Courtesy or lack thereof

people and relationships, politics, society

Sometimes I’m really embarrassed to be a Democrat.

While I abhor much of the ideologies (or at least practiced ideologies) of the Right, I’m similarly distressed when those on the Left abandon all pretenses of civility and courtesy through their consistent heckling of those espousing contrary viewpoints.

I think back to my college days, when it was a common yet-still-disgusting occurrence to have conservative speakers booed and yelled at mid-speech by liberal protesters. I was particularly ashamed, because I knew of no similar instances of liberal guests being treated with such disrespect by conservative students.

As most of us sadly realize, angry and impetuous liberals don’t miraculously mature after their heady pot-smoking college days. As fellow blogger Matt lamented recently, Colin Powell was soundly booed by protesters at the World Summit in South Africa.

Like Matt, I make no pretenses about supporting the viewpoints of Mr. Powell, and I sure as hell don’t like our current President or his idiotic and damaging policies.

However, I feel that common human civility compels — or should compel — people to let others speak their mind. I also believe that it is through respectful dialogue that we learn about ourselves and the world around us, whether such learning challenges or solidifies our current beliefs.

How embarrassing and sad it is, then, that even at our most venerable institutions of learning such as Harvard and Northwestern University, even heads of state are unable to speak to an assembly without being screamed at.

Are these liberals so fearful that their viewpoints cannot be effectively communicated before, after, or in a different place concurrently with those ideas they rail against? Cannot their beliefs stand the scrutiny of rational and polite discussion?

Matt argues that civility is now just a “pipe dream” and “about as foreign an idea as a politician with integrity.” But somehow it seems that the greatest loss of respect is highlighted by my fellow liberals.

I wish I knew why this was. And more importantly, I wish I could put an end to the nasty behavior.

10 comments… add one
  • Harald Sep 9, 2002

    That’s the problem with that two-party system; you have to choose between ‘bad’ and ‘worse’. We, on the other hand, get to choose between ‘bad’, ‘worse’, ‘even worse’ and ‘totally ridiculous’.

  • Harald Sep 9, 2002

    I don’t want to start a ‘he started it – no, he did!’-kind of discussion, but the fact that it was Colin Powell standing there instead of GWB could also be seen as disrespectful.

  • Adam Sep 9, 2002

    I absolutely agree with you.  But all the more reason to post nasty editorial about the Shrub rather than heckle Mr. Powell, who probably was equally embarrassed to be there in his Commander in Chief’s place.

  • Harald Sep 9, 2002

    Maybe it has to do with my domino theory. If a big organisation does you wrong, you often can’t get to the source of that problem. Instead you get mad at someone you can reach, hoping that they get annoyed by all these angry customers and take it to the cause.

  • Matt Hendrickson Sep 9, 2002

    Unfortunately, that idea rarely ever works, Harald. While it may feel good to get mad, act rude, and blow off steam, it usually alienates the people you are trying to convince.

    Case in point, if I were to protest a speeding ticket in court, which of the following strategies would be more effective: a thoughtful, concise, rational statement stating my grievences; or calling the judge, prosecutor, and police a bunch of Nazis and throwing paint at the jury?

    Fact is, Harald, its not just the people that are protested against that is influenced, but also the “general public.” I can’t tell you how many times I have had negative opinions about environmental programs because of some of the ridiculous, childish behaviors I’ve seen them involved in. That doesn’t make me anti-environment, but it sure doesn’t help convince me of the need to do more to help Mother Nature.

    But the worst part is with many of these groups (as well as groups in other causes), the general consensus is “Our way is the right way, and if you don’t agree with us completely and totally, you are one of the enemy.”

    Excuse me? You mean to say that I can’t consider some of the arguements from both sides and formulate my own ideas? Even if they might lead to a consensus that makes everyone happy? And if I have an original idea and express that idea, or show critcism for their ideas, I’m automatically worse than Osama Bin Laden? UFF-DA! That’s not free speech, that’s THOUGHT POLICE!

    By the way, I’m not against the environment. I like Ducks Unlimited. You can find that some of the biggest supporters of the environment are your everyday sportsmen. Yes, they like to shoot Donald and Bambi, but they also care about preserving forests and wetlands, and carrying out responsible hunting. And they don’t need to throw paint at anyone or boo them to do it, either!

  • Matt Hendrickson Sep 9, 2002

    WOW! I actually inspired an article on Adam’s blog! I’m so tickled, I could bust my buttons!

    BTW, I consider myself neither a liberal nor a conservative. I’m a moderate. Hey, that’s a good idea for an article!

  • Matt Hendrickson Sep 9, 2002

    WOW! I actually inspired an article on Adam’s blog! I’m so tickled, I could bust my buttons!

    BTW, I consider myself neither a liberal nor a conservative. I’m a moderate. Hey, that’s a good idea for an article!

  • Harald Sep 10, 2002

    Actually, i’ve only tried that theory once. It worked, but i have to mention that it was supported by a lot of diplomatic pressure, gossip and charm.

    🙂

  • Harald Sep 10, 2002

    Maybe it’s just a lack of insight in PR, trying to get attention and getting it, but the wrong kind. Incompetence is an underestimated factor in many things.

  • Bruce Sep 23, 2002

    Being neither a hunter nor a fisherman, I have to agree that many of the left organizations like PETA are extremists and are even against re-introducing species like the ringneck pheshants (which were once abundant) back to NY simply because someone may eventually hunt them. they fought in MASS to prevent wildlife from being managed by biologists, instead preferring it to be controlled by politicans.
    what this led to is bear populations that are not only a danger to themselves as diseases are now rampant, but also to many people as these now have to live in neigborhood trees and eat out of dumpsters and garbage cans. over 110 have been hit by cars in NJ alone last year.

    Extremism is something

What do you think?