Who Else is Passionate for Moderation?

September 29, 2010 | 102 comments
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aTDS_RallyPosterLast General Conference Elder Quentin L. Cook suggested that we need to improve the quality of discourse in our country, following the Church’s own statement of almost a year ago. And the suggestion may have drawn some action, since in July the Church-owned Bonneville Media’s radio stations started letting the most egregious of its talk show hosts go, including Sean Hannity. More recently, the Deseret News stopped allowing comments on news story pages and KSL dropped comments altogether on its website, all because of the lack of civil discourse. The overall message seems clear: “Take it down a notch.”

Of course, there is another impulse we all feel. I’ve often found myself wanting to go out and fight for a good cause; wanting to be passionate about something righteous. As a youth, that impulse sometimes came out as “righteous anger,” or so my Bishop called it; in what I think now was a polite way of telling me that I was wrong—surely such anger can never be “righteous.”

These days it seems like the passion for correcting the world is fanned into an anger motivated by fear and ideology rather than fact and reason. [As if it is urgent that everything get corrected now—reminds me of an XKCD webcomic.] But I’m convinced that the best way of approaching the evils and problems of the world usually isn’t the extreme. The answer to our immigration difficulties isn’t harsher and harsher laws. The answer to drug problems isn’t to lock everyone involved up. The answer to abortion isn’t to kill everyone that provides that service. There are ways of solving problems that don’t follow the most extreme reaction. And the best way to solving problems doesn’t lie in anger and fear and getting overly excited.

So I was pleased when the idea that our political discourse needs to be “taken down a notch” was one of the slogans for John Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” scheduled for October 30th in Washington DC. The rally is trying to restore civility and moderation in discourse. The website for the rally claims:

We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.

I’m not trying to hold up The Daily Show as some kind of paragon of virtue (or even dialog). Nor am I suggesting that the political views expressed there are even mostly ones I believe in. I do disagree with things said there often.

But, I do believe the rhetoric about this rally is a step in the right direction. It is, I think, about civil discourse and moderation. It is, I believe, on the mark. And, I hope that by showing up at the rally I can add one more voice to the call for reason and civil discourse. And perhaps even persuade those involved in political debate in our country to “take it down a notch.”

[If anyone else is planning to go to the rally, I’d love to know about it!]

102 Responses to Who Else is Passionate for Moderation?

  1. Dan on September 29, 2010 at 7:18 am

    We’re thinking about going as well, Kent.

    On the point of “civility” in the political discourse, I am curious on the subject why we should be civil. When, in the course of humanity, have people, when free to choose their leadership, have they ever been civil about it? Having studied in more detail the beginnings of our own country, I gotta say, those guys, people like Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and the like, were not civil to each other. In fact, I believe Aaron Burr and Hamilton got into their little fight over politics. It ended badly for both, of course, but at what point have we been civil?

  2. Ardis E. Parshall on September 29, 2010 at 7:51 am

    And here I thought by the headline that you were going to be blocking some of your ruder commenters, and I quickly read through to see whether I was one of them.

    I’m not sure I would use the word “moderation” as an equivalent for “civility” — I think it is possible and sometimes necessary to maintain a solid position and a sureness of conviction that doesn’t mesh with the wishy-washy lukewarmness associated with “moderate.” But even while you might retain that conviction of your own righteous position, it can be expressed politely, discussed rationally (i.e., with a minimum of sloganeering replacing real thought), and — more especially — with a due regard to the rights of other people who are in opposition.

    That politeness, rationality, and regard are what is missing too often in the public sphere. If by “moderation” you mean elevating those elements, then I’m on board. (In theory, if not yet successfully always in practice.)

  3. RogerDodger on September 29, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Nothing has pleased me more than to see the church drop the professional, multi-millionaire hatemongers from its Bonneville stations. That it might have suffered economically because of taking this action makes it even more impressive. I don’t think anyone is suggestion that we remove passion from our national discourse, but “toning it down” cannot be a bad thing. Some of us remember when U.S. senators would bash each other mightily on the senate floor and then walk off together arm-in-arm. Having worked in the senate (and the House) I saw much good will pass across the aisles. Surely, a return to that kind of civility would be better than the current state of things where the other party is viewed as the enemy.

  4. SilverRain on September 29, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I think from my limited experience with politicians, that they mostly say what they need to say in order to get to a place where they can do the things that are really important to them. They rarely take political disagreements personally. Democrat or Republican, they’re all part of the same dinner parties, families, and social lives. The bluster is for show because that’s what rallies the people.

    If you don’t get people emotionally engaged somehow, they aren’t going to bother to vote. And hot-button topics are a cheaper way to incite emotion than talking about the issues politicians actually deal with in the day-to-day.

    As far as civility goes, that covers a bigger sphere than mere politics.

  5. Mark B. on September 29, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

  6. Shawn on September 29, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I agree that the quality of discourse in this nation has devolved significantly to the point that the “loudest” tend to get heard. But the media is as much to blame for this phenomenon as those who are the actual voices. The baptist church threatening to burn Korans is a great example. That was epic media fail–they gave this guy so much exposure it made the rest of the world actually beleive he speaks for all americans. The ironic thing is that Jon Stewart’s views are hardly moderate and the discourse of his show is hardly what I would call civil. Mr. Stewart verbally paints a hitler mustache on Glenn Beck, George Bush, and every other person he disagrees with, all with the excuse that it is mere parody. If he wants others to drop it down a notch, he needs to be the first to take his own advice.

  7. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Calls for political moderation are usually either (a) wishy-washiness, (b) really calls for civility, or (c) partisan attempts to find some “neutral” story line for attacking the other side.

    I hesitate to speculate which one this is, but I note that the post gives three examples of extremism, all of which are caricatures of conservative political positions, and then endorses a counter-Glenn Beck rally by a liberal comic.

    In conclusion, Kent Larsen should be shot.

  8. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Sacred honor compels me to mention that on the off-chance Kent Larsen is not shot, and actually has a point, then his point is the reason why I am opposed to a National Popular Vote initiative.

  9. Last Lemming on September 29, 2010 at 10:04 am

    [If anyone else is planning to go to the rally, I’d love to know about it!]

    If I can be convinced that there is some substance to the event beyond promoting the careers of Stewart and Colbert, I will come. I believe you have my email (the one I read, not the one I one attached to my comment) if you want to twist my arm or arrange a meetup.

  10. Chris H. on September 29, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I would go, but it is not in the family budget.

  11. Chris H. on September 29, 2010 at 11:04 am

    BTW, I am all in favor of radical moderation. radicalmoderation.wordpress.com

    Kent, I am hoping the Don Irvine might sponsor us for this rally.

  12. Clark on September 29, 2010 at 11:22 am

    On the one hand I fully agree with Stewart’s comments. On the other, why didn’t he believe this when George Bush was President and he was as bad if not worse than anything Beck’s said?

  13. Clark on September 29, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Just to add, prior to the 2004 election I finally gave up watching the Daily Show. Just because it was so shrill. And I don’t even like George Bush!

