DRAFT: Civility Wars

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I posted this first in June, 2018.   It seems relevant in the context of all this meta- about Writer's Beat.  My general opinions on that topic are to permit things, within reason.  We'll see--this one pushes the bounds pretty far--if that's OK, I'll go further. 


Civility Wars
Let's start with Robert DeNiro's "F--- Trump" expostulation at the Tony Awards.  It was bleeped on live US TV by the six-second buffer manager, but it got out elsewhere and went viral on the Internet.  So, mission accomplished?  I would say not.  He was heavily criticized, even by those who agreed with the sentiment, and it provided an excuse for Drumpfites to gleefully equate the bad behavior of their political opponents with their hero's misbehavior.

I don't care so much about that; we are not required to be respectful to the Orange Dingleberry Who Happens to be Head of State and Chief Executive, (may he eat something foul and sicken beyond recovery), but I do question the efficacy of the comment, which I would add was unscripted and completely out of context.  The sentence is in the imperative form, telling us to do something which I have absolutely no desire to do.  I don't really care about his love life, with Melania, Stormy, or whoever; in fact, it's pretty grotesque even to think of it.

Instead I would have preferred "Depose Trump!"  meaning both to remove him from office and also suggestion to subject him to making a deposition, a formal testimony under oath, which would be a good means to putting him permanently on defensive, if not on the way out (see Clinton, Bill, and Lewinsky, Monica).

Next, the Incident at Red Hen, the restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, when the owner turned away "Trump's Mouthpiece" (as she was called, quite accurately) Sarah Huckabee Sanders, not allowing her party to dine there.  Again, I have no quarrel with the underlying sentiment, and I would assert both that she (the owner) has the right to deny service based on her political opinion and that Sanders, in a public venue, is fair game for members of the public to rebuke or otherwise take her to task.  In Sanders' defense, I will say that her job is a thankless one and an easy target for attack:  press secretaries for all Presidents have to prevaricate, obfuscate, and even lie on occasion at their boss' direction, though Sanders is worse than most in both frequency and manner of the false and fallacious.

I would say, though, that the owner's action is probably a net bad-for-business choice (maybe she accepts that gladly), and that there was a better way to handle it. It was discreetly handled by both parties, so the ruckus was all later. I say, do your job, allow her to be served, but then put her in the arena and let the public have at her.  Something like what the cast members of "Hamilton" chose to do when they saw Mike Pence in the audience.

Then we come to TV comic/political commentator Samantha Bee, who called Ivanka Trump a "feckless c--t".  Everyone focused on the pejorative reference to the female sexual member of the  "female member of the Administration", as Sanders later described her.  Very little attention was paid to the real point, the "feckless" aspect--and again, I do not want to go there literally, to imagine what is involved with that organ's being truly feckless, but I suspect the word choice had something to do with a similar-sounding adjective suggesting a lack of sexual activity.  Anyway, the point was supposed to be that Ivanka should be using her presumed influence with her classic clueless old fart father, to get him to stop being such a (euphemism alert!) deadhead about the DACA Dreamers, for whom she is believed to be sympathetic.

Bee's comment was wrong on several levels: 1) the presumed influence part--Donald is notoriously hard to persuade about anything, and his view of his daughter is that she is a shiny object which reflects well upon him, nothing more; 2) Ivanka's sympathies clearly take second place to her main objective, which is to exploit her privileged position to make lots of money for the family; and 3) the word choice, as I suggested above, was totally a distraction.  For which Bee apologized.

Should Bee have been fired?  That's an economic decision made by the TV network, for their good or ill.  I know that the career of Kathy Griffin was totally disrupted when she made a joke in bad taste about Drumpf being beheaded (though she is on the rebound).  I will say that George Carlin's "seven words you cannot say on television" are being violated, as Bee did, with great frequency these days;.

 I will not judge the balance of increased freedom vs. decreased civility tested in these cases.  I will say that things are heating up and emotions are high, what with an impending Congressional midterm election that is looking very close (both House and Senate),  with the proposals to remove the protection for pre-existing conditions from the ACA healthcare plans, and with the frenzy about the separation of children from their undocumented parents.  This latter is just another example of the intentional cruelty with which this administration governs, only this time it was exceptionally badly calculated in a political sense.





(I apologize for the title, which I had as a subhead for the above. It immediately started appearing all over the mainstream press, which was clearly a coincidence:  it is only too obvious. )