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J. KARL MILLER: We need to return to civility of past generations

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:01 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 28, 2012

With any kind of luck, we might enjoy a respite from the flood of recriminations and manifestations of real and feigned outrage from both sides of the political spectrum over Rush Limbaugh's rather boorish choice of words in describing Ms. Sandra Fluke's quest for her birth control requirements.

That Ms. Fluke is not a candidate to make us forget June Cleaver is not at issue — her personal life is her own. Limbaugh's lewd representation of her failed to establish the truth of the matter stated therein in violation of an analytic rule of evidence defining hearsay.

It was vintage Limbaugh, fueling the fires of his legions of haters and embarrassing those of us who eschew personal attacks and locker room name-calling, particularly by one with a nationwide audience. Admittedly, Rush can be and often is a jerk — often a product of an oversized ego and a seemingly receptive public.

Lest I be pummeled and cudgeled by those occupying my side of the aisle, I am aware that the "Mouth of the Right" is not alone in tasteless attacks on women with whom he is at odds. Nevertheless, the reality that among others, the ultra-tacky syndicated comic Bill Maher and MSNBC's Ed Schultz have uttered much worse and received a media pass is not reassuring — no one escapes the stench of the gutter.

The consequences of television and radio shock jocks spewing vulgarities from a purely political standpoint and, to a lesser extent, the crude and indecent guttersnipes of the entertainment world, could be dire. It is no secret there is a movement to silence or severely restrict talk-radio broadcasts, particularly those of conservative bent — at least 30 liberal groups have petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine which was eliminated in 1987.

Thus far, the courts have ruled wisely in the interests of freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed by the Constitution. Disagreement, dissent and debate are vital to the freedoms earned by the blood and toil of soldiers and statespeople and may not be subjected to the whims of executive order and/or partisan legislative fiat.

How we arrived in these straits of incivility and vulgarity in our discourse and how to curtail these permitted but totally classless and unnecessary incursions of poor taste and absences of common courtesy are relevant. Those of my generation, born in the 1930s and growing up in the '40s and '50s, were rarely subjected to excesses of rude, lewd and destructive behavior.

We were far from perfect but barnyard language stayed in the barnyard. People treated one another (ladies in particular) with courtesy and respect, and freedom of speech and expression did not include public utterings of four-letter words, disrupting funerals and desecrating and burning the flag — all of which is permitted under the First Amendment.

We got here because we, collectively, allowed it to happen. We have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the filth, vulgarity and degeneracy of our entertainment mediums — movies, television, radio and the drug-glorifying, foulmouthed, tasteless and lawless "artists" whose song lyrics and comedy rants should turn a normal person's stomach.

We can pretend that by observing family-hour programming, restricting the likes of Howard Stern to cable TV, paying lip service to the movies, video games and leisure pursuits of children that all is well. But, kids today are not Wally and the Beaver of the '50s — they have far more outlets for mischief and, being kids, they are inquisitive and tend to lose the leash whenever possible.

Consequently, we have third- and fourth-graders cursing and attacking teachers, incorrigible teenagers and a generation of people who eschew responsibility, instead blaming society or the lack of government programs. Left alone, it isn't going to get any better.

How do we plot the course of civil and decent discourse? We have learned that we cannot do it by passing new laws — ordinances against flag burning, the Reverend Phelps' harassment of funerals and pornographic materials have been overturned in the courts as violating the First Amendment.

We do it gradually through a change of attitude. First, we cease subsidizing uncivil and vulgar entertainment mediums. Movies, TV shows, concerts and night club entertainment that offend are dependent on customers — they will adapt or be replaced.

Most importantly, we can turn to treating our fellow man and woman with common courtesy and respect. We can disagree without being disagreeable — and if we cannot agree or compromise, we can at least be tolerant.

 Admittedly, it is a steep hill to climb — however, affecting leadership by setting the example is infectious — it can lessen the grade.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.


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Comments

Michael Williams March 28, 2012 | 8:00 a.m.

Steep hill, indeed.

