I Am Man, Hear Me Roar!Roger Durham wonders if modern day discussion has less to do with logic and persuasion than it does a good set of pipes.
It is louder these days. Louder and less civil. Louder and more vitriolic. The effort to contribute to a civil discourse about anything of substance seems as passé as root beer or the nuclear family.
In reading and contributing to The Good Men Project, I have been astounded by the vehemence, and the volume, with which some disagree with articles. The most outrageous example appeared in January, 2011. Founder Tom Matlack, posted an article titled, Cleavage or Soul: What Women Do We Love? He asked provocative questions. He invited a serious look at how men and women are perceived in popular culture. It was, in my view, a thoughtful treatment of gender stereotypes, but a lot of people disagreed with my assessment. Rather than engaging in a civilized challenge of his thoughts, here are some of the comments to Tom’s article:
“No Tom. Men like me have an enemy all right. And the enemy is man-hating, white knighting, mangina apologists like you.”
“I’m guessing you also consider yourself to be one of these ‘nice guys’ women hate. Let me let you in on a secret – you really don’t seem like a nice guy. Frankly, you have a chip on your shoulder the size of a city. And you’re arrogant and condescending. That would be why women would dislike someone like you – you are the douchebag,” offered a woman.
And it got worse. Some who commented became more intent on attacking Tom than on challenging his ideas and furthering any sort of dialogue. The noise grew louder and louder until the “comments” section read more like a transcript of a Maury Povich show than an online conversation about what it means to be a good man.
A friend tells me of a similar experience he had with a blog he posted on the Washington Post. It was for a parenting column. He was stunned by the vitriol and personal attacks his post engendered. More than 100 people took it upon themselves to demean him in some way, and he wasn’t even writing about anything of controversy. It was an article recounting how his son helped him build a website and the lessons about commitment that were learned in the process.
Dear People On The Internet,
You do not make me more sympathetic to your plight by minimizing the struggles of others.
Empathy is not a zero sum game.
Liberal 'Civility' and 'Unbiased' Media in Wake of Thatcher's Death
When a Democratic congresswoman gets shot in the head by a liberal and nearly dies, the left tells everybody it’s time to be nice to each other and pretend we’re all schoolchildren in an episode of Barney and Friends.
When a conservative and arguably the best (though I’d argue the second best) prime minister in the history of Great Britain actually does die, the knives come out.
On hearing the news of the death of Margaret Thatcher (news which apparently reached the White House slower than did the news of the death of professional movie-watcher Roger Ebert), liberals took to celebrating online.
One of the top trending topics on Twitter yesterday was #DingDongTheWickedWitchIsDead, though in all fairness, most of the ones tweeting it were youngsters who weren’t old enough to have even been alive or otherwise self-aware during Thatcher’s time in office. But it’s hip to bash the old dead woman in the blue suit jacket with giant shoulder pads. Her passing even calls for street festivities!
Thankfully, President Obama was decent enough to put his name at the end of a kind statement written by someone else at the White House on Thatcher’s death. It came a little late, though, like at around 2:15 in the afternoon, presumably when Obama was just getting out of bed and was awake enough to approve the statement before its official release.
Liberals, feeling betrayed by their fellow rabble-rouser in the White House for his respectable, classy statement, took to bashing Obama next. Such bashing included but was not limited to the following words (censored only here):
- “Oh f*** off.”
- “Obama f*** off.”
- “F*** off with that crap now.”
- “[W]hat a massive c**t [Obama] is….”
Kelly Osbourne, daughter of Ozzy, also got some hate when she expressed her sadness on Twitter over Thatcher’s death.
Liberals even took the opportunity to let the world know they wish President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney would die next.
The Associated Press and CNN, worried that someone might confuse them for fair-minded news organizations, wanted to release some partisan obituaries of their own.
In the AP’s write-up of Thatcher’s life and death, such words were used as “intimidating,” “imposed her will,” and “In deciding on war, Thatcher overruled Foreign Office specialists who warned her about the dangers of striking back,” while last month, when Venezuela’s dictator Hugo Chavez died, the same news organization described him as a “revolutionary” who “challenged the status quo” and “electrified crowds.” (The above links for Thatcher’s and Chavez’s deaths are from Politico and The Huffington Post respectively, but the articles themselves are from the AP.)
CNN ran a montage of photos of Thatcher, and one of those photos included her hanging out with Jimmy Savile, who, it was recently made public, was accused of molesting hundreds of children. Probably no agenda in CNN’s showing him with Thatcher, though, because, after all, their tribute to the Iron Lady would not have been complete without that photo of ol’ reach-around Jimmy.
Now, conservatives do sometimes celebrate famous deaths as well, but it’s always the deaths of actual tyrants, not the sort of tyrant liberals claim Thatcher was. I’m talking about Hugo Chavez, Osama bin Laden—you know, dictators and killers, the guys liberals either mourn the deaths of or about whom they lecture, “Now, now, it’s not nice to celebrate his death. We need a new tone of civility in this country.”
What we need is a reformed, accurate sense of what civility actually means. Hint: it’s not what has been dished out to Margaret Thatcher.
“Every person processes and embodies their tradition in an original and organic way that is complex and embedded in the person's experience of joy and suffering; loss and loves. When talking about religion we are always treading on delicate and intensely personal ground and an authentic religious conversation involves listening more than speaking in order to fully understand and appreciate another person's religious background.”—
—Paul Raushenbush, the wise and elegant editor of Huffington Post Religion, has just written an outstanding piece on the art and work of bringing religious ideas and difference into our public spheres. It’s sentences like the quotation above that deserve slow reading and pondering.
He then applies this thinking to what happens to religion in politics and in political lives, weaving in some astute observations from former Senator John Danforth. When I spoke with Danforth several years ago, he gave me much to think about. He has lived this line of faith and politics in an especially robust way.
by Krista Tippett, host