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Tuesday, 31 May 2005

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Clark Goble

I wonder if part of it isn't also the groundwork set in the 60's - 80's. The conservative movement was framed by thoughtful and reasoned debate with shows like William Buckley's Firing Line. The liberal movement was framed by protests. From the various union movements of the 20's with their riots to the civil rights movement of the 60's. (Not that conservatives weren't also involved in the civil rights movement - just that conservatives don't look at the protests as something innately ennobling - more pragmatically useful.) Now things are changing. Not only are the there really annoying Coulter and Savage, but Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly all have belittled the rhetorical form of the conservative movement. (Oh for there to be an other Firing Line) Of course I think, in part, conservatives were trying to take up some of the methods of liberals. And, in part, it simply was due to not having mainstream outlets, so a kind of populism ensued from marginal media. The niche demanded the form. However now that there are more mainstream outlets, it is unfortunate that they've embraced a form of populism so modeled on the liberal populism and protests of the 20's through 70's. I think as a movement we've gone astray in terms of civility. More particular in terms of argumentation. (Let's be honest - rational argument isn't always the aim of populism)

Bill Vallicella

Excellent comments. "(Not that conservatives weren't also involved in the civil rights movement - just that conservatives don't look at the protests as something innately ennobling - more pragmatically useful.)" Exactly right. Charlton Heston is a prime example. Limbaugh's brilliant stroke was to turn the tables on liberals. Conservatives are supposed to be grim and humorless. Limbaugh was and perhaps is (I haven't listened for a long while) funny as hell. Now it is people like Franken who are grim and humorless by comparison. Part of the problem, of course, is that the average guy after a hard day at work is not in the mood for reasoned discourse that demands a lot of attention. He wants something quicker and more entertaining. So O'Reilly throws in a sizeable admixture of female flesh and other stuff between the more substantial segments. If I had O'Reilly's ear, I'd say: Look man, you've made your mark, you are king of the hill, now raise the bar! Not one word about Michael Jackson! And I don't want to hear any bullshit about how that is news and you have to report it. The news is not so much reported as selected. I'll leave it to leftists to say that the news is created.

Franklin Mason

I take myself to be a liberal of a certain sort. But I do value civility highly. The reason is not a respect for the way things have been done in the past but rather a respect for my interlocutors. The mere fact that such and such was done in the past is by itself no reason to continue the practice into the future. Conservatism that seeks merely to retain past forms of thought and behaviour merely b/c they constitute the tradition out of which we were formed has little to recommend it. Civility, like all other behavior, must flow from fixed moral principle if it is to receive its proper justification; and I can think of no reason why a liberal cannot just as much make appeal to moral principle here as can a conservative.

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