Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Civility Is A Big Tent

The idea that the tragic shootings in Arizona over the weekend are attributable to the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, the right wing or "anti-government" rhetoric is too stupid to merit discussion. It is itself an example of the debasememnt of our political conversation.

It's not new. If, for example, you watch taped coverage of John F. Kennedy's assassination, there was an undercurrent of "blame the right wing" before Air Force One had even returned to Washington. To a large degree that bit of folk wisdom has continued to this day. Yet Kennedy was shot by a communist.

Still, I'm all for more civility in political discourse and have frequently blogged about it here. The first step in civility is to avoid the automatic presumption that your opponents are ignorant or acting in bad faith; that they are somehow not like you.

So I agree with Rep. Tammy Baldwin that we ought to find ways of deliberation and discourse that "respect difference of opinion." One place to start, of course, is to refrain from promiscuous allegations of "bigotry" and "hatred." It might continue with care about accusing others of "destroying" the government or leaving people to die.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe we could even refrain from saying that others' opinions are "too stupid to merit discussion"!

jp said...

Forrest Gump: Stupid is as stupid does.

Whatever the hell that means.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, maybe you should tell this to your friends Sykes and Wagner.

John Foust said...

Anonymous, here's the way to do it:

Standard Contradictory Disclaimer™: I'm all for more civility in political discourse and have frequently blogged about it here. Anyone who disagrees with me is too stupid to merit discussion.