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Thursday, May 17, 2012

An Exchange on Civility

This post is found, in part, on this Republican subreddit entry.




The submission linked to an image which attempts to convey the indignation felt by the Republicans in this forum about arguing or disagreeing with liberals.






Since I'm not one to generally let stuff go without tossing out my thoughts on it, I posted a response which, unfortunately, didn't garner a response from the original poster of the picture.  It did, however, get me a little bit of anger from someone who read previous posts of mine and thought I was being hypocritical.  I'll attempt to do an effective job pasting in the exchange below.


My response to the post:
"For what it's worth, I've been told I'm a liberal though I'm enough of a hipster to dislike being put into any particular ideological brand and prefer to try to think pragmatically.

On that note, I do not hate all Republicans. I do not hate all conservatives, (L)libertarians, minarchists, Democrats, Greens, Constitutionalists or progressives or any other ideological or political affiliation. I would venture to say that I don't hate any of them, nor any individual person.

I hate discord. I hate apathy, antipathy, presumptions of malevolence and distinctions so bold and bifurcated that there is only right and wrong. Our method of government is one of those which puts on high the idea that we can discuss and, via rhetoric and not might, come to solutions for the real world problems we must face. Because there are supporters and people who believe in a particular policy, that therefore makes it a viable policy prescription, whether it be a federation of near-independent states or a massive federal arm with satellite states holding little power. Our government is what we make of it and the brass tacks is how we discuss the matters with one another and how we motivate the supporters for various positions to demonstrate their will in the political system.

I suppose that makes me, in some ways, a filthy free love hippie because I think civil discourse is preferable over polemic, and that no problem is one that we shouldn't approach in this way. I don't think it's a utopia for that to be the standard, as it's demonstrably obvious that it can be frustrating, grating and painful to have to endure the slowness and unpredictability that having free and open discussions in our society necessitates. Moreover, those who disagree with me are still my brothers and sisters in this nation, and that at most means we are adversaries. At worst we are opponents on a field that we both not only must, but should because we all were and are created as equals. You and I both have a vested interest in seeing our neighborhoods, cities, counties, states, regions and country do well.

For that I thank you and I will always make the best attempts to assume good intentions on the part of those who disagree with me, though I am significantly less than perfect in that regard."


User GeneralPudding responded with the following:

" I suppose that makes me, in some ways, a filthy free love hippie because I think civil discourse is preferable over polemic, and that no problem is one that we shouldn't approach in this way.

That's funny coming from a guy who, not just 5 days ago, wrote this:


We don't need to play their market games with boycotts to defeat the opinion and outlook of a person like Limbaugh. We don't need to actively splinter and divide his audience and constituency the way he does ours with fear, uncertainty and doubt. We don't need to compete. That's their values and tactics and methods. We can go on his turf, play by his rules, with half our brain tied behind our back and still win in rhetorical sport. Because we really are the ones that are right, and it's a matter of putting it in words and values and principles more people can understand and relate to.

so yeah, you like "civil discourse" and "free and open discussions", except when it's from talk radio conservatives like Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity...."


The linked comment Pudding is quoting is from one I made regarding my opinion that while boycotts can be effective in some instances for affecting change, the outcry and subsequent advertiser pullouts from Rush Limbaugh's show in the aftermath of his fiendish remarks on Sandra Fluke would not ultimately be positive because they would only last as long as public attention was on the matter(which time seems to have borne out as true since advertisers have begun returning to his program) and more importantly, Limbaugh's listeners would perceive the boycott as an attack on conservatism, his rights and an insult to all of their opinions on women, regardless of whether these things are true or intended.  That comment is quoted entirely in the Boycotting Ideological Leaders post just put up a few moments ago.

In any event, I responded as follows:

"Ya know you're absolutely correct, I probably do engage in hyperbolic language and it's something I must try to keep in check. I try to account for my tendency to be 'overly passionate' or my screeds with such portions of my post as this, which you neglected to quote.

For that I thank you and I will always make the best attempts to assume good intentions on the part of those who disagree with me, though I am significantly less than perfect in that regard.(emphasis mine)

If it pleases you, GeneralPudding, I will explain my verbiage and I honestly don't think there's anything wrong or even offensive with what I said. However, if I was unfair or stereotyping with what I said, do point out my hypocrisies or contradictions so that I may learn from my generalizations.