  14. SLO_Sapo on September 29, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I don’t know if it’s moderation that I’m looking for. I think I’d rather see some passionate pragmatism. The doctrinaire bickering is really preventing us from solving problems and preparing for the future.

  15. Tom D on September 29, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I could be wrong, but this looks like yet another Democrat campaign rally to me. Perhaps this will be something more positive than I expected like Glenn Beck’s impressive “Restoring Honor” rally. In that case I will be pleasantly surprised. In the meantime I don’t feel like rallying to any Democrat’s side this year, unless they are moderating their own radicals. Hopefully, moderate Republicans will soon be more powerful in Congress than the radical Democrats that we’ve been stuck with for the last 2 years, but we still have 2 more years of Jimmy Carter redoux.

  16. Brad Dennis on September 29, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I wish I could go, it would be hilarious. I love John Stewart. Oddly enough even though his show is a comedy it is in many ways more informative and better done than the shows of many liberal and conservative pundits on the 24 news channels.

  17. Sherpa on September 29, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I’m going to the DC rally. Civil discourse is something I believe in strongly, and although I’m not the biggest fan of either the Daily or Colbert Show, I too feel this is a step in the right direction.

    Dan, that’s a pretty weak statement justifying behavior.

  18. Kent Larsen on September 29, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Dan (1): “On the point of “civility” in the political discourse, I am curious on the subject why we should be civil.”

    Um, how about: Ephesians 4:29; Matt 5:37; 3 Nephi 12:37; 1 Cor. 15:33 etc.

    Ardis (2): Actually, I think I mean a bit of both civility and moderation, although perhaps less of moderation. I do see the need for passion in politics.

    SilverRain (4): I agree in general with your analysis. However, the price of getting involvement through emotion is often bad decision making. I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust any decision I make when I get caught up emotionally, especially when the emotions are what are sometimes called “neegative” emotions.

  19. Raymond Takashi Swenson on September 29, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Jon Stewart makes money by making fun of people, especially people who are involved in any way in political discourse, especially people who are advocates of more traditional viewpoints.

    Glenn Beck makes money by making fun of people, especially people who are involved in politics, especially people who are advocates of more “progressive” viewpoints.

    In his interviews with real political figures, Jon Stewart takes on a more serious stance and purports to be the voice of the rational American.

    In his TV show, Glenn Beck interviews real political figures with a more serious stance and purports to be the voice of the real American.

    Stewart is no more a “moderate” voice than Beck is. His “rally” is an instrument for caricaturing Glenn Beck’s own successful event in Washington, DC, which was in fact NOT a right wing hate fest, as Stewart would like to characterize it, but an event closer to a Fourth of July patriotic rally, which honored, among others, Martin Luther King, Jr., with speeches and prayers by members of his family and sermons by African-American pastors.

    Stewart invites us to feel “holier than thou” toward Glenn Beck and political conservatives, telling us that we have a duty to not listen to the rhetoric of the media figures favored by the Tea Party movement because it is “immoderate” and “extreme”.

    My prediction is that the program at the Comedy Central rally will not consist of messages to unite all Americans behind common principles, but will focus on attacks on Beck, Limbaugh, Republicans, George Bush, and the Tea Party.

  20. Jamie S on September 29, 2010 at 11:56 am

    When did ksl.com drop their comments section? I didn’t believe you, so I checked for myself, and yep they’re gone. That surprises me, half of the stories on ksl.com seemed like troll bait.

    Jon Stewart and Glenn Beck have the exact same job, imo, Stewart is just more upfront about his role as entertainer. I’m curious to see what he does during the rally.

  21. Kent Larsen on September 29, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Mark B. (5):

    I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

    Really? Barry Goldwater’s quotes? That’s your source for guidance?

    You should think about that position carefully. Its the same position that justifies killing abortion doctors. Its the position that is used to justify vengance and vigilantism.

    And even if this extremist rhetoric somehow applied, in most of our debates just what liberty and justice are is far from clear and obvious — both sides claim that they are seeking liberty and justice.

  22. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    “both sides claim that they are seeking liberty and justice.”

    That was the obvious response to Dane Laverty’s comment a few days ago that justice and charity impelled pro-SSM conclusions. Probably you made that response in private instead of publicly on the blog where someone could see it.

  23. DH Sundwall on September 29, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I’m all for true civility when discussing strongly held opinions and hashing out disagreements. Like Adam Greenwood mentioned, I’m skeptical for many calls to civility as either just a surrender to wishy-washyness or even more likely, an insincere attack on your opponent’s credibility while avoiding the issue.

    But holding a rally to smugly mock those who went before you hardly sounds like a new call to civility. I suppose this is a reaction the Glen Beck rally last month. While I’m not a big fan of his, it didn’t sound very controversial or uncivil.

    I’m glad there is a new focus on civility, but it would have been nice to have this a few years ago too. Unfortunately, the timing and source of too many of these new pleas make me think its more self-serving than sincere.

  24. Kent Larsen on September 29, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Oh, Mark B. (5):

    I assume that under your Goldwater quote I should have been much more extreme in November 2008 when my friend was deprived of his liberty by an unjust law.

  25. Chris H. on September 29, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    “Jon Stewart makes money by making fun of people, especially people who are involved in any way in political discourse, especially people who are advocates of more traditional viewpoints.”

    I have decided, that as a public service, I will do the same…for free.

    The rally is not for civility…but sanity.

  26. Kent Larsen on September 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Adam wrote (7): “In conclusion, Kent Larsen should be shot.”

    So, I guess you don’t believe in civility? You think when the First Presidency urged civil discourse, it doesn’t apply to you?

  27. Kent Larsen on September 29, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Adam (7) wrote “I note that the post gives three examples of extremism, all of which are caricatures of conservative political positions.”

    Perhaps you have to hold “conservative political positions” to see these examples of extremism?

  28. Kent Larsen on September 29, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Chris H (11) “Kent, I am hoping the Don Irvine might sponsor us for this rally.”

    Ha. I’d love that. I haven’t seen Don in person in years.

    He’s one of the conservative extremists I like the most!! (GRIN)

    Right up there with Adam!!

  29. Chris H. on September 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Kent #28,

    I agree.

  30. Mark D. on September 29, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Add me to the list of people objecting to the equivocation of “moderation” and “civility”. Why shouldn’t this post be titled “Who Else is Passionate for Civility?” instead?

  31. jjohnsen on September 29, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Bonneville stations around the country still carry Rush, Glenn Beck and Dr. Laura. So I’m not sure if getting rid of Hannity shows a move toward civil discourse. Probably a ratings or money thing.

    I don’t think the Colbert/Stewart rallies have much to do with civility, so complaints about Stewart going after Bush don’t really have anything to do with it. I think the rallies are about going against the extremism and insanity that have hit overdrive starting with the last election. It’s not enough to say “the President’s healthcare policy could cause financial difficulties in the coming years”, you have to call him a Marxist/Socialist/Nazi who wants to rape the country and leave it for dead while holding a sign with a picture of him being a monkey dressed as Bin Laden.

