Notes on Civil Discourse and Elaine Boosler

Will someone please tell me what is “uncivil” about calling crimes crimes, and criminals criminals? There are, after all, proscriptions against inciteful language, hate speech, and of course against downright seditious speech. Now, as we all know, Sharron Angle, Sarah Palin, the odious Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, et al are on record as having crossed that easy-to-understand line into calling for sedition—what else to call Angle’s “2nd-Amendment remedies,” or Bachmann’s “I want you armed and dangerous on this issue,” and the rest? There’s nothing else to call it but the intent to move the Republican herd toward violence.

Now, it’s one thing to say Bush and Cheney are criminals, likewise Wayne LaPierre of the NRA Mercenaries’ Guild, whomever, but another altogether to say So-and-So should fucking die. Now that, I suggest, is uncivil speech.

Take Elaine Boosler for example. Her HuffPo piece is a model for this differnece. The tenor of her (Tweeted) remarks are examples of speech that challenges without resorting to “Hey, go chug some Clorox” or the like. On the other side are what I would call threats, naked and unrepentant. What else does one make of

Are you a good shot, cunt? I like to say, “I’ll keep my guns, you keep the change!”

I’m certain that steps across straight into let’s-call-the-cops time. I really liked some of Boosler’s comments (I hate the word Tweet—sorry), especially

Outlawing automatic weapons might infringe on some hunting weapons? If u need 100 rounds 2 kill a deer, maybe hunting isn’t ur sport.

Actually, I’ve said something like it myself. Maybe you have, too. These people who are practicing with Boosler portraits on their targets need to understand how much they do not yet understand about the way the world works in reality. After all, if you cut yourself off from the world and make your home in an isolationist bubble, this is what happens. Welcome to the constant paranoia of the Teabaggers’ world, where 24 was a documentary and they’re all looking around for Jack Bauer to come along and save them—from whom? A black President, that’s who, the source of their fear.

And stupid. Obviously, obviously stupid. Enough to believe they shouldn’t have access to health care, and that somehow the all-powerful moneyed people will one day see fit to piss a trickle of money down over their heads. In a mood colder than this I’d invite them to hold their breath while waiting for that to happen, but let’s pass: Boosler calls out her critics on the level playing field of language, and their utter reactionary replies identify them for what they are—unarmed at an intellectual gunfight.

There’s only one problem: these people still possess more private arms than in any other country on Earth. By comparision Toronto, where I live, is a haven from gun violence even though it’s one of Canada’s most violent. Winnipeg gets top honors up here. The difference is the people here by and large don’t own guns. You do if you’re a criminal or a cop. There’s no canard about militias that haven’t existed for centuries, none of that insanity. Canadians by and large tend to accept the idea that guns don’t kill people, but people with guns sure as hell do kill people. Say that to Americans, and watch their jaws drop in amazement. Remember the NRA goes apopleptic whenever any restriction on how many guns, how often, whether automatic or even worse, is so much as suggested on Sunday morning talk shows.

I say this: destroy and bankrupt the NRA. Out of the public light and into jail they go for colluding with gun manufacturers and Congress (on both sides of the aisle) to assure the American addiction to guns never ends—for the sake of the NRA and its partners alone.  

And yes, I know: if I was President we’d need lots more jail space for all these corrupt pieces of shit. Jail’s enough to satisfy me, honestly.

As for Elaine Boosler, I think she has fine comic chops and I agree with her stance on the gun issue, to be certain. It’s just amazing when her critics raise their hands and declare that, yes, they really are as ridiculous and comprehensively idiotic as we’ve always thought. They never fail. And that’s a good thing about “un-civil” discourse—this way, we know where everybody stands, how they feel down deep. We shouldn’t forget that so-called “un-civil” speech, which I regularly commit from the Left as this blog might well indicate, has the advantage of being precisely how people feel when called to account. And I’d rather know than have to guess even if I don’t like the answer.


About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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One Response to Notes on Civil Discourse and Elaine Boosler

  1. I agree; Though I hate the violent rhetoric the ultra conservative is spewing out, I would rather see the right-wing zombies coming in broad daylight!

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