Civility - RE: Resistance and speaking out

From: Tony Whitson (
Date: Sat Jan 29 2005 - 17:03:48 PST

Among the many compelling concerns raised by Jay and David is the matter of
civility. I don't often think about that and I don't know how to think about
it, but it clearly is important.


The thread started in reaction to Spellings' attack on a TV episode about a
family of maple sugerers headed by two moms.


Spellings invoked the fact that the episode would embroil the program in
controversy as justification for withdrawing it, since "Many parents would
not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the


There's a piece in today's Boston Globe (at
ical/ )

that concludes, "Of course, many parents would not want their children
exposed to Muslim, evangelical Christian, or Mormon families, all of which
Buster has encountered in past episodes. Should those parents get to shape
our children's understanding?"


I think the family Buster visited in Texas was involved with Rodeos. I think
there are a lot of people who would regard aspects of that culture -- or,
for another example, the culture of dehumanizing brutalization that is seen
in some military situations and can lead to things like what happened at Abu
Graib -- as no less objectionable than the families with same-sex parents
are seen to be by those that Spelling is pandering to.


If the bare fact of CONTROVERSY is grounds for suppressing representation,
then if we all behaved like the radical right, and insisted that the things
we find objectionable must not be seen on television, then Spellings' could
not use that justification so one-sidedly.


But the rest of us do not behave like the radical right.


Why doesn't Bill Moyers behave more like Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh?
It's impossible to imagine, isn't it? It's partly a matter of disposition --
who would want to be like that? -- are we even capable of that way of being
if we concluded that it makes sense strategically? But partly it's also that
we don't believe in that manner of public conduct.


Still, as Jay is pointing out, this sensibility puts us at a disadvantage.


Again, I don't know how to think about this, but I thank Jay and David for
forcing me to try thinking about it.

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