    I’d love to attend if I could afford it. I think Stewart is great at his primary responsibility, calling out the media on doing a piss-poor job.

  32. jjohnsen on September 29, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    “BTW, I am all in favor of radical moderation. radicalmoderation.wordpress.com

    Kent, I am hoping the Don Irvine might sponsor us for this rally.”

    I have no idea how long this site has been around, but I’m already in love with it.

  33. Mark B. on September 29, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Kent

    I suppose there’s no way to draw a tongue in cheek when posting comments here.

  34. Brad Dennis on September 29, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Raymond (#19)

    You’re probably right that the rally will simply be to make fun of the ultraconservative pundits. But Jon Stewart is a comedian by profession, not a political pundit. He isn’t supposed to be held to the level of journalistic professionalism that others are. There is no comparison between him and Glen Beck.

  35. Brad Dennis on September 29, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Hey Adam Greenwood, having read your other posts, I didn’t realize that you were such a militant conservative. I am always surprised to find such a diverse pool on commenters on this blog.

  36. Back Row on September 29, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    I’ll be there with bells on! Well, not really bells. Probably something more moderate, like jeans and a hoodie.

  37. Kent Larsen on September 29, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    TomD (15): “I could be wrong, but this looks like yet another Democrat campaign rally to me.”

    That possibility had occurred to me also. I’m hopeful, based on the rhetoric, that it won’t be. If it turns out to be a Democrat event, I’ll also be dissapointed, and will certainly say so.

  38. Dan on September 29, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Kent,

    #37,

    I highly doubt Democratic politicians will be there.

  39. Jay S on September 29, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    #19 – Do you actually watch The Daily Show?

    Sure – by number of minutes Stewart satirizes conservatives more than the other side, but I wouldn’t put him at the opposite side of the political spectrum from Glen Beck and the TPE. Perhaps left of center, but not far left, and make fun of both sides.

    Kent, Bravo for this excellent post. It echoes thoughts I have had for some time. And like most people, I tend to like that which supports what I believe.

  40. Jay S on September 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    37 & 38 – this rally has been criticized by several leaders who believe that it will sabotage get out the vote efforts for the Democrats.

  41. Alison Moore Smith on September 29, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Can one be “passionate” for “moderation”? :)

    I’ll just throw a ditto at Raymond (#19), Adam Greenwood (#7 & #8) — with the aside that I’m baffled at your response in #26 — and others. John Stewart has no interest in moderation, civility, or sanity. He displays this on a “Daily” basis. And Colbert is even less so. But I hope you enjoy being there with the Huffpo gang. (Also SO well known for moderation, civility, and sanity.)

    The answer to abortion isn’t to kill everyone that provides that service. There are ways of solving problems that don’t follow the most extreme reaction.

    I sure hope you’re quoting that last line to all the women lining up at abortion clinics every day instead of just to the people willing to go to prison to stop them. Yes, I think killing the doctors is extreme. But I’d probably qualify sucking an innocent baby into a sink at least as harshly.

    Maybe it’s a matter of definition. I think sanity AND civility would call for an absolute, on-the-house-tops, top-of-the-lung raging outcry against, say, partially delivering babies only to stab them in the skull with scissors before they are “really” born. (Oooo, Barbara Boxer just gives me warm fuzzies! She’s so moderate and civil!) Sipping tea and discussing inconvenient pregnancies doesn’t really cut it. Although it is, perhaps, more moderate. :/

    I haven’t seen a View episode dealing with the plight of dismembered babies. (OK, I’ve never seen AnY episode of The View, but…) instead, we have people crying out to tell other people to stop being passionate about liberty and freedom and the like. Weird. (And, yes, I’ve been to Tea Parties and they have been, without question, the most civil gatherings I’ve ever been to for large groups passionate about a cause.)

    Really, though, I think the whole response is pretty funny on the logic front. Who knew conservatives could get so many professional protesters up in arms?

    When conservatives have been mostly politically silent for eons, rarely protesting anything or speaking up much — instead just being busy working, taking care of our families, and such — they finally have political issues that compel them to action. And now that they actually gather together to make a statement — in IMMENSE numbers, no less — suddenly political activism, organization, and protest become uncivil and unseemly. Who knew? No matter that’s it’s mostly a bunch of middle-agish working folks who almost without exception smile and politely applaud shocking things like freedom, responsibility, faith, and honor. They still, really, should just shut up and go back to work to pay for the next entitlement progressives (in either party) want to pass to buy the next vote.

    #34

    But Jon Stewart is a comedian by profession, not a political pundit. He isn’t supposed to be held to the level of journalistic professionalism that others are. There is no comparison between him and Glen Beck.

    Except that Beck isn’t a journalist either and is an entertainer. If you think he hasn’t been clear that he’s not a journalist, you are simply uninformed. He repeatedly makes that point. And (#39) do you really watch Glenn Beck? He also addresses problems with both sides. He’s not a conservative, not a republican, and he regularly slams republicans.

    Moderation calls for me to self-regulate my comments. I think one in this thread is enough.

  42. Kent Larsen on September 29, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Raymond Takashi Swenson (19):

    Jon Stewart makes money by making fun of people…

    Glenn Beck makes money by making fun of people…

    Glen Beck is a commedian? Does my sense of humor need adjusting?

    Stewart is no more a “moderate” voice than Beck is. His “rally” is an instrument for caricaturing Glenn Beck’s own successful event in Washington, DC, which was in fact NOT a right wing hate fest, as Stewart would like to characterize it

    Although I never claimed that Stewart was a “moderate” voice, he does seem to me to be quite a bit more rational and less inciting than Beck. At least that’s the way it seems from my viewpoint.

    As for Beck’s rally, I do think many expected something much more extreme than what it ended up being. I was pleasantly surprised. You could be right that Stewart and Colbert were looking for something more radical.

    But from what I saw, neither Stewart nor Colbert tried to make anything out of Beck’s rally after it turned out as it did.

    Stewart invites us to feel “holier than thou” toward Glenn Beck and political conservatives, telling us that we have a duty to not listen to the rhetoric of the media figures favored by the Tea Party movement because it is “immoderate” and “extreme”.

    Doesn’t seem that way to me, except to the extent that humor in general tends to make human beings feel superior to those being made fun of. This is, of course, an error, since many of the errors made fun of are things that all of us do—hypocrisy, misstatements, errors of judgment, dissembling to avoid looking bad, etc.

    Clearly, Raymond, our perspectives are different on this one. Perhaps that means we will agree next time

  43. SilverRain on September 29, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    #18 Kent—Exactly. And, unfortunately, it means that people begin to conflate “politics” and “patriotism” with “passion” and confuse volume with conviction, and conviction with correctness.

  44. Kent Larsen on September 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Adam (22): “That was the obvious response to Dane Laverty’s comment a few days ago that justice and charity impelled pro-SSM conclusions.”

    You assume I read Laverty’s comment. I did not.

