Blog Etiquette — A Follow-Up

Earlier today I published a post about free speech and how it is so often being abused by those too rude or ignorant to treat people with a modicum of respect.  In response to my post, I had two rude comments from my old friend Scott (sklawlor), not unexpectedly.  Last week, I asked Scott to please do us both a favour and stop reading my blog.  I warned that if he continued, I would censor or ban his comments.  Well, he continued, and as I mulled over whether to completely ban him or simply send all his future comments to moderation, I noticed a comment from another reader, Professor Taboo, with a link to his post of December 2019 about “appropriate censorship of bigoted non-sensical comments here by indecent comments by indecent, childish Commenters”.  In his post, which I encourage each of you to read, the Prof suggests a list of nine “Rules of Conduct” for bloggers and commenters, and in his comment, he suggests that it would, at this point, be perfectly reasonable for me to censor the commenter who cannot control his rudeness, who cannot seem to speak intelligently and respectfully.

I have picked up a few haters from time to time, one who even threatened to find me and kill me, but never has one been as persistent as Scott.  At this time, I have decided to take Professor Taboo’s sage advice and moderate all comments from the person who has basically violated all nine rules of conduct!  As I am not a government entity, but merely a blogger, I am well within my rights to do so, just as Twitter was within its rights to ban the former guy and others.  If I followed the ‘three strikes’ rule, this person would have been censored long before now.

I will leave Scott’s comments from this morning alone, but future comments will not be welcomed nor published unless or until he learns that all-important word, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”.  Thank you, Professor Taboo, for helping and advising!  And thank you, dear readers, for your patience as I have allowed this to go on for far too long.

REFLECT UPON THIS: What The World Needs Now… Respect @RRBC_Org @RRBC_RWISA @Tweets4RWISA @JohnJFioravanti @NonnieJules #Quotes

Our friend John Fioravanti hasn’t posted for quite a while, but when he did yesterday, it was a post worthy of being shared far and wide. John is kinder than I am, but his words resonate with me, as I believe they will with you. His post is moving and thought-provoking, worthy of some deep thought about how we, as humans, can do better. Thank you, John!

Fiora Books by John Fioravanti

“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.”

~ Barack Obama

Barak Obama head shot

As a retired secondary school educator, I am a firm believer in lifelong learning, and it need not take place in a formal classroom. Today, the Internet allows anyone who is curious to discover information and analysis about any topic they can imagine. It is in the context of the lifelong learner that I wish to reflect on President Barack Obama’s words quoted above from his final State of the Union Address on January 12, 2016.

In my study of history, I realize that human progress does not occur in a linear pattern…

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Kind Hearted Challenge – August Edition

We all know how, of late, kindness, respect, compassion, and the like seem to have gone by the wayside, right. Last night, a blogging friend shared a blog titled “Cyranny’s Cove”, and specifically the post I am about to share. I love the concept … one act of kindness a month. That isn’t too hard, is it? What if everybody in the world followed this … tried hard to bring ‘kindness’ back into our society? Anyway, take a look if you will, and let’s help Cyranny spread the word, okay?

Cyranny's Cove


Happy first day of August, Lovelies!

As you might know, I have been waiting for a while to post this, and I am quite excited to finally launch this new, monthly Kind Hearted Challenge!

What is the Kind Hearted Challenge about?

It is really simple… First of all, it is not a challenge per se, but more an invitation to take a moment and think about doing kind things around you. You don’t have to participate every month, and if you join in, you have all month to complete your mission.

I think that spreading the word out is the best way to get at least a couple of people to think “You know what? That’s really easy, I think I’ll give it a try!” There are so many free, easy acts of kindness that we can do in our everyday life… Things to make other people around us…

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PLEASE — More Respect, Less Hate

No matter which side of the partisan divide you are on, which side of the Trump coin you prefer, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that the two years of the Trump presidency has been the most divisive of any in the history of this nation, perhaps with the exception of the Civil War era, but I’m not even certain of that.  It has absolutely been the most divisive in my lifetime and that of anyone reading this post.

