A Template

This is what a civilized person would write in the face of this tragedy and the hate speech. It can be used generally. Strike out the ones that don’t apply to you and it is good to go for both sides.

As a liberal/conservative I apologize for the left/right hate speech over the last decade. Although there is no reason to believe that specific hate speech provoke the recent bloodshed, the attacks on Bush/Obama and liberals/conservatives have created a poisonous climate and it would be better if we were all more civil.

I understand that what sounds like a hard - but true - attack to supporters can sound like hate to opponents. Passionate debate can be tough and politics is too important to be denatured by demanding that everybody avoid contentious topics and comparisons. We need to make reasonable distinctions. Martial metaphors have long been used in politics, sports and daily life. When a teenager says that his parents are going to kill him for denting the car, we all know it is just a metaphor. When we encourage our football team to crush the opponents we don’t expect it to happen physically. It is disingenuous to pretend that we fear actual violence or that it is an incitement to hate.

On the other hand, comparing American presidents to Nazis is never appropriate. Republicans were offended when it was done to Bush and Democrats are offended when it is done to Obama. They are both American presidents and honorable men. Liberals know that Bush didn’t go to war to enrich his friends and conservatives know that Obama is not trying to lose those wars now that he is Commander in Chief.

We should not support in our rhetoric what we know in our hearts is not true.

Intelligent conservatives reject pinheads who claim President Obama is not American, say he wants to sell out America or dislikes white people. These are stupid and hurtful ideas that only stupid or hateful people believe. Intelligent liberals rejected those dummies who claimed that Bush was selling the country to big oil, that he started a war to make his friends rich or that he had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. These are also things that only stupid or hateful people believe.

And nobody has the right to advocate or perform actual violence. In our American democracy we have alternatives to violence. Anybody engaged in an “armed struggle” against a Democracy is acting immorally. There is no such thing as a "freedom fighter" in a country that protects the rule of law and where people can vote. And nobody who commits violence should be able to use as an excuse that he was acting in the name of others.

Fair minded Americans recognize the difference between opponents and enemies. Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives believe they are doing what is best for their country, for our country. Both parties have contributed to the greatness of our country and both parties have made serious mistakes. But we are all Americans. Maybe we should all tone it down a bit. We can disagree w/o being disagreeable.

Posted by Christine & John at January 12, 2011 6:36 PM
Comment #316958

“We should not support in our rhetoric what we know in our hearts is not true.”

Very well said. A simple but elegant rule.

Posted by: Rich at January 12, 2011 7:00 PM
Comment #316961


Actually, it was William James who said it in a different context, but I am glad you like it. I think it fits here.

Posted by: C&J at January 12, 2011 7:17 PM
Comment #316967

How very true C&J could not agree more

Posted by: KAP at January 12, 2011 7:43 PM
Comment #316973

Well Said.

Posted by: Warped Reality at January 12, 2011 9:04 PM
Comment #316978

THANK YOU C&J It’s always good to here words of reason from what ever political side of the debate one may be on.

Posted by: Jeff at January 12, 2011 9:28 PM
Comment #316997

Agree 100%. Com’on in boys, the water’s fine. It ain’t that hard to say it. And think how much more effective our government could be if we actually debated policy on its merits instead of the character of our opponents. The extremists on the left and the right would actually have to KNOW what they were talking about. Hmmmmmm.

Posted by: LibRick at January 12, 2011 11:33 PM
Comment #316999

were it so C&J, were it so. Where are all the conservatives agreeing with the statements you have made?

“The worst e-mails I received about the civility project were from conservatives with just unbelievable language about communists, and some words I wouldn’t use in this phone call,” DeMoss told the Times. “This political divide has become so sharp that everything is black and white, and too many conservatives can see no redeeming value in any liberal or Democrat. That would probably be true about some liberals going the other direction, but I didn’t hear from them.