  45. Kent Larsen on September 29, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Mark B. (33): “Kent, I suppose there’s no way to draw a tongue in cheek when posting comments here.”

    Not without a lot of words explaining what you are doing, no.

    I apologize if I took your comments wrong.

    But I do thank you for helping me remember what a lot of hooey Goldwater’s statement is!

  46. Kent Larsen on September 29, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Allison (41): “the aside that I’m baffled at your response in #26″

    I’m very confused then. When someone writes “In conclusion, Kent Larsen should be shot” is that civil? Wasn’t that what the First Presidency said we should not do?

    What is there to be baffled about?

    As for abortion, clearly I’ve touched a nerve for you. Yes, given a proper opportunity, I would advice any woman seeking an abortion against it. I do see abortion as taking a life. But most of your comments about the issue baffle me—so lets not go there on this post.

    instead, we have people crying out to tell other people to stop being passionate about liberty and freedom and the like.

    You’ll have to tell us exactly where this happened. If you mean that by calling for civility or moderation I’m telling people not to be passionate, I think you are very wrong. These ideas are very compatible with being passionate. Its simply a matter of self-discipline and respect for others.

    When conservatives have been mostly politically silent for eons, rarely protesting anything or speaking up much — instead just being busy working, taking care of our families, and such — they finally have political issues that compel them to action. And now that they actually gather together to make a statement — in IMMENSE numbers, no less — suddenly political activism, organization, and protest become uncivil and unseemly. Who knew?

    So, you’re saying that the 1960s protests and the current Tea Party protests are the same, just on different issues?

    Perhaps. I’m certainly willing to concede that the 1960s protests often weren’t civil or moderate. To a degree I think that was wrong, and should be condemned. But I also think that at least some of the 1960s protests (civil rights and segregation, for example) were about liberties that were a bit more important than whether or not we are forced to pay for our own health care or whether the government is wasting the money it collects from us in taxes. There is also a big difference between what is said by protesters at rallies and what is said by pundits on television. Were the incivilities just coming at rallies and protests, I don’t think they would be such a concern for me.

    Regardless, I’m NOT going to defend the incivilities of the 1960s protests.

  47. Geoff B on September 29, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Kent, if I didn’t know you better, I would think this post and your responses were written by Stephen Colbert or at least the writers of the Onion. How you could write that Jon Stewart is in favor of “civility” is beyond me. Have you ever seen his show? There are a lot of adjectives one could use for his show (which, by the way, is usually quite funny, in my opinion), but “civil” is waaaaaaay down the list.

    And then you didn’t get that Adam Greenwood was joking (and making fun of himself, btw) about the whole “Kent should be shot” thing? Wow. Just wow.

  48. Mark B. on September 29, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Kent

    No apologies necessary. It was kind of amusing to watch your immoderate response. : )

  49. MarkP on September 29, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Laff. Stewart is hardly “moderate” — he’s a loony raving lefty. I doubt the collective board of this site has watched a full hour of Glenn Beck’s show or a full 3 hours of his radio show.

    It’s clear that T&S is less and less about religion and more about politics and navel gazing. You’d rather mock a Mormon whose opinions you’ve never heard except in soundbites and embrace anyone who mocks your religion openly so that you can all be “enlightened”.

    Enjoy your self-hating echo chamber.

  50. MarkP on September 29, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    And you folks might want to read the actual text of the First Presidency’s message: “Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues. People of faith have a democratic right to express their views in the public square without fear of reprisal.” That’s referring to intimidation and property damage, not discussion that might get loud.

  51. brian larsen on September 29, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    MarkP,
    Read the message from the 1st Pres. : http://beta-newsroom.lds.org/article/the-mormon-ethic-of-civility

    It says, “Furthermore, the Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible.” And also says: “stories of rage and agitation fill our airwaves, streets and town halls.” So it’s definitely more than property damage they are worried about.

    Everyone else, it also includes the word “moderation” as in “Where are the voices of balance and moderation in these extreme times?” So stop with the anti-moderation already in this context.

    Feel free to complain about Stewart, but give him (and us) the same right to complain about Beck. I would say this isn’t an anti-rally rally, but a “turn it down a notch” rally. Oh wait, that’s what it is.

    I would be there, but this semester is Comprehensive Exams for my wife. I’ll be there in spirit. Kent, please post about it afterward!

  52. Kevin Winters on September 29, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    For those who are calling Stewart a “loony raving lefty”, you’ve apparently missed his episodes the last handful of weeks with their relatively frequent and non-party-based criticisms of Obama. Stewart is not a Democratic fanboy and his serious interviews show both wit and intelligence, even if you don’t agree with him.

    And how anyone can say that about Stewart and be incapable of saying the same about Beck is beyond me…

  53. Kevin Winters on September 29, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Alison (#41):

    And now that they actually gather together to make a statement — in IMMENSE numbers, no less — suddenly political activism, organization, and protest become uncivil and unseemly. Who knew?

    You mean like how the Conservative pundits demonized those who protested Bush? Not saying two wrongs make a right (they don’t), but it’s happened and is happening on both sides, which is why a call to civility is needed for all parties involved! This, quite frankly, is also why I don’t want to be affiliated with either party; wanted to make that clear before I get labeled Democrat/Liberal/Marxist/Nazi. ;o)

  54. Raymond Takashi Swenson on September 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    A few years ago, before Glenn Beck rose to national prominence and got his TV shows, first on CNN and then on Fox, the majority of time on his show was mostly entertainment, with only the slightest reference to political issues. The same was true for his earlier books. Beck has beome more serious about politics as it has become clear that he has a huge national audience, and his response has been to take political discussion more seriously, though still with a good deal of humor, much of it directed at mocking himself. Unlike Rush Limbaugh, whose shtick is to proclaim himself blessed with “talent on loan from God”, Beck is self-deprecating but concerned. I frankly find his commentary more consistent with what one expects from an LDS member speaking in a public forum than the often flip statements made by the guys on KSL Nightside, which I can hear up here in the Washington once the sun goes down.

    At a time when the Congress and White House are in the hands of people who are intent on enacting the dream agenda of the Democratic Party’s Left Wing, constrained only by the fear of a few Democrats from states like Utah that voters are finally going to notice what they are doing, we have an environment in which someone like Beck can use his popularity (yes, people like to listen to and watch him) to respond to the concern that many Americans have about radical expansion of Federal power over our lives. President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have created a demand for people like Beck who can articulate the views of many Americans.

    People like Stewart and Colbert have a wonderful talent for making off-the cuff observations that are witty and insightful. But there is no question that they lean to the left politically. To the extent that they criticize President Obama, it is likely to be because he is not leaning far enough to satisfy them.