This post is not about Donald Trump … I have made my feelings about him clear in enough other posts … but rather it is about the hatred and divisiveness that people on both sides of the equation are engaging in and that is leading us down a path of destruction.  What brought this about and why now, considering that I have written no less than six past posts with the word “Respect” in the title?  A number of things, but it began with this headline …

High school basketball team pulls out of game after controversy over fans with Trump sign

It happened last week in Minnesota, where the Roosevelt High School basketball team visited Jordan High School for a game.  Roosevelt players are predominantly black, while Jordan players are predominantly white, and Jordan fans decided to fly this flag …trump flagIt’s high school, folks!  High school sports, for Pete’s sake!  Granted, some of these young people will be able to vote in the next election, and it’s a good thing for them to study civics, to learn about our government and the people in it, but it is not a good thing for them to bring political icons into high school sporting events.  The upshot is that now, Jordan High School has canceled yesterday’s scheduled game against Patrick Henry High School for one of two stated reasons: a) they feared something might happen to their players in retaliation for the flag incident, or b) the team did not want its presence at the event “to detract from the athletes”.  Whichever reason, it does not matter … what matters is that sports is supposed to teach young people sportsmanship, teamwork, cooperation … it is supposed to bring positive things into kids’ lives, not hate, not racism and bigotry.

What’s next … kindergarten kids wearing those red hats and beating up other kids because they look different?

Here are two examples I found on Education Week’s website:

  • Three swastikas were scrawled on the note found in the girls’ restroom, along with a homophobic comment and a declaration: “I Love Trump.”
  • Found inside the backpack of a Latina student, a note that said: Go back to Mexico.

These incidents took place at Council Rock High School in a predominately white suburb of Philadelphia.

Education Week and others have partnered with non-profit news organization ProPublica in a project called Documenting Hate, in an attempt to understand how hate, intolerance, and bias are affecting school climate and impacting students and their educators.  Take a look at some of the incidents they have reported on … I think you will be appalled.

No matter whether you love him or hate him, nobody can deny that Trump’s rhetoric and policies have been laden with bigotry … xenophobic, racist, homophobic and misogynist.  BUT … that does not give any of us the right to act upon his rhetoric.  Freedom of Speech is one of the core principles guiding our society, our lives, but as with any and every right, it comes with responsibility.  When we ignore the responsibility, then we risk losing the right … it’s that simple.

So, you have the right to march in peaceful protest, but you do not have the right to call the police on somebody swimming in the pool at your apartment complex just because their skin is darker than yours.  You do not have the right to yell racial slurs at people in public. That is bigotry.  You have the right to attend a Trump rally … or a Clinton rally … and wear whichever hat or shirt you deem appropriate, but if you wear that hat to a bar, a sporting event or the grocery store, you are doing it only to annoy those who don’t agree with you, and you do not have that right.

beliefsYou have the right to raise your children in whatever faith you choose, but you do not have the right to teach them to hate those who don’t believe as you do.  You have a right to support Donald Trump, but you do not have the right to make obscene gestures and utter hate speech in front of national television cameras.  It all boils down to one simple word that apparently too many people in this nation have forgotten: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  Write me off as a friend if you wish, but do not threaten my life.

flesh-crayonsAnd most of all, folks of both parties, please do not teach your children to hate.  Teach them to accept and tolerate everyone, regardless of skin colour, race, religion, gender, gender identification, ethnicity or party affiliation.  If you cannot tolerate someone, then stay away, leave them alone … you do not have the right to hate and hurt others and you do not have the right to turn your children into hate-mongering little people.

On Trust …

On Christmas Eve, Trump tweeted …Trump-tweet.pngThe reactions from ‘round the globe told the true story …

Definitiv nicht! Grüße aus Deutschland! (Translation:  Definitely not!  Greetings from Germany)


By whom?

Hahaha that was so funny with a baby president can never be respected

Ha ha, Na mate you are mistaken!

As an European, I assure you it is not

Only when the all caps unstable President is gone.

Australia says nope.

Really?  Did you resign?

Hi.  Ireland here.  Nope.

America will not be respected as long as Trump is in office. Resign.

And many more … 68,000+ comments, in fact, and as far as I could tell (obviously I did not read all 68,000!) not a single one was positive.  While I could pick Trump’s two years apart and come up with hundreds, perhaps even thousands of reasons why Trump has, in fact, cost us the respect we may have once had, in the long run it all boils down to one single word:, along with respect, is the single most important element of any relationship, whether it is husband/wife, parent/child, friends, or on a grander scale leader/citizens.  Without trust, a marriage will crumble, and by the same token a nation will fail if the people cannot trust their leader and if other nations cannot trust the one.  The people of the United States cannot trust Donald Trump, nor those politicians who, elected to represent us are in fact acting in a manner contrary to our best interest.

