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Thursday, October 11, 2012

The End Of Civility?


It's political season here in the US and our presidential election is only weeks away.  That means the mud is slinging on both sides of the political aisle.  I'm always open for a good debate on politics, religion, or just about anything else, and so have gotten into a few discussions on Facebook.  Sometimes I get good, reasoned intellectual stimulation.  But more often I see "u suk!" kinds of comments.

It's not been limited to political discussions.  In the four years I've been blogging I will from time to time get hateful comments on posts.  Few of them have been bad enough for me to delete, but some are particularly judgmental without knowing anything about me.  As I stated, I enjoy debate and am willing to go point-to-point on most issues.  But the hateful insulting statements simply are uncalled for.

Where is civility in today's society?  Why do discussions have to quickly devolve into insults and name-calling?  Heck, I've seen many of them start that way!  I honestly don't understand it.  I can disagree with someone's views and beliefs and not hate them.  I have strongly different political views than my father and we often debate the subject, but despite those differences I really love him (hi, Dad!).  While I am very politically conservative I have friends who are quite liberal.  Though I disagree with them I can also see past those issues to appreciate who they are otherwise.

I see so little of these better attitudes nowadays.  People seem unable to disagree without hating.  And they seem even more unable to express their opposition without insults.  I was in a discussion with someone of liberal leanings on Facebook and he kept making quite rude and hate-filled comments.  I challenged him to make one salient point without an insult. He responded by insulting me and other conservatives.  He was literally unable to do so.

When did this happen?  I shouldn't be surprised, though.  It's part of human nature and people are often of very strong opinions which they defend with passion.  I've heard a dramatization of campaign advertisements from John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and they are even more directly insulting than anything you'd see in modern politics.

Even so, I'd love to see a return to civility.  Disagree without insult.  And when you're talking to a stranger online, be very careful about the assumptions you make.  It's impossible to really know someone just by reading their words on a computer screen (even when they write over 800 blog entries like me).  

Sometimes old adages are indeed best.  "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

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