Thursday, January 13, 2011

On the end of civility

Okay, so it's not huge, but it's kind of depressing in an emblematic way--the Civility Project has folded after two years and three responses out of 585 letters.

Mark DeMoss (Republican, evangelical Christian) and Lanny Davis (Democrat, Jewish, former Clinton lobbyist) sent out 585 letters, one each to every sitting governor and member of Congress. The 585 were asked to sign the following hideous, spiteful, degrading pledge:
I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.

I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.

I will stand against incivility when I see it.


The three complete bastards--out of 585--who dared put their names to such a travesty were Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Rep. Frank Wolfe (R-VA), and Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC).

DeMoss and Davis didn’t get any responses from any other governors or Congresspeople, but they did get a few e-mails from the common man.
The gutless republicans do not need more gutless wonders like you in the rhino party. You remind me of someone that would bring a rock or knife to a gun fight. The thugs, communists, racists, bigots, liars, nazis, and America hating sons of b------ in the democrat party are scum of the Earth and will do anything to win. I believe you have been watching to many old movies where the good guy always win. Vince Lombardi put it best. Winning is not everything, it is the only thing.

Grow up - this is real life and when the socialist want to take over a free country, people like me are not civil and if the Obama socialists aren’t stopped soon by elections, the next step is violent revolution - it’s how our free country was born. You people are morons.

At the risk of sounding uncivil, what the freaking fuck?!

How did we get to the point where civility equals gutlessness and violent revolution is the only reasonable response to disagreement? How did we become so attached to revolution and trees watered with the blood of patriots that any suggestion that in the interest of actually accomplishing things we might be polite to each other is some sort of affront, worthy of nasty language? (“And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change…”)

We're just too flipping lazy. Being civil is hard, y'all--first you have to take a deep breath and flatten down whatever uncivil remark was about to spring unbidden from your trap, then you have to really consider what the other person just said, and then you have to craft a reasonable response to what they just said, hopefully in a tone that will encourage consideration and a reasonable response from the other person. On the other hand, calling someone a poopy-head and spitting chaw on their shoes takes little thought or effort at all. The people packing heat and wishing a motherfucker would are doing it for one reason: Rambo looked cool, and thoughtless aggression is easy (although I suspect that the number of chaw-spitters who would be able to follow through if the motherfuckers really did is small to nothing). Considering the impact and possible repercussions of that aggression puts you back in the area of civility, and that's hard, y'all.


Be better. Everyone, be better. Be better than 582 lawmakers and a bunch of dipwads with e-mail accounts and poor spelling skills. Me, too. Be better, ACG. Make the country better.

Anyway, even though the Civility Project has come to an end, the message is still an important one and one in desperate need of spreading. You can still sign the petition for yourself online. I did it, and while the chances of me actually being successfully civil on this blog are shaky, at least it might remind me to actually try. And maybe, as DeMoss and Davis are shutting the project down (which in my mind would involve unplugging the computers and watching them power down, walking to the door, giving the empty room one last look, sighing, flipping the light switch, and then leaving the office without a backward look as the overhead lights flick off one by one, although I’m fairly sure it won’t happen that way), they’ll run across your signatures and e-mails and say, “Hey, look, it’s eight supportive e-mails from people who aren’t calling us worthless, moronic, un-American dickwhistles. That kind of makes my day.” And then the unplugging and the thing with the lights.

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