Donald Trump has broken our trust in every conceivable way.  It’s quite an accomplishment, really, that he has not once told us the truth, has not once acted in the best interests of our nation, of our citizens, of our allies.  The odds were that he would accidentally do something right, make a true statement, somewhere along the line during his two-year tenure, but he defied the odds.

It is a terrible thing when the citizens of a country cannot trust an elected leader, and perhaps an even worse thing when no nation on earth trusts this country.  Think about that one … we have let our allies down in a number of ways, and Trump has talked down to and denigrated the leaders of many of the nations who were once our trusted friends:  Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, UK.  He allies himself, instead, with nations that we should never turn our back on:  Russia and Turkey.

Trust.  It is earned.  Or not.  Trust can take years to be built and strengthened and can be destroyed by sometimes a single lie.  How many lies has Trump told?  Last I heard, based on a couple of different fact-checkers, he had misled or outright lied to the American people more than 5,000 times … in under two years!  Must be some sort of a record.

Today, a large part of the government is shut down because Trump lied about his “big, beautiful wall” that “Mexico will pay for”.  Those of us who are capable of coherent thought knew that Mexico was never going to pay for the wall, but Trump kept saying it and his followers kept believing.  And now, he is asking us to pay for the wall that most of us do not want and for which there is no need.

Trust.  It is so easily broken.  Trump broke the trust of our allies when he announced he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris Accord.  He further broke their trust when he failed to renew the Iran nuclear agreement.  He has denigrated our allies and NATO.  And now … he is pulling out of Syria and Afghanistan in a move that will further de-stabilize the Middle East and leave our allies to try to keep the peace.

No.  America is not “respected again”.  We have less respect now than … perhaps ever in the history of our nation.  We broke the trust of the rest of the world, and Trump has broken our trust.

“The glue that holds all relationships together–including the relationship between the leader and the led–is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” –Brian Tracy

“Leadership requires five ingredients–brains, energy, determination, trust, and ethics. The key challenges today are in terms of the last two–trust and ethics.” –Fred Hilmer

A Dying Breed … George H.W. Bush

Yesterday, a man of respect died.  George Herbert Walker Bush died at age 94, just a few months after the death of his wife and soul-mate, Barbara.  I have never ascribed to a conservative or Republican ideology, and thus I often disagreed with many of Bush’s policies.  But I always respected the man.  George Bush was a good man, a man of dignity and compassion, a man who cared about this nation and the people who live in it, Republicans and Democrats alike.

George H.W. Bush was among the last of a dying breed.

5 living presidents

Left to right:  George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter

Until Friday, there were five living former-presidents, the men pictured above.  Each and every one of those men both gave and earned respect.  None were perfect, all made mistakes, but their hearts were in the right place and they unfailingly acted in what they believed was the best interest of this nation and its people.  Not a single one of these men put their own business interests ahead of the interests of the people they were to represent.  Not a single one of these men were so arrogant that they believed themselves better, more intelligent, or more important than any one of us.  They understood that they worked for us, rather than the other way around.

These men were thinkers.  They did not scream or rant in order to get their point across.  They were men of dignity, men of courage, men of respect.  Interesting word, ‘respect’.  True respect is earned, not given lightly.  George H.W. Bush earned the respect not only of the citizens of this nation, but of foreign leaders around the globe.  He was, despite his “no new taxes” promise that he had to break a short time later, a man of his word.  He was an honest man, a man of integrity.  When he spoke, he spoke the truth, or what was the truth to the best of his knowledge.

George H.W. Bush walked out of the Oval Office for the last time on 20 January 1993, after serving only one term, but he did not stop trying to make the world a better place.  More than ten years later, he and another former president, Bill Clinton, came together to lead aid efforts in tsunami-ravaged South Pacific disaster zones, and later in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.5 living presidents-2President Bush supported a wide variety of humanitarian causes throughout his life in areas of Abuse, Adoption, Fostering, Orphans, AIDS & HIV, Animals, At-Risk/Disadvantaged Youths, Children, Disaster Relief, Economic/Business Support, Education, Environment, Health, Homelessness, Human Rights, Hunger, Mental Challenges, Miscellaneous, Physical Challenges, Poverty, Sports, Women.

