Civil Servants

Is there some kind of meta virus going around lately? First there was this whole stupid brouhaha on Kos about people rating other people things and how it meant they were bad liberals or something, and now this “oooh, everybody’s mean to Wonkette.” Seriously, what the fuck?

Steve points out something I think is interesting:

Civility is more than politeness, it is defending your prinicples when they are attacked in a way consistent with them. An agressive defense is a civil response. When someone sweep a broad brush over people who support and defend you, it is not only uncivil, but cowardly to not respond in defense.

When Mr. A and I first got married we had a rule. We argued all the time but rarely fought. And the difference was this: an argument is, “I think you’re wrong and here’s why.” A fight is, “I think you’re wrong because you’re an asshole.”

What I think a lot of the Kool Kidz are taken aback by in the blogosphere is passionate argument. I don’t think it’s the cussing and I don’t think it’s sexual innuendo and I don’t think it’s so-called “irresponsiblity” or whatever. I think they’re honestly surprised by people being as worked up as they are about something as boring as, you know, issues, man.

We saw this over and over with lil’ Debbie Howell asking how people dared attack her. Jeffrey Dvorkin over at NPR has carved out a tidy little career being condescending and nasty to listeners who actually give enough of a shit to send him an e-mail. They simply cannot believe people have the nerve to not just write them a dry little couplet but to actually get upset over something. To take politics personally. How … old-fashioned. They have no framework to process people who are as informed and as engaged as they are, actually asking them questions to which they might have to think to come up with the answers.

I’ve said this for a long time, that hard-news journalists are not the ones threatened by bloggers, that pundits and columnists are. Look at how bloodless much of political commentary has become. Charles Krauthammer opines from a comfortable position among the powerful, as does Richard Cohen, Joel Klein and now Miss Ana Marie. Nobody’s got any skin in the game, so they never raise their voices loud enough to make anybody else at the party uncomfortable. We do. We yell and scream and bicker and they call it uncouth when what it really is is exactly what it should be: red-blooded mudfighting over the people and policies that shape our lives and determine the fate of our national soul. We get excited about stuff, and they react in one of two ways: to make fun of our depth of committment and level of caring, and to deplore our temerity in speaking out against the most uncivil administration in our nation’s history.

We’re having an argument. They’re having a fight. It’s pathetic.

A.