEWER 2154 from the racist site the DAILYSTORMER!!! Google “Taylor Swift SEWER 2154” and SEE FOR YOURSELF! The songs talk about spitting in the mouth of 13 year old GIRLS!!! BOYCOTT TAYLOR SWIFT to fight FASCISM and PEDOPHILIA!

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    • Okay, I’ll bite because this is exactly what I’m talking about. I usually don’t allow racist rants on my blog. Jeana is trolling (her profile goes nowhere) and dealing in the sort of rhetoric that inspired the Alexandria shooter. Good job, Jeana. You provided me with a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

      But make no mistake. I am posting this as an example, not because I agree with you in the least.

      Like

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