From 1993 to 1999, he served as the chairman of the board of trustees for Eisenhower Fellowships, and from 2007 to 2009 was chairman of the National Constitution Center.  In July 2013, Bush had his head shaved in a show of support for the two-year-old son of a member of his security detail, who had leukemia.  Bush-shaved-head.jpgIn 1993, Bush was awarded an honorary knighthood (GCB) by Queen Elizabeth II. He was only the third American president to receive the honor, the others being Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

All of these are parts of the whole, parts of what made George H.W. Bush a good man, an honourable man, a man who earned respect.  You didn’t need to agree with his politics to see that at the very least, he was a man of deep convictions, a man of conscience.

On Friday, the nation lost one of the last presidents we will likely ever see who was deserving of respect.  Four remain to remind us of better times, of times when leaders worked hard to ensure the safety and prosperity of everyone, not just a select few.  Times have changed, and George H.W. Bush was an icon of times past.  R.I.P., President Bush … you will be missed.


Recently a new reader began following this blog, Lisa Jensen, blogging as The Snarky Activist.  Almost all of my readers lean toward the liberal-left, as do I, and none of us have a love of anything even remotely attributable to Donald Trump.  Lisa is different, in that she supports Trump and defends his policies.  For the past year, I have been hoping that somebody from the conservative-right, a Trump supporter, would join our conversations so that we could begin to understand, and perhaps be understood as well.  The few that did, were quickly shown the door because they could not seem to speak to us respectfully, but instead simply wanted to engage in name-calling and putting down our views without even listening.  I have no use for such and will not tolerate it.  But Lisa is different.  Her comments over the past several days have been well thought-out and respectful, and she has answered my questions regarding her views, and asked me questions as well.  This, folks, is how civil discourse works.  Lisa and I even found common ground … we both love wolves, and I suspect most other critters!

In a comment yesterday, Lisa gave us all a challenge:

Lisa-Jensen-2“I’ll leave you with this: Dems and Repubs won’t agree on everything but there has to be some give. I’d challenge you and your followers to find just ONE thing you can agree on that Trump has done for the betterment of America or the World. That of course means you have to accept he is instrumental in the good things that have happened. Be well today!”

Now, I gave this some thought and I would like us to try to rise to the challenge.  For most of my regular readers, as well as for myself, this will not be easy.  I strongly disapprove of nearly everything Donald Trump has done in his 15 months in office, and I can support my views with facts, as I frequently do.  But, admittedly, I have not looked to see if there was something … anything … he has done of which I could approve.  Since I would really like to try to gain some insight, some understanding, to do my very small part toward finding common ground, I would like to pick up the gauntlet that Lisa threw down for us and accept the challenge.  But I cannot do this alone, and I am asking you, dear friends, to join me in this.  I think that it can result in an educational experience for us all, and might even be fun.  But Lisa isn’t getting off the hook here, for I am laying down a gauntlet of my own, and asking her to find just ONE thing that President Obama did that was for the betterment of the U.S. or the World and should not be reversed.

None of us are likely to change our ideologies … there are significant differences between republicans and democrats, conservative-thinkers and liberal-thinkers.  But somewhere, we need to find a bit of middle ground, a place where we can at least respectfully ‘agree to disagree’. I hope at least some of you will help me out here, for I think we have an opportunity to engage in some meaningful discussion and perhaps, if nothing else, come to understand each other just a little better, find a small piece of common ground.

Thanks in advance to all who are willing to comment and participate in this experiment!

Note to Readers: I have purposely not answered comments on this post yet, for I wanted to give Lisa an opportunity to do so first, if she chose. However, she is currently dealing with a personal situation and it may be a day or two before she is able to get back to this. I will try to respond to comments on this post in the morning. Thanks to all who commented!!!

The New Normal …

We are all aware that class is not Donald Trump’s strong suit.  In fact, I think it’s a fair statement to say that the man has none at all.  But in today’s administration, there appear to be many more who have no class, no dignity, no sense of propriety.  Perhaps the ‘man’ at the top has set the tone for all, or perhaps it is simply that he has surrounded himself with people just like himself – crass and vulgar.McCain Holds Townhall Meeting In York, PennsylvaniaSenator John McCain is dying of a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer.  For his entire life, he has served his country well.  McCain is a genuine American hero – one who fought and suffered for his country in the theater of war and has dedicated the better part of the last four decades of his life to public service as a House member, a senator and a two-time presidential candidate.  He is not a man who deserves to be derided, and this certainly is not the time for derision.

