“Civility” Has Nothing To Do With It

Simulposted at Daily Kos

My recent diary (warning: gazillions of comments) about political debate has been widely referred to as a call for civility.

                                                It is not a call for civility.

It is a call for higher standards of political debate.

Here on this political web site.

The diary was a group effort, with many contributors. Perhaps some of the basic meaning of the diary was lost in that process and in some of the more “controversial” passages.

THIS diary is my personal attempt to emphasize what TO ME are the key points.

Allow me to attempt to clarify, to get to the bones if you will.

THIS diary is by no means an attempt to address ANY issue except the issue of civility. You are free to raise other issues, but I will attempt to only answer comments dealing with this one mistaken interpretation.

From the diary, hopefully removing any of the “controversial’ sections and focusing on the meaning of the diary:

The use of insults and abuse roundly condemned in the Real World have become the de rigueur stock in trade of the warring  political factions at Daily Kos and have by and large taken the place of substantive debate. When this is accepted as the standard of ‘debate,’ real, substantive, debate becomes impossible.

Any and all comments based on fact, reason and logic are instantly rendered irrelevant when they are responded to with personal attack.


And make no mistake about it: This is a political tactic used among political factions, exploiting personal animosity for political gain.


They’ve made it personal because personal attacks, and charges of various isms, can be used to discredit their political enemies. They use these personal attacks and charges to try to make their political opponents less credible, and thus less politically powerful.

It does not matter whether they have the acumen or knowledge of the history of political tactics needed to realize that this is what they are doing. It does have a history. It started with Nixon/Segretti, got upped to weapons-grade efficiency during the reign of Reagan/Bush/Atwater, and did indeed, with the aid of Fox News, become THE standard of political conversation under Bush/Rove.

These political tactics have a name: Character Assassination and the Politics of Personal Destruction.


Because, as we all know from watching eight years of Bush/Rove, these tactics work.


The lowering of all thought and debate to the lowest common denominator, mere insult, IS the goal of the tactics.


We have NO intention of, and no interest whatsoever in, censoring, suppressing, or even limiting legitimate political speech.


These Rovian tactics are designed to shut down debate, and have no other purpose.


We are open to discussion on the details of how best to establish and codify that standard, suggestions of rule changes, and suggestions of enforcement by the management of Daily Kos. We hope to raise exactly those issues in future diaries.

NO ONE was called Rovian. The tactics  ALL of the political factions on Dkos use, occasionally or otherwise, in heated political debate are identified as Rovian.

One quick example, extrapolate from here.

Comment: “I think this policy is bad because….”

Response: “You are a teabagger”

These political tactics also include (but are not limited to) distraction and derailment of the point of the conversation; The topic. The most common example of this tactic on Dkos is “jumping the Tip Jar” with an inflammatory off topic comment.


Civility has nothing to do with it.

This is about using dishonest political debate tactics to gain a political advantage in political debate on political issues on a political blog.

For their record ideally I am all for civility. I only have one problem with it. No one is capable of practicing it in political debate.

Thus I was forced long ago to admit that I was not capable of it and so I surrendered to what I call the Armando Axiom: All calls for civility are hypocrisy.

Since no one, even those calling for civility, are capable of actually practicing it.

I am calling for honest political debate.

Without the use of the debate tactics perfected and deployed by Karl Rove and Fox News.


I freely admit that I have used these tactics in the past. I state now that I will try my best to stop using them.

If it is pointed out to me that I am using these tactics going forward, I will seriously examine that charge.


NO ONE has co-signed, collaborated or pre approved this diary


Skip to comment form

  1. mode for one side and heaven forbid you deal with things like facts and rules and evenly applied rules of debate.

    I’ll go over there and rec the diary…

    • Edger on April 9, 2010 at 12:18 am

    we can be respectful and civil and supportive and believe him for a change, yes?

  2. Kos is done.

    The place has really never been a left or progressive site, and it’s gone far to the right now–attacks on Kucinich, the call for mandates, the support for everything the Democrats do, even when they attacked Republicans for doing the exact same thing just a year ago.  In addition: it’s chock full of paid by industry bloggers, pretending not to be.  

