The media and political activists from left to right are clamoring once again to bring back civility to the national dialogue.
I’m all for it.
But I think we have to do more than just say it.
There needs to be a mechanism for implementing it.
And I think I have one.
But, first, let me tell you about some of my own observations about the growing intolerance of opinions outside the accepted boundaries of elitist establishment thinking – because I am a target of it from both the left and the right and the mushy media middle.
I told you previously about the Huffington Post columnist pleading for civility in a column in which he labeled WND a “white supremacist” company. Is there a more unfair, untrue, inflammatory, incendiary label you could place as a target on an individual or group than “white supremacist”? I doubt it.
I’ve also been mischaracterized as a “racist” because I insist on public disclosure of Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
I’ve been called an “Islamophobe” because I’ve called attention to the powerful, well-funded and well-documented efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood to undermine the U.S. Constitution in favor of Shariah law.
I’ve been called a “homophobe” because of my adamant campaigns against the wacky notion of same-sex marriage and special privileges for people based on their sexual behavior.
I’ve been called a “phony Christian” and a “publicity whore” for taking a principled, biblical stand that homosexual conduct is a sin.
And, most recently, my news agency has been labeled “WorldNutDaily” by none other than Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto, whom I first met when he served as an intern at a New York city newspaper that employed me as a featured columnist some two dozen years ago.
I confronted Taranto on this last slur in a friendly, non-confrontational e-mail: “Since the unflattering reference to my news agency has gone uncorrected for several days, I have to assume it is intentional. Would you care to explain why?”
His response: “It’s one of several similar running gags in my column – Puffington Host, MediaMutters. I will drop it if you stop with the birther nonsense! Cheers, James.”
There you have it. Left, right, middle.
Everybody’s got their ax to grind. Everyone’s got an excuse for incivility.
All’s fair in love and politics, apparently.
No matter how you attempt to appeal to reason in our society, there are certain people who will smear you for simple matters of disagreement.
I note that Taranto doesn’t label Rush Limbaugh as a “nut” because he raises the same questions about Barack Obama’s eligibility issue that I raise, with perhaps a little less enthusiasm.
That’s only because Rush Limbaugh carries a bigger sword than I do.
Taranto’s column wouldn’t last a day and a half at the Wall Street Journal if he took that kind of swipe against Rush. But he figures I’m a safe target.
So if this matter of incivility is about swordsmanship, here’s my idea for dealing with it.
Let’s do what they did in the era of our Founding Fathers. Let’s bring back honor and the necessity for civil discourse by reinstating the duel.
I’m not talking about dueling words. I’m talking about stepping up to defend one’s honor with your life. That would certainly provide a deterrent for more reckless and irresponsible fighting words.
The suggestion actually comes from one of my readers who made the point more elegantly than I can: “Back a century or two ago, people wouldn’t dare insult a man, lie about his honor or besmirch his name. With the chance of getting your lying head blown off people were a heck of a lot more careful about whom they insulted with no facts or reason. Personally, I wouldn’t like to shoot anybody, not even evil liars who hate someone simply because they try to be good in their lives and make them feel guilty just by existing. Anyhow, it would make a darn good deterrent to those who attack other people’s good name.”
I don’t have much experience with swordsmanship. But I am a pretty good shot.
“I demand satisfaction. Do you have any seconds?”
I imagine there would be quite a few second thoughts if there were actual consequences for incivility.