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susan herbst

Rude Democracy, Jon Stewart, Your Face

“Do we want more civil talk than uncivil talk?” she asks. “Of course. But what we need to focus on is how both civility and incivility are structured, contained, and used… Even some incivility can move a policy debate along. Creating a culture of argument, and the thick skin that goes along with it, are long-term projects that will serve democracy well.”

Scott McLemee looks at Susan Herbst’s book Rude Democracy: Civility and Incivility in American Politics and comes away with a great justification for Mean Week (in case anyone needed one). Addressing the Jon Stewart rally thing, McLemee argues, “the anti-ideological spirit of the event is a dead end. The attitude that it’s better to stay cool and amused than to risk making arguments or expressing too much ardor — this is not civility. It’s timidity.”

I’ll always argue that it’s possible to disagree nicely, but I also liked the quote McLemee ended his article with, from T-Bone Slim: “Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.” Impolite rhetoric has its place, why not. But in a comment box? Y’all’re morons.

Mean / 16 Comments
October 29th, 2010 / 11:48 am