    As another commenter noted, during the 2004 elections, a witty and farcical look at the foibles of all politicians was turned by Stewart and his colleagues into an instrument for ridicule of Republican candidates, especially George W. Bush. That is the point at which I gave up what had been a daily habit of watching “The Daily Show”. A program that had been an equal-opportunity deflator of inflated political egos became just another de facto cog in the Democratic machine that dominates most of the mass media. Stewart’s statement to his interview guests that his is a “fake news show” has acquired a hollow sound as he has used the program to promote a consistently Progressive viewpoint. My guess is that, as he realized how influential his show is with its fans, he felt an attack of responsibility that would not let him pass up the opportunity to ensure the Truth was given to his audience. As i said, I think the same phenomenon has transformed Beck in recent years. I think both men have a basic personal integrity that would not allow them to rest easy if they passed up the opportunity to use their respective public influence to support the causes they each see as in the public interest. I see both men (and Colbert too) as sincere beneath their mocking.

    And I would add one other observation. My guess is that both Stewart and Colbert are more educated and intellectually sophisticated than Beck, but Beck is doing his darnedest to educate himself and us on the issues. His embrace of some of Cleon Skousen’s writings is, in my view, more naive than malicious. He is willing to expose his ignorance as he tries to learn and pass on what he believes he has learned to his audience.

    Honestly, I would rather have Beck, Stewart or Colbert, men of what I perceive as basic integrity, in the Senate, instead of Al Franken, who based his political career on vicious ad hominem attacks, or someone with the aggressive atheism of Bill Maher.

  55. Dan on September 29, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Raymond,

    I frankly find his commentary more consistent with what one expects from an LDS member speaking in a public forum

    Glenn Beck does not speak as an LDS member, unless you are indicating that LDS members use hateful, vile language whilst also breaking the commandment to not bear false witness of your neighbor. If that’s so, then I’m in the wrong religion.

    but Beck is doing his darnedest to educate himself and us on the issues.

    that’s about the funniest thing I’ve heard about Glenn Beck in a long time. he’s failed terribly at educating himself. He can’t even spell oligarchy. Glenn Beck is an idiot.

  56. brian larsen on September 29, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Dan,

    Well Beck, or someone behind him, has a knack for marketing, you have to give him that.

  57. Cameron Nielsen on September 29, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Kent, you may be interested in this awesome talk by Cecil Samuelson about moderation in which he talks about having balanced zeal in different aspects of our lives. Pres. Samuelson never ceases to amaze me with his insights, although they are humbly delivered through his quirky Utah accent.

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700063666/BYU-president-Cecil-O-Samuelson-counsels-students-to-balance-activities-manage-zeal.html

  58. Mark D. on September 29, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    I am not a big fan of Beck’s style, but to suggest that he uses “hateful, vile” language is ridiculous in the extreme. Automatic credibility destroyer, open yourself up for public mocking, you name it.

  59. Stan Beale on September 30, 2010 at 5:03 am

    As an old (suply your own noun) from the 1960’s, I seem to remember similar discussions from near fifty years ago. Those of us who participated in the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, the Civil Rights protests and sit-ins as well as the Anti-War movement would have laughed at someone preaching moderation. Moderation was the call to sit by and do nothing, it amounted to giving tacit consent to evil.

    If any doubt the reasons for activisn you can watch “Harvest of Shame,” an Edward R.Murrow documentary about the treatment of farm labor on OVGUIDE. Read a synopsis of The Pentagon Papers, a governmet sponored history of the Viet Nam War. Look at video of Bull Conner releasing police dogs on peaceful marchers near Birmingham, Alabama.

    I was lucky: I had sore feet from a lot of walking, I dodged a few rocks and had two accidental tear gassings. Others I knew got the daylights beat out of them by Southern policemen, spent a fair amount of time in jail or lost their jobs. Nearly all of us knew we might have to pay a price for not being moderate. But the evil was too great.

    The conundrum that we faced is the same as the Tea Party is facing today-every nut group and organiztion that has its own agenda is attracted to such movements. In our case, Martin Luther King would be countered by Stokely Carmichael or Cesar Chavez by the Socialist Workers Party. Was, and is, the price for activism too great?

    The one thing that gives me confidence in activism is the American people tend to sort things out in the end. A simple test I think bears this out. If you are in your twenties or thirties, have you ever heard of Stokeley Carmichael and the SWP? Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez?

  60. Kent Larsen on September 30, 2010 at 5:23 am

    Geoff B (47):

    How you could write that Jon Stewart is in favor of “civility” is beyond me. Have you ever seen his show? There are a lot of adjectives one could use for his show (which, by the way, is usually quite funny, in my opinion), but “civil” is waaaaaaay down the list.

    Geoff, you are expanding what I said. I didn’t claim that The Daily Show as civil. I said the rhetoric for the rally talks about “taking it down a notch.”

    And then you didn’t get that Adam Greenwood was joking (and making fun of himself, btw) about the whole “Kent should be shot” thing? Wow. Just wow.

    Adam’s humor escapes me — like the jokes I get from my very conservative sister sometimes. I can’t figure out how they are supposed to be funny.

  61. Dan on September 30, 2010 at 5:34 am

    Brian Larsen,

    Well Beck, or someone behind him, has a knack for marketing, you have to give him that.

    I will give him that. No doubt. Still doesn’t change that he’s an idiot. :)

  62. Dan on September 30, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Mark D.,

    I am not a big fan of Beck’s style, but to suggest that he uses “hateful, vile” language is ridiculous in the extreme. Automatic credibility destroyer, open yourself up for public mocking, you name it.

    Are you freaking kidding? What planet are you living on, Mark? Because here on Earth, Beck uses hateful, vile language. Maybe on Bizarro world you live on he uses cute cuddly language, but that would be on Bizarro world where things are exactly backwards to real life.

  63. Kent Larsen on September 30, 2010 at 5:40 am

    MarkP (49): “It’s clear that T&S is less and less about religion and more about politics and navel gazing. You’d rather mock a Mormon whose opinions you’ve never heard except in soundbites and embrace anyone who mocks your religion openly so that you can all be “enlightened”.”

    Hmmm. You do know that T&S is one of the more rational and conservative voices on the bloggernacle, right?

    Yes, we talk about politics. The bloggers here have a wide range of political views and include some who support Beck.

    As for “mocking a Mormon whose opinions you’ve never heard,” please show me where that happened in a post by one of the T&S bloggers. I think it has happened in some comments. But I don’t think any of our posts have mocked anyone.

  64. Kent Larsen on September 30, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Stan Beale (59):

    I enjoyed your comments and perspective. The 60s and early 70s had a significant effect on my perspective, and I quite agree that the view then was (to cite Goldwater of all people) “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”—or, it was among the nut jobs you mention at the end of your comment.

    Of course the vast majority of the protesters didn’t see moderation as accomplishing anything. But the majority also didn’t resort to violence. It is, I think, those who did that were truly being immoderate.

    Its clear that the protesters of that time did use extreme language. But it is also worth noting that the ones we admire the most today generally did not.

  65. Dan on September 30, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Sorry Kent. I will not use that word anymore.

  66. Mark D. on September 30, 2010 at 6:51 am

    Because here on Earth, Beck uses hateful, vile language

    I suspect you think that anyone who expresses an opinion you strongly disagree with in an animated or polemical fashion is being hateful and vile. I think that is silly. I don’t doubt you can find quotes from Beck that are arguably dubious or wrong, but I doubt you can pull any significant number that are defensibly “hateful” or “vile”.

