This is a rant on the trope of "civility" as it's been referenced in the blogosphere of late.
The very term irks me.
What bugs me is that "civility" is typically used, very casually, as a kind of an absolute term; either you are "civil" or you are not. However, the term in practice is necessarily socially relative. You are "civil" or "incivil" according to the definitions of different social groups at very specific moments. This is an obvious point. For instance, the definitions of "proper" and "improper" speech vary widely depending on whether you're talking to your friends or your grandma.
Well, so what. So this:
The rightist commonplace that Atrios and his commenters are "incivil" is a an absolute load of shit.
My point is that "civility" is, necessarily, a socially relative term. The actual truth is not.
Look, Atrios is not very often caught in a lie or a flight of fancy, and neither are his commenters.
George W. Bush really did prevaricate and distend the truth to start a war, his economic policies really are vicious and insane, and his administration really is a nest of parasitical corporate cronyism.
There is no possible "debate" about this. It is just true. Saying so is not "Bush hating." Well, it is. But it is hatred caused by an actual injury. It certainly isn't incivility.
So this is a defense of Atrios, and more, of his commentors.
Whenever I hear the term "civility" in the blogosphere, what does it really mean?
It means "Shut up Atrios."
Or "Shut up Hesiod."
Or "Shut up Kos."
Or "that Kevin Drum is so civil, oh goody, now we can ignore the substance of his arguments and praise him for being nice."
FOR THE RECORD: The "mean and coarse" guys of LGF or (God help us) Misha's dungheap are in fact wrong. So are Insty and all the other more "civil" folks over there.
The commenters here and at Eschaton and yes, even Counterspin Central, are correct, no matter how many swear words they use or how often they mention the Duck Pit (which is, though one would hope this didn't have to be said, a joke...)
There is no parallelism based upon "civility." That is a fraudulent idea.
We are right. They are wrong.
And that's it.