Sticks and stones, softly
I hope I’ll never utter sexist slurs against Kellyanne Conway or send death threats to Indiana Congressman Luke Messer, and I won’t bother to take up the free-speech sword on behalf of those who do.
At the same time, though, I don’t much feel much like joining the chorus of mainstream folks, liberal and conservative, who’ve themselves embraced the right-wing umbrage over these latest episodes of nastiness toward men and women in power who wield infinitely more harm than they face.
What is this impulse, particularly within liberals, to police the civic debate for level of civility even when confronted with a ruling agenda that has ceased to pretend to be anything but uncivil? Do we think Donald Trump or Paul Ryan, or Jason Chaffetz or Steve Bannon, or Kellyanne or Luke, is listening when we send our best wishes along with our wish list?
Outrage over personal insults, not to mention threats, is certainly apt. But let’s have some perspective. Conway makes lots of money telling lies for the Misogynist-in-Chief. Messer gleefully supports the revoking of health insurance from millions of poor Americans — an act that threatens life. I didn’t hear her denounce Trump’s gross anatomical violation of Megyn Kelly, or him condemn the lynching effigies that sprouted in anti-Obama country.
But enough of this tit-for-tat. I’m the first to admit I’ve engaged in too much of it. I agree it would be so nice to break the cycle of verbal violence once and for all. Somehow, though, the ones doing both the real and rhetorical carpet-bombing don’t seem disposed to bilateral disarmament. Perhaps we shouldn’t spend a whole lot of our limited weaponry defending them.