Is The Problem Not Really The Lack Of Civility?

mistermix argues the real poison in the discourse is not incivility but, rather, dishonesty:

if I had a choice between a more civil discourse and a more honest one, I’d pick honesty every time.

The reason that hundreds of angry people came to town hall meetings in my Congressional district in 2009, and the reason that police had to be present where they had never been before, wasn’t because someone was “uncivil”. It was because their media heroes and party leaders told them a pack of lies about death panels, federal funding for abortions, Medicare being taken away and free insurance for illegal immigrants. The questions that my Congressman took at those hate-filled meetings weren’t reasonable queries about limited government, deficits and healthcare outcomes. They were questions about why he wanted to kill grandma, let the government pay to abort babies, and take away Medicare.

I think both are the problem and that the dishonesty in our discourse is an outgrowth of the incivility. There is too little respect for opponents as people of good will, with whom debates in good faith can occur, and rather treatment of the entirety of the other side as an enemy to be defeated at whatever costs and by whatever means.

I like Chris Christie’s balance as he calls for, and in my experience often role models, straightforwardness about one’s views and reasons without nastiness or vitriol, or as I put it, we can tell The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But The Truth—But With No Name Calling.  It’s a false dichotomy that thinks being bluntly truthful requires being gratuitously acrimonious or shutting down dialogue.

Watch the latest video at

Your Thoughts?

Patheos Atheist LogoLike Camels With Hammers and Patheos Atheist on Facebook!

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.