In times past, incivility was arbitrated with a good left jab followed by a right cross, but we can't go there anymore unless we enjoy a short stint behind bars, bail bondsmen, and court activities that drag on forever.

About the only thing that will work nowadays is a good shunnin', a quieter and less painful way of expressing communal or personal disfavor for uncivilized behavior. The absence of meaningful human interaction is a powerful penalty...and deterrent...for most folks when the withdrawal originates from peers or (especially) the opposite sex.

It's a good first choice for response but it sometimes fails for the true misanthropes, for which the former strategy may be the only attention-getter. Hurts, tho.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 28, 2012 | 10:19 a.m.

Civil and decent discourse has declined in our country quite symmetrically to the reduction in the images of Jesus Christ and God not only in discourse, but every walk of our lives.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, formed in 1947, really saw their efforts bear fruit at the beginning of the 1960s, mainly through the use or threat of use of the legal system of our democratic society. The removal, in our public schools and elsewhere, of the mellowing effect of the Christian religion in our culture, replaced with only a reverence for and dependence upon government, by every one encouraged to believe that they are "victims", has earned us, "these straits of incivility and vulgarity in our discourse",along with the other disastrous salves and ointments supplied by liberalism.

Unfortunately, even after we see need for change the entity used to foist them upon us, our legal system, will be needed for correction.

(Report Comment)
Greg Allen March 28, 2012 | 11:06 a.m.

When I read this piece -- which the Colonel and I heartily agree on -- I was thinking of the exchange Mr. Christian and I had last week. I was trying to exchange ideas and Mr. Christian challenged me. I tried to not fight, but he insisted on a win-lose exchange.

It got me to thinking how oriented our society is toward competition, and how we seem to have lost the distinction between discussion and debate, and between friendly and hostile competition. This is why I chime in on things like ad hominem, because I prefer to keep an exchange of ideas flowing without someone needing to dominate others.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 28, 2012 | 1:23 p.m.

("We got here because we, collectively, allowed it to happen.")
While I blame it on radicals in the feminist movement.
Chivalry is dead.
Good guys finish last, if at all.
And the concept of political correctness is being used to stifle expression.
But then again, this is the "bible belt" and Rush could have handled his outrage of the law student's feelings of entitlement and bloated contraception expenses a little bit more gingerly.
And then he could have worked his magic, silently BEHIND the scenes, and make certain that such young agents of the liberal progressives don't get their way with every government program benefit they wish to pass.
As for me, I'll be spending my weekend watching some gangsta rap videos.
("All cultural products are expressions of certain values. Rap music is characterized by greed and lust and vanity. Greed for money, and cars, and cribs, and bling-bling. Lust for a crude form of sexual gratification, that is not liberating, but is demeaning and dehumanizing. And a simple-minded form of boastful vanity that would be easily seen as vulgar if, say, a white teenager in Van Nuys exhibited it, but that is somehow an admirable expression of racial pride if a sneering black rap performer prances about with his ego on display.")
http://www.larrydewitt.net/Essays/Rap.ht...

(Report Comment)
Ken Maxey March 28, 2012 | 4:35 p.m.

Colonel Miller's observations are accurate and relevant to the condition of civility in our society. To add to the discussion, it is my view that it is not so much that we tolerate incivility in that we demand it. As an economist, I am usually engaged in supply-demand analysis of even the most unconventional topics. People demand incivility -- in politics, on the internet, in the media -- for a variety of reasons. Otherwise, it would not be "consumed" in such great quantities. I recently wrote a book on the subject of civility (not advertising here) that targeted narcissism, prejudice and disassociation as some of the culprits driving incivility. And yes, Fred Phelps and his crew are prominently featured as examples of pure jerks.
Nice job, Colonel!

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush March 28, 2012 | 5:12 p.m.

We can begin by
Shelving the "both sides do it"
Hogwash - it's phony.

Comics lampoon the
Powerful, harshly. Bullies
Pick the powerless.

The election of
Eighteen Hundred disproves the
"Good ol' Days" theory.

The moment after
A coward cries "Uncle!" is
When he fights dirty.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle March 28, 2012 | 10:20 p.m.