First, for those who didn't click the link for whatever reason(or read my rather lengthy rambling, since I do tend to do that), the quoted portion of my post comes from a dissenting post in /r/politics regarding the boycott of Rush Limbaugh's advertisers. To summarize, I don't think a boycott of Proflowers/Carbonite/Legalzoom/Any-other-advertiser is the appropriate way to address Limbaugh's influence on the conservative dialogue, or via that, the Republican party and its priorities in our country.

From my perspective, it is admitting defeat in the rhetorical play-field which is our ongoing and perpetual national political discussion to resort to a boycott. I've met many a liberal/progressive who feel it's not even worth it to call into Limbaugh(/Hannity/Levin/Beck/Ingraham/Miller/I'm sure in this sub many of you have favorites and less-favored political commentators which you like or dislike for your own individual reasons) because 'the game is rigged' due to it being a conservative-run program which often does advertise for organizations such as Hillsdale College or the Heritage Foundation or other similarly minded outfits.

I say bullshit, and if 'we' are right, and by we I mean liberals/progressives/environmentalists/feminists/Democrats (again, I realize some of these broad groups do overlap with libertarians/conservationalists/conseratives/Republicans depending on a particular issue, but I am grossly generalizing for the sake of my ongoing rantble), then 'we' ought be able to find someone amongst our ilk which can operate on a level to 'hang with' those talented and high-paid personalities on the radio.

Sure, we've our own programs such as The Daily Show or Colbert Report, but those programs aren't watched by conservatives or Republicans the way they are liberals or Democrats(just like most libs or Dems don't actually listen to Limbaugh/Hannity/O'Reilly but will observe the soundbites of the programs and will be utterly, totally, shocked by what they hear) and therefore the only way our ideological leaders(which aren't even our political leaders on either side, mind-blowingly) don't have much to do with one another aside from their respective listeners arguing around the water cooler, dinner table or construction site.

Instead(and here's where I finally start breaking down my comment quoted by GeneralPudding), we ought to demonstrate those values we are sometimes lampooned for in our approach to 'playing the very serious game and sport' of politics:


We don't need to play their market games with boycotts to defeat the opinion and outlook of a person like Limbaugh

Liberals don't need to, and really shouldn't, utilize the free market to express their contempt for the opinion and outlook of Rush Limbaugh. I realize I sort of addressed this point in an earlier paragraph. No, I'm not going to go back and edit my post because....just because I'm on a riff here, dammit.

We don't need to actively splinter and divide his audience and constituency the way he does ours with fear, uncertainty and doubt.

My personal opinion is that Limbaugh and other public figures of conservative media apply an all-too-combative tone to their rhetoric which is perfectly fine when it comes to discussing matters relating to people or organizations which are outside our own political environment. But when talking about things with our fellow citizenry? I think it's at the least poor form to practice such caricatures of liberals as malevolent forces seeking to do harm to others. But it's profitable via drawing many listeners, and more importantly, he and others on the air do absolutely make very strong arguments which listeners can then use in their daily discussions with liberal friends/coworkers/etc. *See the linked post for more on that point.

That's their values and tactics and methods. We can go on his turf, play by his rules, with half our brain tied behind our back and still win in rhetorical sport. Because we really are the ones that are right, and it's a matter of putting it in words and values and principles more people can understand and relate to.

This refers to, again, the polemic and pretty obvious(in my view) demonization of liberals on these programs which serves little for constructive public discourse of very important issues. I think it's just as unproductive as it is for Bill Maher, Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann to smirk and say conservatives are stupid or heartless or malevolent for holding the views or positions on policy that they do.

Now to be sure, I'm sure there can be other quotes by me which can be found which belie my intent and positions. Read my various comments and I'm confident that you'll come away with an impression which is not that which is given by a selective quote, as many people like to say, 'taken out of context'.

Thanks for reading all of this if you did!"


Doubly so for anyone getting through all of that, and while I have yet to post the reason I feel the need to have a blog specifically for my own views on matters and views on the ways others in public express their views about not just issue but one another, it's probably becoming apparent that when it comes to having an opinion, I'm rather open to differing perspectives so long as a tenant of that perspective isn't to assume all those disagreeing are stupid or evil and must be conquered and scattered.