A Call For Civility

From Markos Moulitsas Zúniga.

Reasonable people, including progressives, can disagree on many of the big issues we face today — from which candidate to support in the primary, to whether impeachment is the best way to hold this administration accountable, to the merit of gun control or free trade agreements, to how to handle immigration, to whatever else faces our nation. As a site, we strive to provide a safe haven for debate on these matters without it getting — as has happened of late — so damn ugly.

This is my one and only warning on the matter. I’ll try to be an optimist and hope that this is the last time I’ll have to address it. I won’t let this site become as nasty as your typical usenet forum, and those who encourage that sort of environment should consider themselves duly warned.

Update:
And no, Bush won’t cancel the next round of elections to remain in power. That’s about the most ridiculous conspiracy theory I’ve seen in a long time. Some people on our side can be just as “out there” as the “black helicopter” crowd.

No doubt, some will view this with some sense of irony. Still, a welcome move. Spirited debate and passionate activism can coexist with common decency and sanity.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. M. Murcek says:

    As clear-cut an example as will ever be seen of “wishing for it won’t make it so…”

  2. Rick Moran says:

    Jim:

    Is it hypocrisy to spend 5 years referring to your political opponents as Nazis and Kluxers and then piously proclaim a desire for civility in what some of us less trusting folk might see as a bid to “mainstream” his blog and community?

    I will debate any reasonable lefty out there and have on many occassion. But Kos and his crew have gone beyond advocacy and entered into such pursuits as character assassination, gross exaggeration, conspiracy mongering, and a poisonous partisanship that first saw obstruction as a viable political strategy and now see rolling over the rights of the minority the same way.

    Sorry…maybe when hell freezes over –

  3. jeff b says:

    Presumably, Rick, you have some kind of evidence you can point to where Markos has called someone a KKK member or a Nazi? Daily Kos, unlike many other blogs, has a working search engine. You can see here every article in the history of Daily Kos where the word ‘Nazi’ has been invoked. If you read through the results you will see that every instance documents the use of the word by some third party, usually some wingnut like Glenn Beck.

  4. Christopher says:

    C’mon James! This is a welcome move??? Huh?!?

    The guy says, “to whether impeachment is the best way to hold this administration accountable”. So the starting premise is that the administration must in fact be held accountable, and we all need to have a warm and fuzzy talk about what that should be.

    LOL! This is civil? Liberals like Zuniga will always be bleeding hearts. They HATE George Bush because he is correct about the war on terrorism and successful in directing the excellent economy we have right now. Democrats want to be known as the party of national security but have no plan or idea of how to defeat the enemy. They want control over our free market economy yet plan to take over more and more of it by the government.

    You are for all of this, James???

  5. Michael says:

    So the starting premise is that the administration must in fact be held accountable

    And you see that as a bad thing?

  6. Patrick T McGuire says:

    The Daily Kos has always been routinely polluted with some of the most foul language and contempt for anyone who does not fall in step with their collective ideas of wacko liberalism. Go back and read what they said about Joe Lieberman after he trounced their candidate in the last election. I believe the word hypocrite occurred more than once. And now they have the gall to call for civility!

    I guess losing the Jet Blue matter to Bill Oreilly must have hurt them more than they care to admit.

  7. Bandit says:

    Hey – he’s kidding!

  8. ken says:

    If your not reading Daily Kos you are missing out on some of the best political discussions taking place in America today. The topics range from the war on Iraq to terrorism to health care to education to science to energy to torture to constitutional issues to the economy to politics and on to gardening, art, home maintenance, photography and more.

    But when it comes to pushing back against conservative attacks on our country they do get pretty passionate. But that passion will be needed in order to take back America and restore our nation to its purpose and greatness. As a patriot I applaud them.

  9. Michael says:

    The Daily Kos has always been routinely polluted with some of the most foul language and contempt for anyone who does not fall in step with their collective ideas

    Welcome to the internet. Any forum of sufficient popularity succumbs to this.