You mean when abuse victims got swept under the rug, Colonel? When teen pregnancies often led to shotgun weddings, and too often a lifetime of abuse for the woman and children? Sorry, I'd rather see the abortion (and this is one reason it happens). Truth is, "The good old days" simply weren't all that good. What "stayed in the barnyard" was often the reality of domestic violence and abuse.

Sure, blowhards like Limbaugh and Maher can get away with incredibly crude public discourse these days, but it has become much harder for domestic and sexual abusers to hide their abuse and keep harming their victims.

I'll call that a fair trade.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 29, 2012 | 5:14 a.m.

Colonel, have you ever danced to the "Liechtensteiner Polka"? (Ah, those fond days at the beer hall, dancing with Hannelore!)

It's a spirited song, as are most Polkas, but dancing to it requires a rather complicated series of Polka steps.

By contrast, the "Haiku Polka" requires only a simple dance step: You lead strongly with your LEFT foot, trip badly, and fall flat on your face. :)

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 29, 2012 | 6:02 a.m.

One key to improving civility is to get one's facts straight. The Colonel states that the current round of abuse from the right-wing began with Mr. Limbaugh's comments concerning "Ms. Sandra Fluke's quest for her birth control requirements." This, of course, is ignorance malignant.

Anybody who actually paid attention to what Mr. Fluke said already knows that she spoke on the behalf of a law school classmate for whom birth control was an essential part of her treatment for a serious gynecological problem and not for the pursuit of recreational sex. It's the liars like Limbaugh who distorted her words to make up statements she never made.

So, Colonel, before you wax lyrical about the sins of all, let confess that you adopt right-wing propaganda points in the pandering of your opinions. The same poor benighted souls who insist on thinking that Ms. Fluke is wanting government funding for recreational sex are the same knuckleheads who think that the President is Kenyan, Moslem, and socialist, that the Clintons murdered Vince Foster, and that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that we had to invade because the Iraqis refused to cooperate.

The most verbally abusive in our political discourse in this country are also among its most ignorant. You do not help by assisting them; in fact, in writing this column, you confess that you are part of the problem.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 29, 2012 | 7:48 a.m.

Ken Maxey wrote:

"People demand incivility -- in politics, on the internet, in the media -- for a variety of reasons."

Yes - what drives media incivility is ratings, and people get insenstitive to it, like they get insensitive to violence or sexual material in movies and TV. There's a tremendous shock value in being the first to breach a civil convention, and the videos become viral and more people hear of them than would happen otherwise. And the advertising dollars often pour in.

So we get loud, boorish commentators hyperbolizing, and people tune in because they react to what is said. They feel and don't think.

There's probably more of this in right wing commentary because there's more commentators and outlets - right wing political programming is more popular than left wing programming. But the core problem exists regardless of political position - feeling rather than thinking. People want simple answers to complicated problems, and they want them delivered in an entertaining and inspirational way. To me, that is not a formula for cooperation, compromise, and civility.

It is encouraging to see advertisers pull out because of loutish comments and subjects. But what drives this is people listen in the first place. They love the controversy. There's always advertisers that are happy to step in and try to exploit that.

DK

(Report Comment)
John Bliss March 29, 2012 | 12:20 p.m.

Colonel, I couldn't agree with you more. My folks would never allow me to speak this way. Still, I'm concrned with what my Mother would say! With 6 sisters I dare not speak
that way. Good onr Sir!

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller March 29, 2012 | 1:20 p.m.

Ellis--You are indeed prescient. For an engineer, you enjoy an excellent command of the language and display a knack for choosing the the most effective wordsmithing. In the name of my youngest brother, a chemical engineer, I salute you.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller March 29, 2012 | 1:26 p.m.

Mr Brandon, And you believe yourself to be part of the solution? I think not--but, thank you for your comments. At the very least, you did get to see your name in print. Have a nice day.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 29, 2012 | 1:50 p.m.

J. Karl: Flattery will get you somewhere. :) My former public school English teachers would, were they alive today, be pleased. I attended high school in a situation where it was presumed many of the graduates would NOT go on to college, so our English teachers busted their butts to cram all the English grammar and composition into their students that they could.

