Copied below was a short exchange on the question of “civil” language and the culture wars. From the comment section of this article: Duck Dynasty and Dixie Chicks: Stalinism in America –

billofireland wrote:

Phil Robertson has a masters degree,and built a wildly successful business based on his own invention before becoming a television celebrity. If that’s “backward”, let me be backward.
Alessandra wrote:

Indeed. The irony of a bunch of perverted, ignorant liberal pigs calling a decent guy backwards. It’s all just tar and feather social conservatives because we have a conscience.

Lori wrote:

You say you have a conscience, yet you call people names. You need to take a close look in the mirror.

Alessandra wrote:

Where have I called people names? I’m correctly describing LGBTs and others with a homosexuality agenda. Get with the program!

Jace wrote:

You literally called people pigs. That is text-book ad hominem.

I seriously hope you’re being ironic because you just read an article that highlights the need for civil discourse and then called a large swath of people pigs in the comments section.

Alessandra wrote:

I called people who think and behave like pigs “pigs.” That is the very opposite of any kind of hominem. That is describing reality.

I called people who are dysfunctional, unethical, and sexually perverted “pigs.” Where’s the ad hominem?

j4c wrote:

>That is describing reality.

lol You’re seriously calling people you don’t approve of pigs. If you don’t understand how that’s detrimental to civil discourse and exactly what this article is against, then I doubt I can explain it to you.

Alessandra wrote:

Yes, I’m seriously calling people who are dysfunctional, unethical, and sexually perverted “pigs.” And you are saying that this is detrimental for civil discourse with people who are bent on being dysfunctional, unethical, sexually perverted, aside from destroying the bases for society (regarding sexuality and relationships) and doing widespread harm and violence in society -mostly with impunity. In addition to constantly calling social conservatives by every name possible and using other maligning strategies.

Now that is not much of a concern, is it? There are much more important issues at stake.

I also think you missed an important part of the article:
“If the real diversity is diversity of thought, then we should welcome all sorts of ideas into the marketplace of ideas. What we get from this episode isn’t that people want A&E to fire Robertson – they do – but that they want his voice and voices like his silenced. They don’t want their ideas to compete with his; they want his ideas summarily removed from the marketplace. It’s permissible to argue one side of the issue, but not the other if someone finds it hurtful or offensive.”

If I call the Nazis “pigs” or if I call them “repulsive and violent,” I am basically saying the same thing. Would you still say that calling a Nazi a “pig” is detrimental for civil discourse? Would you say that calling a Nazi “repulsive and violent” is detrimental to civil discourse? Only if it’s discourse with people who are or who love Nazis.

And if you can’t understand this, I can’t help you either.


As I was reflecting on these issues of freedom of speech, civil discourse, and reality clashes that this exchange addresses, I wondered if there is any more purpose in calls for “civil discourse” from liberals – who are so readily unethical.

When I examine long threads of exchanges between liberals and conservatives on sexuality issues, and that includes those threads requiring civil discourse, I think most of the talking kind of arguments have been exhausted. What now stands bare are two gigantically conflicting models for society. I don’t know if any civil discourse is going to resolve that. I wonder if that ship has sailed. It is now simply a fight for hegemony, and this is no mere fight, it is a war, and like all wars, not only truth is the first casualty, expect no limits to the vileness of the tactics used by your enemies.

(Added Dec. 30, 2013)

Michael Servetus left a very good comment, so I am copying parts of it here:

I really liked that exchange. You really nailed it with the Nazi comparison. The problem is belief or lack of it. People have been convinced and fully believe that the Nazis were evil pigs in their behavior, they were behaving sub-humanely.

Now when it comes to this era, people have been so thoroughly confused and stripped of their confidence that they dare not assume or say they are right, though leftists do, it is usually the counterpart on the right who is the only one experiencing this sort of dilemma, falling for the hate rhetoric weapon.

The interlocutor who responds in this exchange, “j4c”, reveals this when he says “you are seriously calling people you don’t approve of pigs”. This is a refusal or failure of judgment, to come to a conclusion, to take a stand.

It is, in other words, just a matter of mere subjective opinion and disapproval and therefore you have no legitimate way to call them pigs. He cannot see or dare to believe that it is not just you, or me or our opinions, battling with other equally legitimate opinions. …

In addition we share a common rationality with all humans and so they know what we are saying is correct. By denying it, they are disrupting the common human bond and saying there is no common rationality there is no universal human nature, all things are open to debate and private opinion. This is a resurgence of sophistry, those fellows who didn’t believe in wrong or right but that all was convention. And that might was right that created a system everyone who was weaker had to follow.

Sophists believed in language and words uprooted from reality so much that they lost sight of reality. They thought that because they could say it or imagine many things and reason their way to insane absurdities, that it was all just as real and that all is a difference of opinion. Sophistry leads to the belief that no reasoning has superiority over another reasoning, it’s all about playing the word game. This is similar to the modern ethos of “because I feel, it is real and legitimate and no passion or lust or desire is better or worse than another.”