  10. G.A.Phillips says:

    Who, Kos or J.J.?

  11. G.A.Phillips says:

    If your not reading Daily Kos you are missing out on some of the best political discussions taking place in America today. The topics range from the war on Iraq to terrorism to health care to education to science to energy to torture to constitutional issues to the economy to politics and on to gardening, art, home maintenance, photography and more.

    Thats good to know Ken

    But when it comes to pushing back against conservative attacks on our country they do get pretty passionate. But that passion will be needed in order to take back America and restore our nation to its purpose and greatness. As a patriot I applaud them.

    But with quotes like this to stimulate debate why go anywhere else.

  12. Michael says:

    Is it hypocrisy to spend 5 years referring to your political opponents as Nazis and Kluxers and then piously proclaim a desire for civility in what some of us less trusting folk might see as a bid to “mainstream” his blog and community?

    A.) This call for civility was directed to his own readers and commenters, so I don’t think you can make this fit the definition of hypocrisy, no matter how much you want to.

    B.) DailyKos is one of the most “mainstream” blogs there are, I don’t think they need fake “calls for civility” to boost their readership or recognition from “mainstream” media and politics.

  13. Bithead says:

    Jeff;

    Presumably, Rick, you have some kind of evidence you can point to where Markos has called someone a KKK member or a Nazi?

    Well, let’s talk about the pope, and what Kos had to say about him, shall we?

    I hate the liberals whining when they do not know how to fight. I don’t care whether this guy is a real Nazi or not. He’s an ultraconservative and we need to demonize (sic) him as soon as possible.

    And of course, all patriots are Nazis:

    July 20th is a holiday of sorts in Germany, a day of remembrance of the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This is not a Fourth of July type of holiday it is more akin to Veterans Day, a day of reflection and atonement. These weren’t George Washington or Thomas Jefferson type heroes but they were patriot’s still.

    Just a couple I’ve had on file for a bit.

    Any other questions?

  14. Bithead says:

    The calls to “civility” will fall on deaf ears, if his own readers and writers were the intended audience. As Kos himself demonstrates, the kind of vitriol that he is now complaining about, he has been directly responsible for , for years. It’s like asking his readers to cut off a hand are afoot, they simply can’t do it.

    Think about it, people; He went to great lengths just recently to explain to us how he was able to kick Cindy Sheehan out of the group, because she was no “longer a democrat”. The implication being what comes up on his site is the heart and soul of the democratic party.

    Know what? He’s right. It is. The kind of vitriol he is now complaining about is precisely the heart and soul of the Democratic party today.

    You’ll forgive me for thinking that this call the civility is nothing but show, and not to be believed.

  15. Brian says:

    Bithead-

    Kos himself didn’t write the passages you cited. The first was written by the author Hillarious, while the second by author Daveparts.

  16. jeff b says:

    Thanks, Bithead, for demonstrating for perhaps the hundredth time that you are unqualified to comment on practically any topic. You can’t even figure out who wrote a blog entry.

  17. Tyrone Slothrop says:

    Sorry to keep piling on, but how exactly, Bithead, does the third quote equate all patriots with Nazis? That is basic logical fallacy. That said, it is quite ironic how a “call to civility” is met w/ the exact opposite. I suppose I’d expect the same if the plea had come from a conservative site; yet another reminder that the golden rule of politics (and apparently, of political discourse on blog comments) is to never let your opponent get away with a good idea. Sad.

  18. Grewgills says:

    Bit,
    Did you even read the second quote you copied?
    The people referred to as German patriots were members of the German resistance who plotted to assassinate Hitler.
    In what universe does that mean “all patriots are Nazis”?

    GA,
    For you to call out anyone for uncivil or unreasoned debate shows that you have no internal irony meter. I can only respond, donkey poop liberal fascist communist poop donkey butt donkey.

  19. Andy says:

    The kind of vitriol he is now complaining about is precisely the heart and soul of the Democratic party today.

    I’ll take the vitriol over what has caused the vitriol: the right’s criminal incompetence and unthinking authoritarian tendencies.