I found college (mandatory) English courses a joke, but VERY handy for raising my grade point! If I'd done as well with all my engineering grades as with English I'd be Tau Beta Pi (engineering equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa) today.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 29, 2012 | 3:27 p.m.

Bob Brandon - "Anybody who actually paid attention to what Mr. Fluke said already knows that she spoke on the behalf of a law school classmate for whom birth control was an essential part of her treatment for a serious gynecological problem and not for the pursuit of recreational sex."

Ms. Flukes testimony:"“I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraceptive coverage in its student health plan. And just as we students have faced financial, emotional, and medical burdens as a result, employees at religiously-affiliated hospitals and institutions and universities across the country have suffered similar burdens."

“Without insurance coverage, contraception, as you know, can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school. For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that’s practically an entire summer’s salary. 40% of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they struggle financially as a result of this policy.
“One told us about how embarrassed and just powerless she felt when she was standing at the pharmacy counter and learned for the first time that contraception was not covered on her insurance and she had to turn and walk away because she couldn’t afford that prescription."

Three paragraphs later she refers to a friend with an illness. I would suggest that you reconsider who should "get one's facts straight.", who is the liar and even who is "most ignorant". A look in a mirror will help with your new assessment.

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 29, 2012 | 4:44 p.m.

Colonel:

Suggesting that I have no solution to the problem is mere projection on your part. The solution is to provide contraceptives as part of a basic health insurance package and leave it to each woman to determine what is best for her. Allowing "religious objections" for benefits for plans covered by federal law is a recipe for utter confusion, since there are plenty of non-sexual medical reasons for women to use oral contraceptives. For your part, you've offered nothing that can be called a solution: "toughing it out" is not much of a solution.

As your seeing names in print, that's a mere diversion. On the other hand, I prefer to think of you as the Missourian equivalent of David Brooks in the NYT. For what it's worth, anyone who accesses his column on the website can certainly see how much his commentary is appreciated.

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 29, 2012 | 6:02 p.m.

Mr. Christian:

Here's a link to the entirety of Ms. Fluke's remarks: http://www.buzzfeed.com/boxofficebuz/tra...

When one reads her remarks (and I certainly commend them to you if you haven't actually already read them), one has to realize that to think that women's access to inexpensive oral contraception is all about easy sex is nonsense. Maybe you and the Colonel have wives, even daughters. Oral contraception allows for the regulation of a woman's gynecological health in ways that allows her to live a better life than otherwise and one about which men simply have no way to relate.

In many cases, oral contraceptive use prevents serious medical problems for a significant number of women. There can be no legitimate moral objection to that, no matter how one may parse the matter, and, since there is no legitimate moral objection and there is no health care policy objection at all, there no reason to allows some employers off the hook. It has to ride on religious bias bordering on, if not cross the border into, misogyny.

After all, Mr. Christian, you're not going to see anything in her remarks about easy sex and all the garbage that the likes of Mr. Limbaugh (and, in his own way, the good Colonel: see http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...). It's about a constitutional, moral, and inherent right for everyone to be treated fairly.

(And as for the good Colonel, here's his money quote: "Unfettered access to contraception devices is a right enjoyed by all Americans, be they male or female. However, the right of access does not obviate the individual's responsibility to exercise common sense, reasonable caution or even abstinence in birth control measures." Sheer genius: he's actually thinks Ms. Fluke is in it for the debauchery. Our good Colonel seems to have bought into the Limbaugh hatred, receiver, stock, and barrel. And therein lies his credibility problem. Not to mention yours as well).

About that mirror? Methinks you have the greater need. The good Colonel as well.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 29, 2012 | 6:03 p.m.

Rush Limbaugh stated today that his ratings are up "between 10% & 30%". "The advertisers that left are the ones that lost." Sorry, Col. J.

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 29, 2012 | 6:38 p.m.

"Rush Limbaugh stated today that his ratings are up "between 10% & 30%"."

Great, let's see some Arbitron reports. Or, maybe not: see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cenk-uygur...