    The place is a laughing stock.

    Let it die on it’s own.  

  3. Also waste of time. Pearls before swine or some such.

    They don’t want to hear you. Might as well pound that last nail into the coffin that is Dkos and bury it in the backyard.

  4. and you are just the person to try……

    what I suspect is a period of catharsis….

    and during this time the folks who are trying to capture all dialogue will be scarce…..

    then a gradual return to the work at hand……

    subvert any thing which could create change…..

  5. Ommmmmmmmmmmm.  Inhale.  Exhale.

    When something is dead, or about to pass on, I think we should witness that in appreciation for what it was, for its best moments, for its contributions, for how it was. And we should wish it ease in its journey.

    So too, dKos.  The effort to reform/resuscitate it might be a necessary gesture, but what you’re hearing imo isn’t asthma, it’s a death rattle.  I think we should behave accordingly.    

  6. at dkos these days. The tactics are Rovian and so is the motivation behind them. Like the Republicans they so love to mock they have no interest in anything but power and winning and authority. They have been tainted by the cult of Obama to the point of not caring about what the tactics used are as long as their reality is not challenged for what it is. ek and Aramdo were both forced out because they would not be ‘civil’ the reality is that both refused to let the zombies and their tactics deter them from addressing the real issues and the real dangers to our country and politics.

    Face it they are good Germans who will not look at what is going down and instead call it political reality and worse expect the left to except this as the good and support it. They have as much an understanding of democracy as the teabaggers do, which means they don’t and they do not want to. They work hard to maintain their delusions and will use whatever tactics work to not have this Emperor disrobed. It’s creepy, I have decided it’s delusional on my part to keep going back and fighting them and I made the first step to unhook from the zombies by taking them off the toolbar. It’s a start. You can feel compassion for these people but if you agree to play you end up contributing to every thing you are for. You do not help them. You feed their hate, fear and love of power.

    When I’m told that I should not use hyperbolic language to the Obmambots and they are given equivalency and respect, and allowed to organize for Rovain tactics against other community members there can be no debate as there is no honest intent.If  a clear playing field means that were not allowed to talk about their cult yet they can hijack and use their tactics as long as they are ‘civil’ I’m done and so is dkos it’s irrelevant and that’s a shame. Just be glad that in the alter blog universe their are people of good spirit to debate with. They will just hurl poo at their teaparty counterparts and worship in bwd’s shrines. Meanwhile the beat goes on and we can do something about it, they are in their God’s words a distraction a boring one at that.          

  7. Be excellent!

  8. It’s also what is debated at GOS.  There is a term that Russians use that you may be familiar with, it’s called “apparatchik”.

    It is my contention that honest debate takes place in an environment in which motivations and affiliations are understood.  And that a defense of the status quo for its own sake is fundamentally corrupt.  That is, you’re not debating any higher good or any best course, you’re just defending what is (and, for those people involved, debating who is) for the sake of defending it, him, or her.

    This is also the fundamental definition of conservatism (defending what is for its own sake) that is conservatism by any other name, even when wielded by a Democrat.  You can argue that what is is a better choice than any other alternative and not be a conservative.  It’s when you start defending what is (or who is) for no real reason except political benefit to accrue to that thing or those individuals, not out of any higher good or what you might honestly be able to advocate is best for society.  

    It is the lack of debating standards, yes, but it is also the basic lack of honesty and integrity in the debate.  

    For example, the site mission  

    • melvin on April 9, 2010 at 11:47 am

    except of course I couldn’t cuz I’m fucking banned for some reason none of those dickwads – even the sainted MB – would ever deign to explain.

    Which is why it is a complete waste of time. You can’t talk to people who just pull the plug on you at their whim.

    Face it – and I know you don’t want to – that place is a shithole. The sooner it dies the better for us all. It serves no purpose except being a cash machine for mamz. That wouldn’t even be so bad, if he had something intelligent to say once every two or three years.

    • dkmich on April 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    it isn’t anymore.   Trying to change that without support from Kos and MB, isn’t going to happen.  

    • melvin on April 9, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Typhoid mamz

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