Saturday, June 30, 2018

True Civility

I am going to put up a piece about true civility, but am still gathering my thoughts, and want to browse a little of what people are writing before making broad generalisations.  Who am I kidding?  I have a broad generalisation that the sudden explosion of people writing about True Civility, Real Civility, is an evasion, one of those changes of topic to move the discussion to other grounds.  If you run across any examples you can let me know, and feel free to comment in advance.

1 comment:

Texan99 said...

My FB feed exploded with nastiness about civility this week. There was a good bit of "Isn't the real civility a bare-knuckle cage-fight to the death, when the stakes are this high, which they've never been before ever ever?" There was also a lot of "how dare these hateful vermin lecture us about civility?" I've got 2-3 neighbors right now sending me endless messages about how they simply can't comprehend how anyone with an ounce of humanity or discernment could possibly believe in a political philosophy that so obviously is based on hatred and division and oppression, etc.

I'm trying to get this message across: approach me in that tone, and we'll end up having a long (and I hope civil, at least on my part) discussion about what it means to discuss hot-button issues civilly on their merits while avoiding personal attacks. I'm not actually going to debate the merits until we've established we can operate on a civil level. I try saying, "You can never reach me with an argument in the form of 'You only believe Idea X because you belong to Group Y,' whether Y is Republicans, lawyers, or privileged white people." It's a non-starter. They have to figure out how to argue what's wrong with Idea X without that crutch.

Sometimes I'm left saying, "It must be very uncomfortable to hold that view about so many of your neighbors. I wouldn't enjoy it." Sometimes I say, "If you believe that's what motivates Republicans, I can understand your puzzlement and alarm. I would feel that way if I drew those conclusions about your motives, too. But I actually think we more often disagree about means than ends." Unfortunately, that often draws the response, "No, we don't. It's obvious my politics are the only possible means to the only good ends, and anyone who disagrees must be simply evil"--sometimes with a "I thought better of you" thrown in.

Former Pres. Obama had some interesting butt-kicking remarks to supporters earlier this week. Essentially he told them that if they really believed we were facing a crisis they'd act more like it: spend more money, do more organizing, vote more reliably. Otherwise he suspected they were playing "ain't it awful."