  67. Dan on September 30, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Mark D.,

    I suspect you think that anyone who expresses an opinion you strongly disagree with in an animated or polemical fashion is being hateful and vile

    Not at all. I strongly disagree with George W Bush but I never thought he used hateful or vile language. I strongly disagree with you, but I don’t think you use hateful or vile language. :)

    but I doubt you can pull any significant number that are defensibly “hateful” or “vile”.

    hateful is defined as full of hate or “very unpleasant” as google says, (and what google says, goes). :) vile is defined as “extremely unpleasant” :)

    Do you really want examples?

  68. Geoff B on September 30, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Kent, what you wrote was:

    “So I was pleased when the idea that our political discourse needs to be “taken down a notch” was one of the slogans for John Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” scheduled for October 30th in Washington DC. The rally is trying to restore civility and moderation in discourse.”

    Based on the content of his show, how could any sane, moderate or civil person think Jon Stewart actually cares about restoring civility and moderation? Promoting his show? Sure. Making fun of people who disagree with him politically? Sure. Poking a stick in the eye of Glenn Beck and the people who agree with him? Definitely. Trying to offer the left an alterative and buck them up before the elections? You bet. Civility and moderation? No way.

  69. Kevin Winters on September 30, 2010 at 8:13 am

    For me, the vilest/most unpleasant common rhetorical technique of Beck is to equate either Obama or the Liberals with the Nazis. This should be patently offensive to anyone as it simultaneously downplays the horrors of the Nazi Party (by equating it with the significantly less monstrous acts of modern Democrats) and outrageously magnifies the “evils” of modern Democrats (by equating it with the significantly greater monstrous acts of the Nazis). Second to this is the common claim that Obama is intentionally trying to destroy America and aid the terrorists, which should be similarly offensive due to the same guilt by association mentioned above (i.e. simultaneously reducing the perceived horrors of one group and increasing the perceived horrors of another). Who here honestly believes that Liberals are doing something even remotely equivalent to the horrific acts of the Nazis or Al Qaeda? Yes, this is vile, both as an offense to Liberals and to those who suffered immeasurably at the hands of the Nazis and Al Qaeda.

  70. Kevin Winters on September 30, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Geoff (#68): watch this and tell me who is more civil and moderate in the conversation.

  71. Dan on September 30, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Not to mention, Kevin, that the Nazis of Germany were highly conservative, and also earned praise from conservatives both in America and England during the 1930s.

  72. Brad Dennis on September 30, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I am utterly surprised how many people on this blog, including Alison and Adam, almost seem opposed to civil discourse. And yet you support Glenn Beck?!!! A man who called President Obama a “racist…with a deep-seated hatred for white people?” For you supporters of Glenn Beck I strongly urge you to visit mediamatters.org where his long history of incendiary rhetoric, willful ignorance to facts, misinformation, and conspiracy theory is well documented. I hope that you will reconsider your support for Glenn Beck and turn to more well-informed sources from which to get your news.

  73. Kent Larsen on September 30, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Geoff B. (68):

    “Based on the content of his show, how could any sane, moderate or civil person think Jon Stewart actually cares about restoring civility and moderation?”

    While I disagree with your supposition, this is really beside the point — your claim that I said The Daily Show was civil and moderate, when I did not make the claim.

  74. Clark on September 30, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Dan, the only fundamental difference between the National Socialists and the other Socialists in Germany was their view of international relations. To call the National Socialists conservative in the American sense of conservative is pretty ridiculous.

    Geoff, I dislike uncivil discourse, but I fully agree that the Daily Show often goes there as well. I’ve not listened of late so I don’t know what he’s been saying about the Tea Partiers. But from 2003-2006 it was pretty horrendous. To me there’s not a lot of difference between Stewart, Beck or Limbaugh beyond Stewart being much funnier. But the other two have a strong comedic aspect to their shows along with lots of lampoons. The main difference is that while Stewart definitely is moderate left he’s a bit more equal opportunity with his attacks. Especially on media. MSNBC gets it as often as Fox does. When was the last time you heard Limbaugh attack Fox?

  75. jjohnsen on September 30, 2010 at 10:15 am

    “I doubt the collective board of this site has watched a full hour of Glenn Beck’s show or a full 3 hours of his radio show.”

    I bet you’re wrong. There’s a reason I dread Thursdays, and it’s because my Tea Partier employee gets to choose the radio station. So every Thursday x however long Beck has been on in Utah is how I know he’s not civil.

    “When conservatives have been mostly politically silent for eons, rarely protesting anything or speaking up much — instead just being busy working, taking care of our families, and such — they finally have political issues that compel them to action. ”

    Eons? Really? The Tea Party is just the John Birchers with access to social media. Instead of Communism hiding behind every door, now it’s Socialists. Then of course you have the raving lunatics that went after every thing both Clintons did in the 90s. They might not have had one specific organization, but they were just as loud and obnoxious as Beck and Palin.

    You act as though the Right is minding their own business, but this one time, and one time only, the Constitution and our nation is in such peril that they are FORCED to leave their families and take a stand against those dirty Lefties that have been loud and uncivil for all these years. It’s just not accurate.

  76. WJ on September 30, 2010 at 10:17 am

    “The answer to our immigration difficulties isn’t harsher and harsher laws.”

    This argument seems a little straw man-ish to me. I think most people frustrated with illegal immigration are asking for more rigorous enforcement of the current laws.

    “The answer to drug problems isn’t to lock everyone involved up.”

    (?) Another straw man.

    “The answer to abortion isn’t to kill everyone that provides that service.”

    Point for Alison on this one. Considering the frequency of abortions compared to the frequency of attacks on abortion providers, it seems you may be focused on the wrong form of extreme behavior here.

    Stewart’s ploy doesn’t strike me as an actual exercise in restoring sanity or moderation. He’s a self-promoter, yet somehow the fact that he is a comedian entitles him to a pass. Case in point, he recently went on O’Reilly’s show and accused O’Reilly and Beck of being self-promoters, somehow missing the irony of say, his very presence on O’Reilly’s set. Nah, I’m sure he was there because he was just trying to help out his pal O’Reilly’s ratings. Stewart’s shows are an exercise in immoderate behavior. They are funny, yes, but they hardly help to elevate the national discourse.

  77. Kevin Winters on September 30, 2010 at 10:25 am

    WJ,

    You’re acting as if Stewart doesn’t realize that he’s a self-promoter. I think he’s very aware of this. As he said in another interview (paraphrasing), “My show follows another about prank-calling puppets!” While this doesn’t “entitle him to a pass”, it does put him in a different category from O’Reilly and Beck, who claim to be providing truth and journalism. Stewart realizes his place, frequently points this out, and yet is being held to a higher standard than the Right holds its own. Let me say again: I really don’t care for either the Right or the Left in current political discourse. However, I do see a one-sidedness that is incredibly stark. It reminds me of this gem that I recently stumbled on (the second part particularly emphasizes this issue).