Posted by: j2t2 at January 12, 2011 11:47 PM
Comment #317078

C&J what have you done here? You got all huffy over in the blue column declared your side “winners” and then posted this excellent article. It has been over 24 hours since you posted this article. The conservatives have deafened us with their silence on this issue. It seems civility is just not in the kool aid. Other than KAP and yourself it seems conservatives cannot defend their positions politically in a civil manner. It seems they must resort to insults and hateful speech. The silence seems to prove quite a bit, ready to concede the point?

Posted by: j2t2 at January 13, 2011 10:51 PM
Comment #317122


You said, “It has been over 24 hours since you posted this article. The conservatives have deafened us with their silence on this issue.” Unfortunately, the silence seems to be deafening from both sides with only 8 comments on the topic. That is very discouraging for a community where the rules of participation are crafted to encourage civility.

The return to civility in political discourse here on Watchblog is something I would very much appreciate. I would appreciate even more a return to dialog and debate that is aimed at convincing opponents and fence sitters rather than reinforcing the base and point scoring.

I would love to see the day again on Watchblog where I can change my mind on something based on the merits of the ideas served up by someone with whom I generally disagree. Because I’m human, I would love to see the day again where something that I write would have a similar affect on someone who generally disagrees with me.

By the way, I am a conservative, and I agree with C&J that I reject, “pinheads who claim President Obama is not American, say he wants to sell out America or dislikes white people.”

Do you agree as an intelligent liberal that, “…ejected those dummies who claimed that Bush was selling the country to big oil, that he started a war to make his friends rich or that he had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.” are only things that stupid people believe?

Posted by: Rob at January 14, 2011 1:05 PM
Comment #317124

I’m sorry, didn’t Bush and his team have advanced knowledge of the 911 attacks?

Posted by: The other Paul at January 14, 2011 1:11 PM
Comment #317125

I would agree and reject that Bush started the war in Iraq for oil, but to say they had no advance knowledge of the 911 attacks is a little different. They indeed had advance knowledge that attacks were imminent and some of the tactics that could be used. Whether or not they had sufficient details to prevent the attacks is another debate. But to say “zero advance warning” is false.

Posted by: The other Paul at January 14, 2011 1:22 PM
Comment #317126

Rob, I do tend to put talk radio conservatives and other extremist in the same group with conservatives when commenting here, perhaps I will make it a resolution to distinguish the two groups.

I to agree with C&J in that I reject people (not pinheads) who claim Obama is not American, who believe it is Obama’s intent to “sell out” America and dislikes white people. I am not an intelligent liberal (nor a dummy) but I do reject the idea that Bush was selling the country to big oil, I think he had other motives for starting the war, and did not have specific advanced knowledge of 9/11. However when phrased with words such as pinhead and dummies it seems the intent here is less than “civil”.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 14, 2011 1:43 PM
Comment #317135

I guess it is time for one of the pinheaded dummies to make a statement.

I have heard it said that the natural carrying capacity for humans has increased by 5 billion because of oil for fuel and natural gas for fertilizer.

With the possible exception of clean water, nothing rivals oil in importance to human civilization.

With respect to Iraq, WMDs were the excuse, oil was the reason and more specifically, who controls that oil. We still haven’t dug up any WMDs in Iraq, but BP, Exxon, and Shell, among others have found new places to drill for oil.

Iraq was one of the obstacles on the road to corporate globalization.

I don’t think Obama is any of the things that some on the right are claiming, but he is continuing the globalization scheme which will continue to have a deteriorating effect on the middle class workers.

Posted by: jlw at January 14, 2011 2:36 PM
Comment #317138

jlw, Bush didn’t sell this country to big oil though did he? He leased land to them and gave away subsidies but sold them nothing that I am aware of. He didn’t start the war to enrich his buddies, he had other reasons for the war, his buddies just took advantage of the situation to enrich themselves. Bush didn’t have specific knowledge of the attacks on 9/11 to my knowledge. Perhaps he should have but that is a different story.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 14, 2011 3:08 PM
Comment #317140

While I’ll wait and see if Conservatives and Republicans can hold themselve to a Civil Debate on the Issues; however, at the same time I’ll wait and see if the Democrats and Liberals can hold themselve to a Civil Debate on the Issues.

