Monday, June 19, 2017

Incivility; words or deeds?

We are hearing a lot these days about the lack of civility in contemporary politics.

The context is usually about the incivility in our discourse.

I would suggest that we expand the conversation in Wisconsin beyond words to an assessment of actions.

Civil or uncivil to:

*  Tolerate long-standing nitrate and fecal contamination in rural drinking water?

*  Restrict voting rights and ballot box access through partisan law-making?

*  Mandate drug-tests on low-income Wisconsinites prior to their obtaining public assistance for which they quality, presuming their substance abuse, perhaps even with illegal drugs?

*  Help a mining company win legislative approval for a massive open-pit mine that would have dynamited, clear-cut and otherwise contaminated the Bad River watershed and the Bad River Ojibwe band's lands and water, and put into play their secret campaign funds, to boot?

*  Cut and limit food aid and other forms of assistance, and raise taxes, on some low-income Wisconsin residents.

* And, nationally, repeatedly work to throw 20-24 million Americans off their health insurance?

Civll or uncivil?

Reminds me of Woody Guthrie's observation about being robbed at gun point or by the words on a piece of paper.

Same difference, no?

Feel free to suggest others.

1 comment:

Man MKE said...

Jim, you have put your touch on something important, here. I tire of the often recurring Scott Walker explanation that his each succeeding policy atrocity is a "common-sense reform." That's his way of invoking a magic talisman against criticism. However, the Walkerish descriptives are often like Kellogg's Corn Pops, mostly air and not very nutritious. At most you get a brief sugar high, and then you're depressed.

The written word, speech, and even art must at times be uncivil as their makers seek to draw attention to the horrible policies, views, and deeds of others. Uncivil speech is protected speech, not to be lumped in with hate speech, libel, and slander.

Insisting that public speech always be nicey-nice is just a re-framing trap. "Respectful" and "polite" are not helpful on any figurative battlefield when the other side is lobbing heavy and often coarse rhetoric and more so instituting actually troublesome programs and policies. Incivility is especially warranted when aimed at poorly conceived ideas and bad deeds. It doesn't have to be about attacking a person -- although at some point, that, too, may be warranted, as is frequently the case with respect to No. 45.