Friday, March 10, 2006
ColoradoPols - Alas, A Paucity of Civility
One of my links, ColoradoPols, purports to provide the inside track on the behind-the-scenes machinations of Colorado politics and politicians which, I do believe, it successfully accomplishes to one extent or another. The site endeavors to provide the latest Colorado political news, gossip and, sometimes outright baloney that seems to erupt daily from our beautiful state's politicians and wingnuts--left and right. Suffice it to say, the site provides a forum for the supposedly "inside track" political hacks, office holders, bureaucrats, petty functionaries, wannabe big shots, journalists, to post on any given "political" topic that is highlighted or raised in conversation by those posting. It is important to note that probably 99% of those who post on the site, do so anonymously.
I am one of the few posters on the site who has never posted anonymously. I have no reason to post anonymously. Admittedly, some posters on the site need to protect their identity. Or, do they? Why? If they have the courage of their convictions, why post anonymously. But, then, that's another discussion for another time.
All you rightwing, corncob-up-the-ass conservative (probably evangelical) wingnuts may put your hands over your ears for a moment.
Richard Dreyfuss (I know: Lefty, Commie, Pinko-fairy, Hollywood harpie), who addressed the Washington Press Corps recently, said something that caught my attention and got me to thinking about a couple of things, notably ColoradoPols. I'm paraphrasing here, but Dreyfuss said something to the effect that civility is the oxygen of democracy. If we have no civility in our discourse, then there is no democracy; there is no opportunity for the other side to be heard or for their notions, their polemic to be considered.
Okay, rightwing, come on back.
I used to post often on ColoradoPols. At the point where I actually contributed a post in which I called some ignoble son-of-a-bitch a "dick," was almost precisely the same moment I happened to turn the mute button off and caught the CSPAN broadcast of Dreyfuss's speech in which he spoke about civility, among other things, including (close your ears again, righties!), the necessity to impeach George W. Bush.
Usually the post strings on ColoradoPols will begin civilly enough but, let me damn sure guarantee you, that the posts generally degenerate into what, I do believe, anonymity encourages on sites like this: the mad-doggedness aggressiveness of intemperate, crude, bullying, rude put-downs and castigations, threats and epithets, recriminations and rebukes.
Um, now that I think about it, what I've shared in the above paragraph sounds a little like the state of American politics these days. The national polemic--the culture war, the polarization extant in this country today-- is as sickenly palpable as a neglected goiter on the neck of a seriously engaged sufferer of thyroid dysfunction. Those are nasty lookin' growths, ya'll.
Curiously, something else always seems to surface on the post strings on ColoradoPols. Pretty much, no matter what happens to be the subject of the post, the most prolific participants (posters) on the site feel the need, the urge, perhaps the responsibility to suggest that if you ain't served your country under combat sit'ations, ya'll, then your thoughts, your reasoning, your argument ain't worth the shit it was delivered on. (I'm thinking now about something Willie Nelson said in his little ditty, "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (fond of each other") but I won't bring that up here. )
Well, anyway, I've stayed away from posting on ColoradoPols for a while. I guess I was shocked to have actually published a post that called some anonymous presence, a "dick."
I still enjoy reading the posts on the site and I do, occasionally offer my thoughts. (Archbishop Chaput and the Hick are two hot buttons that I can't seem to avoid commenting on.)
But, what about civility? Would the site be less, oh, popular if those who posted were civil to one another? I doubt it. I guess part of the allure of the site is the reflection of the fucking mess this country is in -- Thanks, Dubya! -- which is reflected each and every day, on each and every string that appears on the site.
"Civility is the oxygen of democracy." Hmmm.... I still think those are good words.