For just as the Youth of the 60’s and Silver Spoons of the 70’s had to learn how to agree to disagree after their generation found themselve confronted with the “F-You Debates” of the Radio and Media Pundits of their time. I hope the Children of the 70’s and 21st Century can learn why “Just Because” works after being confronted with misinformation and name calling by the Radio and Media Pundits of our time.

Because though it might be hard to defend and/or explain how and why Labor and Management must work together with Corporate Owners and Stockholders. As one who has lived a lifetime standing in complete Loyal Opposition to My Community Elders and Peers of the 70’s in their quest for a Better World. I am still anazed from time to time at the Civilized Discourse found here at WB when confronted by an Independent Political Point of View.

Since I know that it is not if, but how will our generation solve the Issues of the 20th Century and prepare for the Human Events of the 21st Century that should matter to us all above anything else.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at January 14, 2011 3:42 PM
Comment #317150

The other Paul

I don’t think I can add anything that would reveal your position better than you have.


I think there are few comments because this posting is reasonable, fair & balanced (to steal a phrase). The ones Stephen wrote on the other side were hateful and nasty. They tried to fix the blame with no thought of trying to fix the problem. They quickly degenerated into both sides confessing the sins of the others and trying themselves to show how they had been victimized. This kind of thing attracts many more comments and creates outrage.

It reminds me of the joke about the kid who didn’t talk.

The kid seems perfectly healthy but he never talks. His parents take him to all sorts of specialists and nobody can figure out why he doesn’t talk.

Finally when he is six years old, at breakfast he says, “this oatmeal is cold.” His parents are amazed. His mother says, “you can talk?” “Of course I can talk,” the kid responds.

Then why didn’t you ever say anything before?”

The kid says, “up until now everything has been okay.”

Re pinheads - yes, it was less than civil. But I do believe that some people place themselves outside the circle of credibly and civility.

Posted by: C&J at January 14, 2011 6:24 PM
Comment #317186

So then u agree then? Let’s compare apples and apples here. If u said Bush doesn’t hate black people anymore then Obama hates white people. I would agree. But equating the conspiracy theory that Obama wants to destroy America to the bush admin and 911, that’s just silly. You’ve clearly stated your position. You’re ready to absolve bush of any wrong doing in 8 years of sitting on his hands but of course Obama from what again? Being a commie?

Posted by: The other paul at January 15, 2011 10:05 AM
Comment #317188

other Paul

I make it a point now not to get into some sorts of theories or argue with the people who hold them. If you believe those things about 9/11, I have no more pearls to cast before you.

You will inevitably misunderstand my arguments and/or try to inflame them, as you did by the use of the word “commie” which I have never used.

Posted by: C&J at January 15, 2011 11:15 AM
Comment #317198

J2t2, I never made reference to Bush selling the country to big oil because it is a ridiculous assumption. Sell the country?

It is not about selling the country, it is about government supporting certain factions to the detriment of others and possibly the country.

The country was challenge and it responded by electing (don’t worry, be happy, go shopping).

The symbol that best represents our times is Reagan’s removal of the solar panels. That was a resounding message.

Posted by: jlw at January 15, 2011 3:10 PM
Comment #317208


So we cannot give up the hate and blame fixing on a post that is about giving up hate and blame fixing?

Posted by: C&J at January 15, 2011 5:34 PM
Comment #317217

“I think there are few comments because this posting is reasonable, fair & balanced (to steal a phrase). The ones Stephen wrote on the other side were hateful and nasty.”

Are you saying the talk radio conservatives only respond to the nasty stuff? It seems that despite what you may think of the blue column posts the liberals/dems/left of center types were able to respond to your post in a positive way.