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller March 29, 2012 | 6:48 p.m.

Mr Brandon--I question your comprehensions skills if you really believe this remark: " On the other hand, I prefer to think of you as the Missourian equivalent of David Brooks in the NYT."

David Brooks is a left of center, would be conservative, whose opinions have listed to port in order to conform to the New York Times.

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 29, 2012 | 6:58 p.m.

The good Colonel states: "David Brooks is a left of center, would be conservative, whose opinions have listed to port in order to conform to the New York Times."

Please forgive me; I was considering your respective styles. There are similarities.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller March 29, 2012 | 6:58 p.m.

Ellis..I too was blessed with teachers and a mother who valued grammar and composition and would never tolerate an incomplete sentence. The first three teachers were not college grads-- I attended a one room school that changed teachers 3 times during my 8 year term. Moving on to HS, I enjoyed the same treatment--fortunately, I have always enjoyed writing.

Like you, I found college English a gift. By the way, my mother was a Phi Beta Kappa.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 29, 2012 | 8:23 p.m.

B. Brandon - In case you have not noticed, the Col. dislikes R. Limbaugh as much as you. Your comments are the ones reflecting "hatred" in this instance.

I have quoted You Ms. Flukes remarks. For one to believe that she is not referring to the recreational sex of she and her friends expressed also by the insincere reference to the "married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn’t fit it into their budget anymore. Women employed in low-wage jobs without contraceptive coverage face the same choice.", is beyond the ridiculous. Your recitation of the benefits of contraception have nothing to do, especially without reference to the explosion of unwed pregnancies since it's inception.

Col. Miller has written about a serious cultural problem apparent every day in our country. You have answered in the progressive liberal mode that has created this problem, as well as many more. "It's about a constitutional, moral, and inherent right for everyone to be treated fairly.", is not true either. It's about spreading more tax payer monies among those most likely to pay with a vote for a Democrat!

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 29, 2012 | 8:56 p.m.

Washington Post, (not the "Huff"), today - "“The dark clouds hanging over Rush Limbaugh appear to be lifting,” writes Farhi. “On Monday, the 600 or so radio stations that air Limbaugh’s program were told by his syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, to resume running “barter” ads during his program.” Clear Channel, Premier’s parent network, had previously suspended barter ads while Limbaugh was in the news."

The suspension of "barter ads" are what gave Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC the idea to proclaim at beginning of his show, "all national advertising has been suspended on the Rush Limbaugh Show!" Not another word about it apparently on his show (could not stand to listen 'til end) nor anywhere else on our broad expanse of news information. Liberals believe they know where to go for truth?

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 29, 2012 | 8:59 p.m.

Mr. Christian:

You stated "For one to believe that she is not referring to the recreational sex of she and her friends expressed also by the insincere reference to the "married female student told me that she had to stop using contraception because she and her husband just couldn’t fit it into their budget anymore."

If you read the actual transcript instead of selected quotes (and my link to her remarks is still there in my previous comment and I commend them to your attention), there is nothing insincere about her remarks, and you certainly don't know her well enough to judge her insincere anymore than Rush Limbaugh. Which, by the way, puts you in the same company if not the same level of invective and abuse. Such judgmentalism as yours is consistent with the kind of GOP hatred that this country has been burdened with for much of the past 40 years, and such an eager adopting of these political simplicities is the real cause of discord in this country, not to mention its outright decline.

But if you want to be part of the problem; well, it's still a free country for now.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 30, 2012 | 8:27 a.m.

Bob Brandon - Yours is certainly a case begging for deep study. Though quite obvious, it would seem, that I am quoting for the same source that you profess is the reliable one, I'll state again that the buzzfeed post is where my opinion of her testimony comes from. The problem, yours, not mine, is that you, with your ideology (not only an insincere one, but a flat out lie!) are able to imagine meanings and emotions in your chosen rhetoric that do not exist for those with a more sound mind, trying to use the best opportunity many could imagine (being born American) to make theirs the best possible life. "Sound mind" is strong, but seems applicable with one trying to sell a married couple giving up contraception because they can no longer afford it (at $9.00 per month), as a reason the bankrupt Federal government should pay for it as a measure of "fairness".

