Is The Problem Not Really The Lack Of Civility?

Is The Problem Not Really The Lack Of Civility? January 17, 2011

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.

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