BTW, Wonder why Rush’s straight shooter sign was taken down in Tuscon? I mean it’s not like it was suggestive of anything right?

jlw, didn’t mean to imply that you did, sorry. I was explaining why I could agree to the statement. I understand your misgivings about the previous administration and the problems we are still enduring today due to the wrong headed policies they put into place. I think C&J was just trying to make a point. While the outrageous claims made against Obama were easy to come up with those against Bush, that many claim us guys on the left showered upon him, were less obvious which I guess says something doesn’t it?

Posted by: j2t2 at January 15, 2011 8:34 PM
Comment #317221


As my joke implies, people don’t often feel the need to comment when things are going okay.

re scurrilous accusations against Bush, you don’t have to look far. Just look in the archives of this blog.

The “birther” idea on the right is as marginal as the “truther” is on the left. Bill O’Reilly consistently calls “birthers” pinheads and he doesn’t tolerate people who claim that Obama hates white people.

I believe that much of the anxiety on the left is driven by their own caricatures of what the right is saying about them. The Daily Kos crowd picks up somethings that was said as a joke or out of context and makes a big deal.

There is a nutty fringe on both sides. Think of the “truther” idea. How crazy do you have to be to believe it? It requires a really nutty mindset with lots of variables. It would require hundreds of people to be in on it AND to have kept silent for almost ten years. Not possible. The “birther” thing is stupid too, but it is kind of a technicality. Even if Obama was not born in the U.S, he acquired American citizenship at birth through his U.S. citizen mother. So the whole “birther” thing makes no difference. Liberals talk about it more than conservatives.

Posted by: C&J at January 15, 2011 9:04 PM
Comment #317419

Well said C&J.

We all hold our beliefs dear and it can blind us to the reality that so does everybody else even those who believe something 180 degrees the other way. This does not mean that we don’t engage in vigorous debate but there should be the concession that neither us progressives nor you conservatives or those in the middle are trying to destroy the country. I don’t think that my point of view (and I try not to be too ideological) has all the answers and try to stay open to good ideas no matter where they come from.

That has been lost in this country - it has been a slow progression but really accelerated with Bill Clinton and has been on a steady uphill climb to where we are now. The GOP has just been the party out of power (till recently) and has been pushing this climate up but rest assured if we were talking about a McCain/Palin White House the Dems would be setting their hair on fire.

Though blaming those who represent us in government is also missing the point IMHO. We, all Americans, own this. We buy tickets to sporting events and believe that this gives us the right to shout obscenities at officials and players for the other teams, we show up at political events with signs portraying the opposition as Nazis. We accuse presidents of being behind terrorist acts or of being a non-American-anti-American-Muslim-socialist-Nazi. Our politicians are only a reflection of us. We, as Americans, need to rise above this and not call out the worst actors on the other side but those on our own who cross the line. If we don’t fall for demagoguery we won’t have demagogues.

Posted by: tcsned at January 18, 2011 8:48 AM
Comment #318040

To the ‘birther’/citizen issue:

Your parents are married. You have one parent who is not a U.S. citizen and one parent who denounced their U.S. citizenship before you were born, what country are you born a citizen of?

Posted by: L&P at February 1, 2011 5:58 PM
Comment #318075

Actually you can be a Citizen of three different nations upon your birth. For with one parent being from one nation you automatically have citizenship in most countries and if your other parent being from a different country, but having the same kind of law you are automatically a citizen of that nation; however, if you are in another country different than that of your own parent you might be automatically considered a Citizen of that country as well.

And why that might be hard for some to comprehend, I wonder what happens to those born in International Waters?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 2, 2011 6:20 PM
Comment #318147

Man, what has happened to this site?
Where did everybody go?

Posted by: kctim at February 4, 2011 5:05 PM
Comment #318168

My opinion?
They got fed-up with all the personal attacks & the inability to have civil discussions.
Or…it could be I was no longer contributing to the site. lol :)

Posted by: Dawn at February 4, 2011 10:06 PM
Comment #318290

Wow, got that bad eh?

Thanks Dawn. Great to see your beautiful name still here :)

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Comment #350113

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