  78. Kevin Winters on September 30, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Oh, and before anyone else says this, I’ll put it plainly: yes, the Left does the exact same thing! There, point made and agreed on, so please don’t repeat it ad nauseum.

  79. Dan on September 30, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Clark,

    #74,

    Dan, the only fundamental difference between the National Socialists and the other Socialists in Germany was their view of international relations. To call the National Socialists conservative in the American sense of conservative is pretty ridiculous.

    That is not true. I’ll go to wikipedia, our ultimate authority that trumps all others…

    While national socialism opposes Communism and other left-wing sentiments, the ideology favours certain aspects of leftist ideologies such a progressive taxation, minimum wage, affordable housing, public healthcare and education. On the other hand, national socialism incorporates certain right-wing aspects into its agenda, such as capital punishment, pro-life stance on abortion, anti-immigration and revitalization of traditional gender roles to name a few.

    I will easily concede that Nazis favored some leftist principles, but they clearly favored right-wing principles too. To try and link Nazism solely to the left is wrong, and likewise to the right. Thus I retract my earlier point.

  80. WJ on September 30, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Tell me Kevin, how do you, on the one hand:

    “see a one-sidedness that is incredibly stark”

    and then on the other hand believe that:

    “yes, the Left does the exact same thing!”

    Now how can you and I come to agreement if you can’t seem to agree with yourself?

    Frankly, Stewart’s problem is that he views himself in the same way you view him: he sees himself as being different, as being in a separate “category” from the others, to use your words, which seems to blind him to his own hypocrisy. When he chided O’Reilly for seeing “green,” he had clearly lost sight of his own greed. And his acknowledgement of his poor behavior is hardly a noble attribute. Its like me confessing that I’m a liar, but that its okay, because I fully acknowledge that I’m a liar, so I’ll just keep on lying. The argument seems rather hollow, and even childish.

  81. Kevin Winters on September 30, 2010 at 11:45 am

    WJ,

    I did not contradict myself: both sides are one-sided; both sides expect more from the other than they do from their own. It’s a common phenomenon among all groups, political and non-political.

    On your other point, Stewart is a comedian, not a newscaster! That is his other category! His job is to poke fun at people, while he succeeds quite well at actually speaking the truth on more than one occasion. Even though there is some overlap as he is a “fake newscaster”, you are obviously expecting more from him than you are from O’Reilly. Comedians are entertainers: they’re goal is to entertain in whatever way will appeal to their audience; put in starker terms, their goal is to pander to their audience. A newscaster, on the other hand (and obviously speaking from an ideal place that very few, if any, actually practice), is supposed to provide facts regardless of whether they appeal to one person or another, or one crowd or another. I don’t believe that category difference between the two is that difficult to see, but I could be wrong…

  82. Clark on September 30, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Dan, I mean that both favor central control of the economy. I don’t see the death penalty as an intrinsically conservative issue nor is immigration. (Both parties seem pretty split on both – although admittedly more conservatives favor the death penalty) Abortion I’ll grant you, but that’s a single issue. What I take to be most constitutive of conservativism though: markets was just alien to National Socialism. In terms of the economy it’s pretty hard to tell the communists apart from the Nazis.

  83. Clark on September 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Kevin, I think it a bit of a cop-out to say Stewart is a comedian. His show focuses in on the news. Limbaugh and Beck do a lot of comedy on their shows. So they aren’t exactly normal pundits. I know Stewart hides behind that “I’m just a comedian” line but it doesn’t work. A comedian can have a lot of influence (as Stewart clearly does) and definitely can contribute mightily to the breakdown of civility in our society.

    I agreed with Stewart when he was on Crossfire. News shows ought be news shows and there’s not a lot of actual news on cable news. But that said for him to try and draw such a big distinction between an entertainment show that mainly does news from news shows that mainly do entertainment is a bit silly. I wish news shows had far less entertainment but let’s not kid ourselves. That’s what most are.

  84. Dan on September 30, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Clark,

    Dan, I mean that both favor central control of the economy.

    So did fascists, who are a right-wing ideology. I enjoy watching conservatives lump all bad guys and bad ideologies into the left wing, or that anything related to state control is somehow a leftist thing. Just accept it, Clark. Conservatives love state control. Let’s say on the issue of marriage. Them conservatives sure love their state control. Them conservatives sure love their state controlled and state run military.

  85. Clark on September 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Or “conservative” is just a fairly useless label.

  86. Kevin Winters on September 30, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Clark,

    It wasn’t intended as a cop-out. There definitely is some overlap and Stewart himself has said that they try to be as accurate as they can be. But the truth of the matter is that The Daily Show is firstly entertainment and secondly a news source. They make no claims to being unbiased, comprehensive, or “the most trusted name”. If they provide genuine news but don’t get laughs, they haven’t done their jobs. If Beck et al. provides genuine news but doesn’t get laughs, they have still done their jobs. That is a genuine and important distinction and isn’t just a cop-out, even though it can be taken too far (I am trying not to take it too far).

    Here’s one reason why I think this distinction is important: when Beck first started he called himself a clown and said that people shouldn’t take him seriously. Obviously that has changed as he now paints himself as a savior-figure in the midst of widespread conspiracies on the Left. The importance that these figures place on themselves does make a difference; even with his influence, Stewart at least knows his place.

  87. Dan on September 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Aren’t all of them fairly useless, Clark?

  88. Adam Greenwood on September 30, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    many people on this blog, including Alison and Adam, almost seem opposed to civil discourse. And yet you support Glenn Beck

    How well you put these things. It truly shocks that despite my opposition to civil discourse I support Glenn Beck.

    What is even more shocking is that you were able to divine my abject allegiance to Glenn Beck despite me being mumchance.

    One more thing, before I forget: you are a vile traitor to your country. You worship Satan. You and your family and friends and acquaintances and greengrocer should be tarred, feathered, uncivilly discoursed, and subjected to polka music.

  89. Adam Greenwood on September 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    So, I guess you don’t believe in civility? You think when the First Presidency urged civil discourse, it doesn’t apply to you?

    With all due respect, since when is politely urging your execution uncivil? I want bloody purges of my enemies, true, but politely, and only in moderation.

  90. Clark on September 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Dan, that’s a somewhat good point although I suspect you’d find more unaminity among self-identified socialists than self-identified conservatives. I guess my point is more that if you were to look at the conservative movement in the US as defined by say William F. Buckley it’s hard to make many parallels to National Socialism. Whereas if you were to say look at American Communism or even the major socialist groups in the US there were many more parallels to equivalent European groups. Now many of those groups changed. Thus the other German socialist party after WWII moved towards a neo-liberalism rather than socialism proper over time.

  91. Clark on September 30, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    “They make no claims to being unbiased, comprehensive, or “the most trusted name””

    Beck and Limbaugh do? Also Fox does a bit of a cop out making a distinction between their proper news shows and their pundit shows. Which is fair semantically of course. And they do have a few liberals on the network.

