Posted by: Donna
Shorter Intellectual Conservative: Every time you drop an F bomb a welfare queen is born!
I’ve written on this blog about how right wingers like to preen about how virtuous they are because they don’t swear (at least not in front of the servants). Proving my point, “Intellectual Conservative” blogger Rachel Alexander devotes several paragraphs of her latest post to pearl clutching over profanity and her belief that all this unrestrained cussing going on contributes to our “culture of rudeness” which has spiraled out of control. This is also clearly a “nuh uh, you libs are the rude ones!” response to Mitt’s 47% fiasco.
This self-centered generation has developed an attitude that they are “entitled” to be rude, entitled to cut each other down. Instead of greeting others with a smile, brightening their day, it has become commonplace to be negative and grouchy towards others, including their co-workers. Publications like the Phoenix New Times, an alternative news weekly, reveal how degenerate the culture has become. Its articles and the comments left after them are not only rude but replete with foul language.
Plus, kids these days are sassing the grown-ups and people in general are no longer automatically deferential to authority figures. Plus, atheists rudely being atheist. Alexander looks to history for ideas on how we might put the brakes on this express train to Perdition.
William Wilberforce, a leader in the 18th century effort to abolish slavery, was so appalled by “the torrent of profaneness that every day makes more rapid advances” that he started a movement to introduce civility. Wilberforce had the Archbishop of Canterbury request that King George III issue TheProclamation for the Discouragement of Vice. It called for the prosecution of those who engage in “excessive drinking, blasphemy, profane swearing and cursing, lewdness, profanation of the Lord’s Day, and other dissolute, immoral, or disorderly practices.” He founded the Society for Suppression of Vice. He was effective, and by the end of his life, morals, manners and a sense of social responsibility had spread throughout Britain.
Movement conservatives today seem to be operating under the same definition of civility that Wilberforce was in his vice suppression effort. Mostly form over substance. Alexander’s image of a civil culture requires similar vice suppression squads. You know, kind of like the modesty police in certain Middle East countries now. It’s worth noting that Alexander is approving of a campaign for public virtue that happened under the reign of King George III, from which the American colonies had recently won their freedom. Also noteworthy is that Anglican clergyman Sydney Smith “suggested bitterly that it ought to be called the Society for the Suppression of Vice among persons with less than £500 a year”. It’s no surprise then, that Alexander likes it so much.
This is why all these calls for “civility” are doomed to fail. They inevitably redound to the efforts of reactionary authoritarians. Civility, politeness, decorum, whatever you want to call it, means behavioral norms that are arbitrarily established and enforced by the most privileged and powerful members of society. The less privileged and powerful you are, the lower the likelihood you ever get a platform to speak, but when you do there is a higher likelihood that you will somehow violate the arbitrary civility standards. You will very likely come off as angry, because people are trying to impose policies that will harm you or your loved ones. Which of course means the elites don’t have to listen to you, even if you were speaking the truth and your anger is justified, because you were so uncivil. Conversely, if you are a person with power and privilege, or someone who works for them, you are given numerous forums from which to spout whatever you want. And if that happens to be errant nonsense like Birtherism or climate change denial or that 47% of Americans are welfare mooches, or as Alexander claims in her screed, that 100 million people are on welfare in this country, you will feel entitled to demand the utmost courtesy and deference. The very worst breach of civility, in your mind, is other people making you uncomfortable either by calling out your lies, ridiculing you and your ideas, or (heaven forbid!) using colorful language to do so.
Oh, and this actually happened last night:
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