Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Quality Of Discourse

The quality of our discourse is not improved by name-calling, even witty, snarky name-calling.

This morning I was reading an interview with Ann Coulter (who I don't like to read), and the topic was her new book "How To Talk To A Liberal (If You Must)". The very title of that book dismays me. Liberals are our neighbors and friends. We don't have to take that kind of patronizing tone with them. I realize a lot of self-identified liberals take that kind of patronizing tone with conservatives. It's no excuse. Or at least, it was no excuse to my parents, who didn't take kindly to the "he called me a poopyhead so he's a poopyhead too" argument. The insults may be fun to read and include all kinds of clever alliteration and stuff. We may have graduated from "poopyhead" to "Rethuglican" and "Dimocrat" or "Bushitler" and "Klintoon", but name-calling is name-calling, and your mother would not approve no matter how clever the name is.

When my brother was younger, I used to listen to him rant and curse out Mom and Dad, but finally one day he was saying things so foul that I just turned and said, "That's my mother you're talking about." He immediately apologized and went quiet. I think Heavenly Father can't be too excited about us calling His children names like that. I think our discourse would be better if we thought to ourselves, "That's somebody's mother/father/sister/brother/etc." The more we distance ourselves from others, the easier it is first to "dis" them, then to oppress them.

We really should be concerned with improving the quality of our discourse, especially after this election.

UPDATE: Mim sends this related article.