McCain has not been able to return to Washington for several months, but nonetheless on Wednesday, he felt compelled to issue a statement calling on his fellow-senators to reject Trump’s nominee for Director of the CIA, Gina Haspel.  Haspel, as an undercover operative, was directly responsible for much of the torture that took place in the years following 9/11, and during her confirmation hearings, she refused to admit that such torture methods are inhumane and morally wrong.   McCain was captured, held and tortured for years (1967-1973) during the Vietnam War.mccain-pow

“However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying. I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.”

The next day, special assistant Kelly Sadler made the derisive comments during a closed-door White House meeting of about two-dozen communications staffers.

“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.”

Ms. Sadler wasn’t the only one who had something snide and rude to say.  Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney, appearing on a Fox Business program, said …

“Well she can’t use it anymore because we have determined in Congress that it’s not legal. The fact is, is John McCain — it worked on John. That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John,’”

McInerney’s comment is false.

McCain has already begun planning his funeral and has requested both Presidents Obama and George W. Bush to give eulogies, but has indicated that he does not wish Donald Trump to be at his funeral.  This is understandable in light of an ongoing contentious relationship between the two, starting in 2016 during the presidential campaign when Trump claimed that in his book, McCain was not a hero because he was captured.  I would not, under any circumstances, want Trump within 5,000 miles of my funeral!  But Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah had to say …

“I think that’s ridiculous. He’s the President of the United States. He’s a very good man. But it’s up to John. I think John should have his wishes fulfilled with regard to who attends his funeral.”

A ‘good man’?  Seriously???  I think not.

I concur fully with former Vice President Joe Biden, who said …

“People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday. Given this White House’s trail of disrespect toward John and others, this staffer is not the exception to the rule; she is the epitome of it.”

And there were others who shared his outrage:

“Our nation should be grateful for the exemplary service and sacrifice of [McCain], and treat this war hero and his family with the civility and respect they deserve.” – Senator Joni Ernst, Iowa

“It’s a sad day in this country when White House officials are mocking a man who was tortured as a prisoner of war. He’s more than earned the right to speak out on these matters. A public apology should be issued immediately.” – Representative Walter Jones, North Carolina

“Whatever one’s differences with John, he’s a patriot who has served our nation selflessly and honorably and deserves our respect.” – Senator Jerry Moran, Kansas

“Look, John McCain is a hero. No two ways about it. John McCain, I mean he gave his entire adult life for this country. John McCain fought for us in Vietnam, was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, came home and dedicated his life to public service. His vocation in life was making life better for people and better for the country. There are so many accolades I could heap on a John McCain.” – Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan

“I spend a lot of time trashing politicians. This [John McCain]  is about the one I’ve admired above all others over the last quarter century.” – Dana Milbank, OpEd columnist, The Washington Post

mccain-2There have been many times that I disagreed with John McCain’s position on certain issues, but he has, I have always believed, had the best interest of the nation and the people in mind.  I have never heard him speak disrespectfully to anyone.  I have the utmost respect for this man.  Perhaps he is among the last of a dying breed, people who believe in dignity, in civil discourse, and in respect for others.  I’m sorry to say that those things have gone by the wayside in our government since January 20, 2017.

R.I.P. Civil Discourse

It once was considered good form to engage one’s brain before engaging one’s mouth.  This procedure was known as ‘civility’, or ‘civil discourse’, and was once quite popular.  It was the thing, perhaps, that kept us from killing each other.  It was the thing that kept marriages together, even in times of trouble.  Until one day somebody, and I know not who, gave the process a name:  political correctness.  For some reason, giving it a name made it a process to be shunned, made it unpopular.

The latest evidence of the reversal of civil discourse is a comment I read this morning by republican Senator Orrin Hatch when speaking to a group at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday:

[We] finally did away with the individual mandate tax that was established under that wonderful bill called Obamacare. Now, if you didn’t catch on, I was being very sarcastic. That was the stupidest, dumbass bill that I’ve ever seen. Some of you may have loved it. If you do, you are one of the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met. [emphasis added] There are a lot of them up there on Capitol Hill from time to time.”