    Keep telling Americans that they shouldn’t be angry about Iraq, health care, and low wages. See how far that gets you.

  20. Bithead says:

    Kos himself didn’t write the passages you cited. The first was written by the author Hillarious, while the second by author Daveparts.

    So, are we now accepting the self positioning of Kos as a MODERATE, based on the idea that he didn’t write what he allowed on his site?

    LOL

    Keep telling Americans that they shouldn’t be angry about Iraq, health care, and low wages. See how far that gets you.

    In short, telling them not to be angry at such things is not needed. They’re not. What they ARE angry at would seem to be indicated by the 14% approval rating currently posted on the Democrats in Congress.

  21. May I humbly suggest that the world isn’t nearly so bleak once you take off the dung colored glasses. Stop and smell the roses and realize that in any historical sense whatsoever things have never been better for most of humanity. Of course, there have always been, and there will always be things that need improvement. Sorry to get all cliche on you, but the perfect remains the enemy of the good.

    Interestingly anough, a very popular recently released book addressed the problems of good people trying to act for the greater good and how that leads to evil because the good people cannot avoid their own desires and biases. Such utopianism is always doomed to fail and fail miserably. But I digress.

    The subtle, nuanced irony of many of these comments in a post about someone’s call for civility seems lost for many of us. Some don’t believe the alligators in the fevered swamp of the Daily Kos merit consideration, while others seem to believe that there’s no swamp at all, much less any alligators there. Clearly, a little perspective is warranted and I’d suggest giving Kos and his friends a chance and the benefit of the doubt. Kos and his minions civility, or lack thereof, will be apparent soon enough.

    Simply put, one should reward positive behavior and this is a step in the right direction. After all, every twelve step rehabilitation program always starts with first acknowledging you have a problem.

  22. Michael says:

    So, are we now accepting the self positioning of Kos as a MODERATE, based on the idea that he didn’t write what he allowed on his site?

    We don’t hold James responsible for the things that G.A.Phillips says either. Nobody is claiming that Kos is a moderate, he admittedly very liberal, the claim is that he is civil.

  23. Michael says:

    What they ARE angry at would seem to be indicated by the 14% approval rating currently posted on the Democrats in Congress.

    And what is the approval rating of the Republicans in Congress?

  24. Andy says:

    In short, telling them not to be angry at such things is not needed. They’re not. What they ARE angry at would seem to be indicated by the 14% approval rating currently posted on the Democrats in Congress.

    You’re saying that because people dislike Congress and so therefore they are not angry about Iraq?

    We may need a bit of a refresher course on logic here.

  25. Bithead says:

    Sorry to keep piling on, but how exactly, Bithead, does the third quote equate all patriots with Nazis? That is basic logical fallacy.

    You may want to ask him. That comment of his was injected into the discussion about whether are not we could no question their patriotism. Apparently, the intent of the comment was to suggest that patriotism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, if the Nazis can do it too. Thereby, of course, directly comparing the two situations. Amazing how that got by the both of you.

    We don’t hold James responsible for the things that G.A.Phillips says either.

    Then again, Philip see isn’t someone who posts here, either. He simply a comment are, as you and I are. That’s a different level of responsibility, I think you’ll agree.

    Nobody is claiming that Kos is a moderate, he admittedly very liberal, the claim is that he is civil.

    That’s certainly how Kos’s trying to position himself, when he starts in with this nonsense. which, of course, begs the question of what kind of politics are we talking about, when even Kos thinks it over the edge? (My own answer: Typical Democrats…)

    I’ll take the vitriol over what has caused the vitriol: the right’s criminal incompetence and unthinking authoritarian tendencies.

    Funny thing; isn’t this precisely the kind of commentary Kos is complaining about?

    Thanks, Bithead, for demonstrating for perhaps the hundredth time that you are unqualified to comment on practically any topic. You can’t even figure out who wrote a blog entry.

