Wake Forest was playing a basketball game a number of years back, on the road at Duke. I was working that game and got a chuckle from the Duke students who were, in unison, chanting the full words for the term "BS" about calls they disagreed with. One official informed Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski that his team was in danger of earning a technical foul if the fans didn't stop using that word. So the coach grabbed a mike and asked the stadium not to say that word again. Sure enough a minute or so later there was an arguable call that went against Duke, and the students immediately chanted, in unison, "We beg to differ!" Very clever.
Shutting down speech with threats can work, but only if the punishment behind the threat is real. Since the left cannot shut down free speech directly, it chooses to seek secondary avenues. Some of those include using government agencies, which the left seeks to do with the FCC, for example, in an attempt to find ways to limit conservative talk radio. One attempt in the mix on the left is to force local radio stations to program their airtime to "reflect the community." Which is to say, for example, forcing KFI in Los Angeles to cease being a predominantly conservative talk station by offering more liberal viewpoints. A backdoor attempt at reviving the Fairness Doctrine. Now, I don't imagine the left will get very far with this attempt, for it's problematic on many levels.
So what does the left do if it cannot force, through legislation or judicial fiat or government might, a quieting of the voices that dissent from its orthodoxy? Well, it does what it does best. It demonizes. The left is extremely good at that -- so good that its adherents are able to demonize while using language that sounds not only non-offensive, but downright...well, civil.
Surely the left will continue, as always, to use core speech weapons, the "-ist" and the "-phobic" to bludgeon those who disagree. There will be no shortage of tagging conservatives as "racist," "sexist," "homophobic." The left has no issue with wielding those incendiary words since the left deems those words civil. They are not civil, but since the left believes that it is the sole arbiter of our language, it can make up the rules as it goes along.
This brings us to the new tactic: using soft-speech weapons. Leftists have been waiting for any reason to trot out the new weapon, to use it in all its power and glory to the cause. So anxious are they that they chose a horrific event -- the murders of six people and the injuries to numerous others in an assassination attempt -- to force the weapon into the game. It doesn't matter that the left chose to be as grossly uncivil as any political party could be in the slanders they immediately launched into -- that's not an issue. No, no, no...the issue is the civility of the language at large in political discourse.
Civil speech is desirable because it allows us Americans to have true, honest political discourse. The left will make the rules defining civil discourse, and everyone else will have to agree to those rules or face labeling and attacks for refusing to go along (again, not an uncivil action by the left, since the means justify the end). The rules will be simple. You cannot use any "attack words" against a politician. That's it. Sounds reasonable and smart. You do know, of course, what constitutes "attack words," don't you? If not, allow me to help you out with a short list of approvable language.
- "Socialist" -- Socialist is an attack word. It is used only for the reason of falsely smearing an opponent.
- "Marxist" -- Marxist is an attack word. Worse than "socialist" and used only for the reason of falsely smearing an opponent.
- "Unpatriotic" -- Unpatriotic is an attack word. It is used only to falsely smear an opponent.
- "Patriotic" -- Patriotic is an attack word used to marginalize opponents by attempting to falsely claim you have the nation's best interests at heart.
- "Terrorist" -- Terrorist is an attack word used to marginalize individuals or groups, even those guilty of terroristic acts.
- "God, Jesus, Bible, et al." -- Attack words used to force moral certainties onto people for nefarious reasons.
- "America" -- America is an attack word because it implies America is not guilty of horrific crimes against humanity.
- "Target, Battle, Fight, Crosshairs, et al." -- All war language is classified as attack language. Take as an exception the word "attack," which is descriptive only for citing attack words.
- "Racist" -- Racist is not an attack word. It is a descriptive word used to protect racial and ethnic minorities from harm, even if it is almost exclusively used falsely.
- "Homophobic" -- Homophobic is not an attack word. It is a descriptive word used to protect sexual minorities from harm.
- "Islamophobic" -- Islamophbobic is not an attack word. It is a descriptive word used to protect one particular religious minority from harm.
- "Sexist" -- Sexist is not an attack word. It is used to protect a gender majority from harm.
- "Intolerant" -- Intolerant is not an attack word. It is used to promote tolerance of all views, except those intolerant ones that tolerance can not tolerate.
- "Xenophobic" -- Xenophobic is not an attack word. It is used to show proof that any view of America as the world's greatest nation is intolerant, racist, sexist, homophobic, and, most notably at the moment, Islamophobic.
- "Wingnut, Nutball" -- Not attack words if used properly to describe the mental state of opponents, clarified by facts presented in the media.
- "Teabagger" -- Teabagger is not an attack word. It is used to describe intolerant winguts and nutballs.
- "White Trash, Hillbilly, Redneck" -- Not attack words if used properly to describe the facts of an opponent's looks or positions.
And finally, "Civility." Civility is not an attack word. Of course not -- it is, after all, civil. If some censorship arises from civility, that's a good thing. The left will ask that we first self-censor so we can begin seeking civility. The left will do its part in civil discourse by agreeing not to use the attack words listed above. That's a fair and honorable agreement. The right, by the way, is free to use the non-attack words as it wishes, so long as they follow the rule of correct usage. That simple rule says that you must follow logic and truth. Logic and truth demand that all non-attack words never be used improperly as an unfair and untrue weapon against any minority, because minorities are never guilty of anything described in non-attack words. Using non-attack words to describe minorities, even when applicable, is itself an attack. This is true in all cases except that of gender, where the minority is the problem.
So in an attempt to be civil in our new civil discourse, I appeal to the tolerant people of the left. I will speak for all of us on the other side when I state clearly that when it comes to a push for civility and the rules we are to follow, "we beg to differ."
John Fricke is a national radio and TV host and conservative opinion commentator. His website is www.johnfricke.pedia.com.