It’s hard to take civility seriously when dishonesty gets a pass. Civility and honesty are both grand bargains, vital agreements. A university debate team wouldn’t accept debaters who routinely lie yet in political discourse, from the highest national office to the lowest blog troll, dishonesty is the rule now.
And let’s not pretend it’s a both-sides issue. It isn’t. I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by saying that no liberal has ever lied from a podium or in a blog post but there it’s the exception not the rule; on the conservative side lying is as reflexive as breathing. “His lips are moving” stopped being funny years ago.
I’ve been on message boards, mailing lists, and blogs arguing politics for almost a quarter century. Time and time again we wished for at least one conservative participant who didn’t just try to stir up trouble, who didn’t troll us, who could argue his positions honestly and, yes, with civility.
They don’t exist.
Example. We all know that it was Republican Abraham Lincoln who signed the Emancipation Proclamation. We all know that the Dixiecrats were racist Democrats deeply connected to the KKK. But we also know that all this was set on its head when LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act, and the Dixiecrats moved en masse to the GOP.
Yet Republican trolls will post about Sen. Byrd’s Klan membership, omitting his later denunciation. They’ll write about the “Democrat” KKK. Stirred into action to correct the record, many will take time, a lot of time, to do so, yet within hours if not minutes the same lies will be repeated, again omitting Byrd’s renunciation and the CRA. Round and round we go, unless we get off.
I gave up long ago. Most forums I am on have a block / ignore feature. I now apply it to all Trump supporters, to most conservatives. It’s not intolerance, it’s time management. Because anyone who is still on the side of the party that revels in caging children and wiping out animal species is simply beyond the pale and it is no longer a matter of civility.