    The point wasn’t who wrote it. The point was, and is, who’s responsible for it. Hmmm. That such an obvious point got by EU is perhaps an indication of how one qualified you were to comment on practically any topic.

    Goose, sauce, gander, dinner.

  26. G.A.Phillips says:

    GA,
    For you to call out anyone for uncivil or unreasoned debate shows that you have no internal irony meter. I can only respond, donkey poop liberal fascist communist poop donkey butt donkey.

    my tyring to carve out a niche in the blogging world with silly lingo is a totally different thing then explaining what liberals really are and are up to.

    and who said any one was uncivil or unreasoned? It was not me, maybe that you where condescending, rude, misinformed, indoctrinated, intolerant, bigoted, propagandic, foolish, silly, mad, snobbish, superior, and in so many words all around and generally full of your own poop, but not uncivil or unreasoned, dude I come from the streets and work in a heavy metal fab shop in Milwaukee, I live in the uncivil it dose not have the same meaning to me and I do not fear it.(before you go all crazy most of it’s a joke with alot of meaning in it)

    We don’t hold James responsible for the things that G.A.Phillips says either. Nobody is claiming that Kos is a moderate, he admittedly very liberal, the claim is that he is civil.

    wow, the fascist Nazi homophobic racist sexist bigot Christian is always the fault for everything.

    because all but one of these terms are the daily talking points of the left but acutely fit the left so much better is why I use them.

    and you might want to check how many times I have apologized when I thought That I had gone over the top vs. the liberals who post here.

    and the moral of the story is, spend as much time policing your own thoughts and actions as you do for others…….

  27. Michael says:

    Then again, Philip see isn’t someone who posts here, either. He simply a comment are, as you and I are. That’s a different level of responsibility, I think you’ll agree.

    I would agree that Kos is responsible for his posts and those promoted to the front page either by him or those he grants that privilege to. Outside of that, comments, diaries, those I do not hold him responsible for. DailyKos isn’t a blog, it’s a community of blogs sharing the same platform (like blogspot), and also a roughly shared political opinion (I’m not sure if something similar exists on the right). Kos made his platform open to others, you can go start your own diary there and say whatever you want. Diaries are like super-comments with comments of their own, they do no reflect the thoughts or feelings of anybody but their author.

    That’s certainly how Kos’s trying to position himself, when he starts in with this nonsense. which, of course, begs the question of what kind of politics are we talking about, when even Kos thinks it over the edge? (My own answer: Typical Democrats…)

    Kos is trying to keep his site focused on the shared political opinion of the majority of it’s members. He isn’t trying to position himself as a moderate, he’s trying to keep the site’s commentary inline with the political opinions that brought the community together in the first place.

    I still don’t see how you can take this as a negative, unless you take any action or inaction by Kos as a negative, regardless of what it actually is. Is it time to coin the phrase Kos-derangement-syndrome?

  28. Anderson says:

    wow, the fascist Nazi homophobic racist sexist bigot Christian is always the fault for everything

    Well, if there *were* one person who was at fault for everything, then the fascist Nazi homophobic racist sexist bigot Christian would be an excellent suspect. Though I would have to wonder what denomination he was in.

  29. G.A.Phillips says:

    hey Anderson, I thought you weren’t coming back? and a lesson to the rest of you, that’s how you play the game.

    and I’m not sure if there is a denomination mostly Christians who feel guilty about most of the lies that are told about them, think they are worshiping God, and fitting in all the liberal scientific materialistic,evolutionary, circular logical,unprovable crap, into the Scriptures and still call themselves Christians. This of course is just another pointless theory, and has nothing to the reasoning I was giving in that part of my post, but his point as a question was very funny, as for my answer its up for you with an inward sense of irony to decide.

  30. Bithead says:

    You’re saying that because people dislike Congress and so therefore they are not angry about Iraq?

    If you are an antiwar leftist, what possible reason which you have for not liking Congress, right now? They’re making all the right noises, after all.