You condemn me for not "knowing her well enough to judge her", while you have no idea the actual financial situation of the married couple claiming poverty, but you accept Ms. Fluke's presentation because it fits the agenda. The agenda being the elitist objective, gain power and control with the use of tax payer funds to obtain support and votes!

I was a working adult during the "past 40 years" to which you refer. I could be wrong, but your shallow comments and attitude seem to put you among those educated in our public schools during that period, whom prefer to believe that the history of the United States of America began sometime after New Years day in 1960. We have to accept them and we now know, they must be kept out of our government.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub March 30, 2012 | 9:35 a.m.

McCarthyism, curfews, racism, lynchings, Watergate,Korea, Vietnam, union busting, censorship, fall-out shelters, dress codes, mafia, etc. etc. Those were the good old days!

(Report Comment)
Ken Maxey March 30, 2012 | 11:36 a.m.

Fellow Citizens -

It is interesting how a dialogue on civility seemingly can fray at the edges in the course of a few hours. Obviously, some of you believe that the Colonel's original article, and then others' response to that article, is contrived of mistruths and political agendas, if not just misinterpretations of the facts.

I would like to interject a thought here. My definition of civility is "those actions and behaviors which support the dignity of another." One does not have to agree with another to still embrace this concept. Our challege seems to be that in our pursuit of being "right," we sometimes leave behind a perspective that the other is very likely an honorable human being with a different set of views and values from ours.

Most of the people who have blogged on this post appear to have strong values and high intelligence. I applaud your ability to engage in the level of intellectual exchange on the various subtopics raised. I urge you to remember my definition of civility as you further engage each other.

As is amply demonstrated every day (Rush L., Fred Phelps, Jerry Springer, "Survivor" contestents), the world is either awash with jerks, or the media tends to aggrandize them for our benefit. It is left to the rest of us to shore up the bastions of civility through our respectful dialogue with one another.

Everyone have a great day!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 30, 2012 | 12:50 p.m.

@ Ken Maxey:

Amen!

It's a toot that an article on civility can bring out so much uncivil comment. :)

J. Karl: You might want to look at the comments attached to the article "Universities relying more on part-time faculty." After we've done with "civility" maybe we can discuss what the word "education" actually means. Some "Club Ed"* folks appear to have a VERY narrow definition of the word.

*-If that sounds vaguely like "Club Med," it's intended.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 30, 2012 | 1:32 p.m.

Mr. Maxey - "As is amply demonstrated every day (Rush L., Fred Phelps, Jerry Springer, "Survivor" contestents),

That you see fit to link him with them does not increase your level of credibility. I have openly disagreed with JKM about, "Admittedly, Rush can be and often is a jerk — often a product of an oversized ego and a seemingly receptive public." as well as other verbal labels which in no way represent his contribution of information via public radio.

While in business, I generally had KFRU radio with his show on it. Over the years I heard about his grandfather, who lived to be 100 and practiced law until the very end and was an avid A. Lincoln historian. Rush also told of the female U.ofMo. student sitting next on a flight, that at our Univ. she had been required to read 1 book on Lincoln and it had proved to her that he was a racist and a terrible President. No one on the left wants us to hear information of that nature. RL spent possibly one week replaying tapes of JFK, to show how conservative Jack sounded and what the Democrat party was then. (Then, people were confident that R's and D's both wanted what was best for our country, just had different idea's on how to obtain it.) He has done the same with R. Reagan speeches. (Just a week or so, again. I thought of writing the Col. about it.)

He has explained the true intent and purpose of the environmental movement, deftly and provided more accurate information on GW and Climate change than Al Gore and IPCC combined. I now listen only while having my sandwich at noon 15-20 minutes per day. I learn something nearly every time. He has explained the SCOTUS hearings of this week, using information he states he received from his "judge buddies" (humorless bombastics to some) the Best sources to those who know of his heritage among Judges.

In short, he provides provably accurate information, often difficult to obtain elsewhere and those only able to discern his occasional acts of a boisterous demeanor, as his total value are the losers.