    I don’t listen to Beck enough to know how he portrays himself. When I’ve listened my main complaint was more about there being way, way too much padding of content.

    As for Steward and Colbert knowing their place. I don’t think so otherwise we’d not have seen Colbert testifying before Congress.

  92. Dan on September 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Adam,

    You and your family and friends and acquaintances and greengrocer should be tarred, feathered, uncivilly discoursed, and subjected to polka music.

    You had me at polka music. I can stand everything else, but polka music is beyond the pale.

  93. Dan on September 30, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Clark,

    I’m sorry but I’m going to have to disagree with the notion that Nazism has more in common with today’s American left than not. In Germany in the 1920s and 30s, the rise of Hitler was fueled by anger over the loss in World War I. Most of the anger was from soldiers returning home, and their anger was directed at leftist parties who they blamed for the Treaty of Versailles. The German Worker’s Party was very very right wing in the 1920s based on the criteria for the political spectrum at the time. You bring up William Buckley, who of course came to prominence after Nazism died, and redirected the definition of today’s conservatism. German political parties from before 1945 that leaned right wing are named as such: “Conservative People’s Party”, “German National People’s Party”, “Christian Social Party”, “Christian Social People’s Service”, “National Socialist German Worker’s Party”, “National Socialist Freedom Movement.” Left leaning political parties: “Communist Party”, “Communist Workers Party of Germany”, “Social Democratic Party of Germany”, “Socialist Worker’s Party of Germany”, “German Democratic Party”, “German Free-minded Party”, and “National Liberal Party” among many others.

    As you can see, socialist ideas at the time were across the political spectrum in Germany. Thus, how much one party believed in the use of the state in controlling the economy in Germany is irrelevant in attempting to ascertain their spot on the political spectrum, because political parties from all parts of the spectrum had similar beliefs. However, in Germany, no one doubts that the National Socialist Party was extreme right wing.

    They obviously cannot be compared to the political spectrum today, or of course the political spectrum of the United States. For example, in Germany today, you have the Social Democratic Party, which is a left leaning party, but you also have the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, which is a right leaning political party. Does that mean they’re communists? Well, to someone like Beck, the very use of the word “social” implies a cancerous virus to the system…you get my meaning?

    You may not like it, but historically, the Nazi Party was extreme right wing, but judging based on modern American criteria, hold positions revered by both right and left.

  94. Clark on September 30, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Dan, I didn’t say American left. I said European socialists of the era.

  95. Clark on September 30, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    To add, with a few exceptions the American left are basically neo-liberals who have rejected most socialism (despite the cries of the Tea Partiers) but who want a social safety net more akin to Europe but without all the central control of the economy. (In many ways the 21st century American economy is more controlled than many purportedly socialist countries – look at say Denmark) I know the Tea Partiers see any social welfare as socialism but I prefer to keep a distinction (despite there being some defensible semantics there)

    Now I disagree, in part, with the neo-liberal position. But I wasn’t claiming neo-liberals were socialists.

    With respect to Germany though I think if you look at the policies and ideology of the Social Democrats in Germany now and back in the 1930’s and 1920’s you’d see they changed massively overtime to embrace the neo-liberal position in opposition to the socialist position. (See the Wiki for more)

  96. WJ on September 30, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    “I don’t believe that category difference between the two is that difficult to see, but I could be wrong…”

    Kevin, the difference between comedian and “newscaster” is readily apparent (though I think you make a mistake by classifying O’Reilly and Beck as mere “newscasters” when both of them freely acknowledge that they are opinion shows that provide commentary on the news, not simply regurgitation of the day’s events — and since they are so candid about their roles, ought we not to give them a pass, as you want to do with Stewart?)

    But your whole argument that “Stewart at least knows his place” is truly meaningless. It doesn’t matter whether someone acknowledges their own absurdity. The devil himself “knows his place,” yet this recognition, so apparently ennobling to you, hardly excuses the behavior. If the point here was not their (Stewart/Beck) impact on civility, but target audience or purpose, then your distinctions would be relevant. But because we are talking only about their impact on their viewership and the public, the distinctions are completely irrelevant. Stewart is funny, he is not civil (even though by design), so when I see that he is proposing a rally to return civility back to the public square, I am hardly reassured.

  97. Dan on September 30, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Clark,

    Thanks for that clarification. I think we’re on the same page now.

  98. brian larsen on September 30, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    WJ,

    I can’t see what you are suggesting exactly. For me, there is a relevant and powerful difference between someone being uncivil by design for satire’s sake when everyone (beyond a certain exposure to the world)knows it, and someone being uncivil in their seriousness. The first could be a lamb in wolf’s clothing, albeit a troublesome lamb. The second is just a wolf. Granted, the first could also be a wolf, but we can only know it when the guise comes off. I think it has here, and I see a lamb with a grunge, but who wants to deal with it civilly and seriously this time b/c of the stakes.

  99. Kevin Winters on September 30, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Clark,

    Well, Beck has presented himself as a strong proponent of honor, honesty, reverence, hope, thrift, humility, charity, sincerity, moderation, hard work, courage, personal responsibility, and gratitude. Stewart has presented himself as no such thing; he consistently says that he’s a comedian. Sure, Beck says, “I hope I’m wrong”, and willingly admits “I’m an opinion show”, but it is obvious to anyone that listens to him (even someone who tries to listen with a charitable ear to his claim to being “opinion”) that he’s 100% convinced that he is right and that those who disagree with him are “idiots” (as per his bestselling book)! That there is a conspiracy of Marxists/Communists/Quasi-Nazis trying to destroy America and the Constitution! He is thoroughly convinced that he is completely right on all points of his conspiracy theories.

    Let me also add that, if you look at Stewart’s non-Comedy Central interviews, he is respectful and civil, starkly so when he’s on O’Reilly.

    And, yes, Colbert did appear before Congress, but so has Lady Gaga, Julia Roberts, Christie Brinkley, Michael J. Fox, Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys, Kevin Costner, Sheryl Crow, baseball legend Roger Clemens, Mr. Rogers, Dennis Quaid, Nick Jonas, and many more. And so have many no-name average people with no particular political expertise. Celebrities are used for their celebrity status, and occasional expertise (Kevin Costner’s case comes to mind on that one); that they appear before Congress does not in itself demonstrate that they think too highly of themselves.

  100. Kevin Winters on September 30, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Here is Colbert’s testimony. Obviously he’s not taking himself very seriously…

  101. Kevin Winters on September 30, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    WJ,

    In addition to Brian’s comment, I would add that Stewart has been respectful in his non-comedy interviews. Certainly more respectful than his Conservative interviewers.

  102. Kent Larsen on September 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    I think we have reached the point in which further comments are mostly useless.

    I regret to inform those against this rally that, in fact, I’m still planning on attending.

    If I get up the organizational ability to arrange a place where those who are going can meet, I’ll add an additional comment here, and send those who indicated they are going a note.

    And, unless my plans change, I’ll post a note of my impressions afterwards.

    So long, and thanks for all the comments!