    I would agree that Kos is responsible for his posts and those promoted to the front page either by him or those he grants that privilege to. Outside of that, comments, diaries, those I do not hold him responsible for

    It’s his name at the masthead. Telling me you hold him responsible, but you don’t, doesn’t cut it. It’s not even a good dance step. And I’m willing to bet that that would be an argument you wouldn’t even entertain much less use, were such obscenely stupid content seen on LGF, for example.

    Kos is trying to keep his site focused on the shared political opinion of the majority of it’s members.

    The problem with his analysis is the site already is focused on the shared political opinion of the majority of its members. The kind of content that he is objecting to is precisely the heart and soul of the democratic party today. It’s that majority opinion, and the expression thereof, that he objects to, on credibility grounds. Ponder that for a moment.

  31. Michael says:

    It’s his name at the masthead. Telling me you hold him responsible, but you don’t, doesn’t cut it.

    I said I hold him responsible for the content he writes and the content that he endorses (promoted to front-page). I don’t hold him responsible for not censoring the opinions of others in the community he created.

    And I’m willing to bet that that would be an argument you wouldn’t even entertain much less use, were such obscenely stupid content seen on LGF, for example.

    Again, to use G.A.Phillips as an example of obscenely stupid content on OTB, I don’t hold James responsible. I would hold him responsible if he let G.A.Phillips post front-page articles. I don’t read LGF, so I have no idea what it’s like over there.

    The problem with his analysis is the site already is focused on the shared political opinion of the majority of its members. The kind of content that he is objecting to is precisely the heart and soul of the democratic party today.

    As a card-carrying member of the Democratic party, I have to disagree with you. The vast majority of democrats that I know either personally on online do not fall into the category of incivility or insanity that Kos is objecting to. I think recent elections have also proven that the heart and soul of the democratic party is much more moderate than you make them out to be. After all, in 2004 we elected Kerry not Dean, remember?

  32. G.A.Phillips says:

    ******Again, to use G.A.Phillips as an example of obscenely stupid content on OTB, I don’t hold James responsible. I would hold him responsible if he let G.A.Phillips post front-page articles. I don’t read LGF, so I have no idea what it’s like over there.******

    Dang I guess I must be getting up near the Bush pinnacle on Michael hates you scale, I forgot that only liberals could say what they felt, I’ll get back in my place and leave your sacred liberal only right of free speech to them who deserve and understand how to use it, forgive me for being so uppity.

  33. Michael says:

    Phillips, Your right to free speech, like all your other rights, should not be exercised without thought.

    And it’s not that I hate you, it’s that you make a good example of commentary from the right that thinking people would not want to be associated with, much less held responsible for.

  34. G.A.Phillips says:

    Michael, come on dude I put a lot thought into what I write, well most of the time any way.

    And I’m being serious now, in which way do you think I should tone done the truth I believe in and am trying to tell you?

    And when I get frustrated I realize I can be an arrogant bastard, and that I could slow down and go about typing my post in a more friendly manner, and I have also come to realize I know a lot more about both sides of some arguments then a lot of you and far to often take it for granted and dismiss what some of you are trying to say out of hand, I will try to to correct this. so once again I will apologize to any of you that my hasty words or my childish and often spiteful sense of humor have harmed in any way.

  35. Michael says:

    Michael, come on dude I put a lot thought into what I write

    I’m deathly afraid that that may actually be true.

    And I’m being serious now, in which way do you think I should tone done the truth I believe in and am trying to tell you?

    Until the truth you believe in can co-exist with reality, I think you should tone it down in every way.

    And when I get frustrated I realize I can be an arrogant bastard, and that I could slow down and go about typing my post in a more friendly manner

    I’ve been around the internet a time or two, so unfriendly manners don’t even get noticed by me anymore. My objection to the vast majority of your posts is in their content, not their presentation. Though I do realize I have criticized you punctuation (or lack thereof) in the past, and that at least has improved.

  36. G.A.Phillips says:

    Michael,
    Fair enough, and I some time wish that co-exist thing that I think your talking about could happen, but from all the evidence I have seen I don’t think its gonna.