Hatch later apologized, sort of, for his remarks saying they were ‘flippant’ and ‘off-the-cuff’, though it appeared he was reading from a prepared speech. ‘A poorly-worded joke’, he said. Not to let Senator Hatch off the hook, for he deserves to be called on the carpet for his remarks, but he is only one of many who, seemingly energized by the populist movement in general, and by Donald Trump specifically, have relaxed both their brains and their mouths, and allow whatever thoughts they have to tumble out unfettered.

There are many definitions for ‘civil discourse’:

  • “Engagement in discourse intended to enhance understanding …”
  • “The language of dispassionate objectivity”

A June editorial in the Los Angeles Times suggests “Trump didn’t birth American intolerance. He’s the manifestation of our long-disturbed national dialogue.”  In response, a reader of the Times wrote …

“When personal computers and the Internet became ubiquitous, civility was dealt a final blow. It’s so easy to be nasty and cruel sitting at a keyboard, never seeing what impact the nastiness and vulgarity are having on the recipients of such missives.”

We could debate … with civility … for days and still not likely pin down an answer about when, how and why we have lost the art of true communication sans rancor, or civil discourse.  But the debate is rather pointless, rather like worrying about how the dog got rabies, instead of taking the dog to the vet to be treated for the condition.

We in the U.S. are living in the most divisive, polarized environment since the Civil War era, and the thing that is most lacking is understanding of the other side.  Understanding is not going to come to any of us in a nightly dream, nor is it going to suddenly strike us like a streak of lightening.   The only path to understanding is going to come through conversation.  By conversation, I do not mean the type of communication we see daily on CNN or Fox News, where people are constantly deriding one side or the other, name-calling and using phrases that are designed not to communicate, but to stir anger and resentment.  The only thing this type of communication accomplishes is to push the two sides further apart.

Not long ago, I wrote a piece titled Thoughts on Integrity in which I opined that integrity is basically dead in many areas including government, medicine and religion.  I would say the same for civility, only I would add that the loss of civility has extended to many other areas, including families, friendships and neighbors.

If we are to make a start at narrowing what I have referred to as The Great Divide in this nation, we are going to have to have a return to civil discourse, a return to kindness, compassion, a return to listening to what another person says rather than listening only with the intention of providing a response.  We need to listen to each other … truly listen.  Then, before responding, we must think … process what was said, and respond with calmness, not rancor, not vitriol.  This is not easy, but I think that the longer we wait to make a start, the harder it gets.  I too am guilty of this.  Words can hurt, words can anger … we need to choose our words much more carefully.  We must learn, once again, to be kind.

I’m not advocating that we have to agree with everything we hear, for we are not lemmings.  But there are ways of disagreeing without offending.  Our words need not be a personal affront, or target the other person.  We can, as one of my friends is fond of saying, respectfully agree to disagree and move on.

But I think the example needs to come from the top.  Church leaders need to remove the politics of intolerance and hate from their speech.  Politicians, our elected representatives, need to treat us and also each other with respect.  For a senator to refer to the people he has been tasked to represent as ‘stupid’ or ‘dumbass’ is simply unacceptable.  Every one of his constituents should be writing letters respectfully protesting and reminding him that he faces re-election in a few short months.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to freedom of speech, and yes, hate speech is protected as long as it does not incite violence.  Whether that should be the case or not is a discussion beyond the scope of this post, but it is up to us to show some common sense, to treat others with respect, to learn to keep our mouths shut sometimes.  Just because you can say something, just because the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to say something cruel and senseless, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.  It doesn’t necessarily mean it is helpful or will solve any problems.

The leaders of this nation, both in Congress and in the White House, need to first set the tone, need to learn to speak without raised voices, without shaking fists, without name calling.  But first, they need to learn to listen.  How can they possibly manage the government that is ‘by the people, for the people, and of the people’ if they do not listen to the people, if they do not know the needs of the people, and if they view We the People as ‘stupid dumbasses’?

Is civil discourse dead?  Perhaps so.  Can it be revived?  Surely it can, but it requires the effort of each and every one of us.  It requires a commitment to respect the opinions of others, even those we disagree with.  And it requires that sometimes we be willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, we were wrong.  The ability to say, “I’m sorry”.  Think about it.