Regarding Ms. Fluke, he stated that he had allowed himself to fall to the level of those opposing him and apologized for that. Who but a progressive, liberal Democrat, could not accept?

(Report Comment)
Ken Geringer March 30, 2012 | 3:20 p.m.

Well, me, Frank

He as you know is an entertainer.

(Report Comment)
Ken Maxey March 30, 2012 | 4:01 p.m.

Mr. Christian -

Actually, I am a fairly conservative, registered Republican. I didn't say Mr. Limbaugh was wrong, I just object sometimes to his presentation methods. Of course, the same can be said for many radio personalities who use hot-button issues to get a rise out of their audiences. I understand your reaction to my putting Rush into the same category as the others I cited. [By the way, I forgot to add Howard Stern to the list.] :-) I'm a fan of Bill O'Reilly, although it irritates me that he consistently talks over his guests, irrespective of their political orientation.

My advocacy is for civility in dialogue and human relations, and beyond that, I can live and let live with most others' worldviews, so long as they are civil in their advocacy.

Thanks for an engaging exchange!

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush March 30, 2012 | 5:47 p.m.

Civility is
For my adversary, not
Me. Now that's a toot!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 30, 2012 | 6:26 p.m.

"Ja, das ist die Liechtensteiner Polka, mein Schatz..."

Beats that "Haiku Polka" all hollow.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 30, 2012 | 6:34 p.m.

Ken M. - I'm glad to read of your political preference and of course accept your explanation regarding Limbaugh. I am, though, still confused with your reference to his "presentation methods". Should we assume that Rush, in your view, is among the "many radio personalities who use hot-button issues to get a rise out of their audiences"? He used to state that he reads 7-8 newspapers per day (our intellectuals are rolling their eyeballs, wonder how many of them go to those links for variety in information?) and picks the subjects that interest him. Always defends conservatism, sometimes Republicans. He was selected to speak to the 1994 class of freshman Republicans. Never heard of problems with "presentation methods" there.

I have neglected to praise your efforts for the return to civility in our discourse. I do it now. If a suggestion from a Complete layman might help , please note.

Among the many reasons for controversy in our everyday interaction, imo is that the lack of Truth as accepted and related to our peers is apparent and has been for as one posted wrote the "past 40 years". We know that our youth have been taught in many cases, that truth is, as one perceives it. This in its self gives them license to lie, if convenient and to support this "end" we have created a new word, "spin".

How about an effort to return Truth to our demands both verbally and physically, to knowingly speak falsely, the telling of a Lie and discard word "spin" except for green wind machines, etc?

Thank you!

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 30, 2012 | 9:14 p.m.

Mr. Christian:

You wrote: "I was a working adult during the "past 40 years" to which you refer. I could be wrong, but your shallow comments and attitude seem to put you among those educated in our public schools during that period, whom prefer to believe that the history of the United States of America began sometime after New Years day in 1960. We have to accept them and we now know, they must be kept out of our government."

And now you assume much about me without knowing one thing about me except my opinions. You made this same mistake with Ms. Fluke. This habit of evidence-less assuming seems to be a fault with you, a fault shared by many who seem to come from the right wing.

(Report Comment)
Bob Brandon March 30, 2012 | 9:20 p.m.

Mr. Christian:

You also wrote: "Regarding Ms. Fluke, [Mr. Limbaugh] stated that he had allowed himself to fall to the level of those opposing him and apologized for that. Who but a progressive, liberal Democrat, could not accept?"

How passive-aggressive of Mr. Limbaugh, projecting his own lack on character and such a lack that finds a home in his political beliefs, on his opponents. I believe I can safely advise you that thoughtful, truthful people find that mere rationalizing. However, if you think that is an appropriate way to apologize (and that is certainly your right in this still free country), perhaps you should be looking for that mirror.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 30, 2012 | 10:31 p.m.

Bob Brandon - One answer. Yeah, Right!

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 31, 2012 | 6:57 a.m.

