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.

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