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Against Civility

| January 28, 2011

FlaglerLive Editor Pierre Tristam’s weekly commentaries are broadcast on WNZF on Fridays just after 9 a.m. Here’s this week’s.

I’m getting a little tired of all this talk of civility and bipartisanship, as if more handshakes, fewer guns and Fox news sounding more like NPR would somehow make us a better country. But it wasn’t lack of civility or Sarah Palin’s crosshairs that led to the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Gifford and the killing of six others in Tucson. It was the murderous folly of a home-grown terrorist that did. The 2008 financial crisis happened not because corporate bosses and government types were at each other’s throats, but because they were in bed together.

The Commentary As Heard on WNZF
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And if you want to see what bipartisanship gets you, look at the results: Iraq and Afghanistan are the most bipartisan achievements of the last two presidencies and last four Congresses. They’re also America’s two costliest failures in blood, dollars and influence of the last ten years—not because of too much disagreement at home, but because of too little debate and too much salute-the-flag acceptance of whatever either Presidents Bush or Obama claimed, much of it bogus.

Civility has its place. But not when it’s a substitute for submission. School principals love this whole chatter about civility because it’s one more tool in the control box. Business types love to talk about teamwork because it’s another way to marginalize dissent and maintain the status quo. But creativity is by nature disruptive. Change is upsetting. Pluralism is noisy. Otherwise it’s just China with English subtitles.

So we don’t need fairness doctrines or speech codes or friendlier seating arrangements in Congress. That’s childish, boy-scout stuff, not the stuff of a mature, courageous democracy. We need disagreement. We need intelligent debate. We need to challenge authority and received wisdom at every level, from any pulpit. Just leave out the assassinations—assassinations of reason, of facts, of character, and of course of people.  With that alone civility would take care of itself.

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9 Responses for “Against Civility”

  1. Jack says:

    Very Nice Commentary!

  2. notasenior says:

    The key phrase is “we need intelligent debate.” When Tea Baggers say “keep the government off my Medicare,” it makes me wonder how intelligent the debate can really be.

  3. lawabidingcitizen says:

    notasenior – FYI — tea baggers are those who engage in a particular homosexual behavior that I don’t believe includes discussion of Medicare.

  4. William says:

    Very true indeed Pierre. The reason we’re not likely to see true civility is because the elite control the messages delivered via the airwaves. And their intellectually challenged viewers/listeners are too lazy, or too mesmerized by the hologram to question the veracity of the message.

    Keeping the plebes distracted and/or at each other’s throats maintains their ability to get away with murder.

  5. Liana G says:

    “Business types love to talk about teamwork because it’s another way to marginalize dissent and maintain the status quo.”

    Yes but when the teams dissent there’s more traction than when it’s one lone dissenter. Look at what’s going on in the Middle East. Though it did begin with the one lone Tunisian, if it were not for others coming together – teamwork – nothing would have come of it. Better to have people working together so that they can collaborate together.

    I guess it goes back to the saying ‘It takes a village . . .”,

    William – Spot on! President Sarkozy very rightly tore into Jamie Dimon at Davos recently but I seriously doubt the guy felt ashamed or remorseful. His kind doesn’t feel such emotions.

  6. notasenior says:

    lawabidingcitizen – FYI – you obviously only know one definition (by the way the act isn’t limited to “homosexuals”), but I, like many others, refer to Tea Baggers as those known in the media as the Tea Party. thanks for making my point about being informed.

  7. Liana G says:

    Correction; Should read Africa instead of Middle East – since I am referring to Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan. Though geography has nothng to do with it.

    I hope Mr Delbrugge and his family are safe, if Pierre can find out.

  8. ignorancecosts says:

    It’s very hard to have an honest and factual debate, when the media has lost it’s mission to report ALL the facts on any given issue, and not take sides. Therefore you have ‘rogue’ media succeeding in garnering growing numbers of viewers/listeners who want to know the ‘rest of the story’, in the void that is left when all of the mainstream networks choose to broadcast the same top 5 stories, and give them the same slant. daily. The ‘new kids on the block’ are then targeted by those whose profits and status quo are threatened. Competition is never fun when it first shows up to take up some of your slack, (and your territory) but it usually always benefits people at large by increasing innovation and access. In the case of factual debate, having broader access to more facts, differing opinions, is only negative when it undermines those who want to control others. The more facts that are known, by the largest number of people, gives power to people who cannot be lied to by those who wish to control them. (exception for national security, of course, as you can’t trust everyone to have our country’s best interests at heart)

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