Frank wrote:

"How about an effort to return Truth to our demands both verbally and physically"

In my work, if someone shows something to be true, and enough people also show it to be true, we accept it as true. In politics and religion, accepting something as "true" merely means you agree with it.

Much of the commentary and opinion on both sides of the spectrum is exaggerated or downright false. I don't see this changing, no matter who is president or who controls congress. It is the single largest reason why so little changes.

DK

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub March 31, 2012 | 10:08 a.m.

Competition=greed(+narcissism)*racism / politics + education = you are wrong I am right and even if you could prove me wrong I am still right you &*%**##!

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 31, 2012 | 11:26 a.m.

Mark F. - "I don't see this changing, no matter who is president or who controls congress."

For once I had gotten away from politics. Here you come and drag us right back. You don't see this changing. Can you not admit that exaggeration and falsification are changes beginning decades ago? The man who decided that "the end justifies the means" has been primary in the change. Decades ago most were truthful, because that was expected and demanded from individuals. Huge business deals could be closed with a shake of the hand. Many left homes with doors unlocked, never suffering consequences. Then we began to be taught that most among us were victims of unfair moral restrictions, racism, environmental practices that might destroy their planet etc. Handshakes were out. Lawyers required for every thought of any transaction. For many, the ability to become a "victim", eligible for a government handout is more important than ownership of and responsibility for anything. When pride of ownership and responsibility leave, truth can more easily be shoved out the door as well.

Tho, it is clear you will never admit it, Presidents and Congresses have had everything to do with these changes. We are now about the changes in those arms of our government that will signal our willingness to return to the former culture when we expected others to be honest and true. Hard to do of course, but like a swimmer without a jacket, if he doesn't keep paddling for shore, he will drown.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall April 1, 2012 | 7:35 a.m.

I was suprised when I saw the title of this article. I used to read many of Mr Miller's columns, and made comments in regards to the information contained within. I often had an opinion that was different to Mr Millers and the group of "admirerers" that comment on every story he publishes. It struck me as odd that he would address this situation of promoting civility as he and his followers like Mr Christian stand firmly on one side of the isle and frequently attack those that hold opinions opposite of their own. Months ago, I quit commenting, as I was a target for his fans. I suppose personal growth is good for all people, but based on my experience, this article holds no water due to Mr Miller's track record and the record of his teammates. Saying that tolerance and understanding should increase when no tolerance or understanding is displayed to people that disagree with you is hypocritical. I dream of a society that tolerates differences, but in my opinion this is a false front.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush April 1, 2012 | 8:54 a.m.

May your surprise turn
When there's science to show ye
Some tranquility.

http://tinyurl.com/cm323bl

Quicker, easier,
More seductive - or maybe
Their minds are more taxed.

(Report Comment)
frank christian April 1, 2012 | 10:40 a.m.

matt arnall - Too bad that you cannot understand that "You", to my knowledge, have never been attacked on these pages, only the inherently erroneous statements you have posted have been questioned by me, with the truthful version or links provided at same time. I'm afraid, as others have posted, with no other answer available, you choose to become another "victim".

(Report Comment)
matt arnall April 1, 2012 | 11:14 a.m.

Frank, YOU are exactly the kind of person that I am speaking of. Distasteful, rude, and blind to anything that YOU don't agree with. Your remarks on this story are evidence of what I am talking about. It is a shame that YOU can not identify yourself as a leader of the attacks and mean-spirited comments that occur on these pages all the time. This is true irony.

(Report Comment)
matt arnall April 1, 2012 | 11:53 a.m.

"We need to return to civility of past generations"- the title of this story. The least civil people I see on these pages are people that are older. More irony.

(Report Comment)
Louis Schneebaum April 18, 2012 | 10:22 p.m.

matt arnall is on point here. My immediate reaction to this story is... What about slavery, the eradication/subjugation of native peoples, Jim Crow, internment camps, etc? The further back you go, the less civil human-kind gets. We don't return to civility, because it never existed. If would appear that you, J. Karl Shiller, are referring to the cloudy, malformed images of King Arthur and Normal Rockwell that you have concocted in your own deluded mind. Return to civility? Never existed.

(Report Comment)

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