Kathleen Parker, without the slightest hint of irony, laments the incivility of our current discourse. She concedes that the history of American political debate is rife with incivility, but contends that the tone of debate is at an all-time low. Of course, somebody of the self-assumed stature of Ms. Parker does not levy such an accusation without a culprit in mind—bloggers, of course.
Most crucial in the viral growth of incivility are new media – the Internet, the blogosphere and all the social applications, from Facebook to Twitter, and whatever else may have developed since I began typing this page.
I do not suggest that Ms. Parker is incorrect, just insincere. After all, Kathleen Parker is the same columnist who referred to the religious conservatives as “the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP” and suggested that “the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows.” Parker also infamously suggested that Sarah Palin overwhelmed a doddering McCain with sex appeal to secure the veep nod. The previous statements might lead one to question Ms. Parker’s commitment to the cause she now champions.
Far be it from me to question a convert’s heart, but Parker may need a few more visits to “Civility Anonymous” meetings before she is completely on the wagon. In her article Parker, right after weeping over the incivility bloggers have foisted upon an otherwise respectful and illuminating political debate, breaks free of the shackles of consistency by comparing Glenn Beck to Roman purveyors of death as entertainment.
The real challenge for the civility-minded is that incivility is more exciting. Human beings are drawn to spectacle, as the bookers of Rome’s Colosseum understood. Glenn Beck is proof of the constancy of human nature.
I suppose that in Parker’s mind (a potential oxymoron), incivility in the name of civility is no vice. As mentioned, the introspection-free world of a left-leaning columnist must be a nice place to live.
For my part I judge civility to be a fine thing, but like all good things, done only in moderation.