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Dan McLaughlin @baseballcrank
, 15 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
1. The latest hit job on @EWErickson is best understood as an effort to get mainstream outlets to blackball him. That raises an important point about civility, reasoned discourse, & how the enemies of the latter use the former as a cudgel.
@EWErickson 2. Civility is important; it's a virtue, though not an overriding one. But there are problems with policing civility. One, it's a word with varied meanings, so it's easy to accuse ideological enemies of offenses against civility.
@EWErickson 3. Two, people who regularly write and speak provocatively about ideas & events can easily be cherry-picked at their roughest moments - convicted of flourishes as if that's their daily output.
@EWErickson 4. This particular effort comes from a writer who has regularly targeted others (like @benshapiro and @jpodhoretz) who can also be provocative, but are interesting & thought-provoking.
@EWErickson @benshapiro @jpodhoretz 5. The evident goal of targeting such people as "uncivil" is to expunge their reasoned discourse from mainstream outlets. Hence the framing of "why take this person seriously?" The aim is anti-intellectual.
@EWErickson @benshapiro @jpodhoretz 6. It is also asymmetrical, aimed at getting the millennial underlings at news organizations to pressure their bosses to purge voices on the Right. No such mechanism threatens voices on the Left, certainly not outside the very far Left.
@EWErickson @benshapiro @jpodhoretz 7. That the kinds of conservatives who have been sharply critical of Trump are nonetheless cast as "the very far Right" tells you how asymmetrical the project really is. Its objective is to narrow the permissible range of opinion on the Right much more tightly than on the Left.
@EWErickson @benshapiro @jpodhoretz 8. We should, of course, aspire to be more civil, as @ewerickson has often argued. But in the hurly-burly of national debate, reasoned discourse will sometimes be caustic. That alone should not lead us to close minds or silence voices.
@EWErickson @benshapiro @jpodhoretz 9. Indeed,columns like this are aimed specifically at avoiding engagement with the speaker/writer's ideas, in favor of an ad hominem judgment against the speaker/writer as an Enemy of the State, to be deplatformed.
@EWErickson @benshapiro @jpodhoretz 10. Our goal, at all times, should be to have more perspectives, not fewer, and to force our ideas to stand the harsh light of reasoned judgment. Efforts to enforce norms against opinions that are unsettling are enemies of this process of intellectual progress.
@EWErickson @benshapiro @jpodhoretz 11. Have the courage of your convictions. Call out targeted harassment, and yes, call out prominent voices when they cross lines. But don't tell us to cast people out of mainstream discourse when they fight for what they believe in, just as you do.
@EWErickson @benshapiro @jpodhoretz 12. We're adults here. We can handle serious arguments, and we can handle the fact that they sometimes get heated. But most people who want to use that heat to take out their foes wouldn't like their friends being treated the same way.
@EWErickson @benshapiro @jpodhoretz 13. I dislike it when my ideological opposite numbers are uncivil, but I can continue to engage with them. Only when they abandon reasoned discourse for personal harassment do they leave the path of debate.
@EWErickson @benshapiro @jpodhoretz 14. As long as we want to debate, we can have thick skins and call each other to be better. That is all I have ever asked, or demanded, in this business: let us argue, and let others hear & decide.
@EWErickson @benshapiro @jpodhoretz 15. If that prospect scares you, maybe leave this world of political argument to those who aren't frightened by it.
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