Phi Beta Cons

The Civility Joke

How wonderful it must be to feel the self-righteousness glow that one gets by calling for civility while — at the same time — implicitly accusing your fellow citizens of inciting murder. Leave it to the Left to create an entirely new form of political discourse: vicious civility.

My thoughts? Civility is overrated. We wring our hands entirely too much about the tone of modern discourse — and the hand-wringing is often so transparently disingenuous. I try very hard to treat others the way I’d like to be treated, but when confronting evil and depravity there are ample biblical examples of “extreme” rhetoric. 

There’s a world of difference between angry words and violence, or even between angry words and violating another person’s legal rights. Given the choice between a polite administrator imposing a speech code or an angry confrontation in the quad, I’ll take the shouting match every time. Anger and vitriol can be self-defeating, but it can also be motivating and sometimes even inspiring. Simply put, context matters, and sometimes great injustices require a strong response.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular


Jussie Smollett Changes His Story Again

The actor Jussie Smollett continues to talk about the alleged January 29 attack on him during a frigid night in Chicago, giving Good Morning America his fullest description yet of his claims. It differs substantially from what he told police initially after the alleged assault. Smollett told GMA that the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

We’ll Regret This

Mitch McConnell says the president will sign the budget deal and he will also declare a national emergency to build the wall, as I expected. We’ll see the legal justifications he uses, but as a political and constitutional matter this is a long-term disaster. Oh, it might be good for Trump according to the ... Read More