On Civility

By now people who follow politics in the news are aware of the vast gulf dividing America’s two political parties. The verbal vitriol has gotten so thick and positions so entrenched that I fear the extremists would rather sacrifice the nation’s welfare rather than lose to the other side, and I do not choose the word “lose” lightly. That’s because political discourse, always contentious in this country and sometimes, as in 1861 even breaking down into bloody war, has become a contest, not a search for solutions. Compromise is now something akin to defeat, or even perhaps treason.

English: Newt Gingrich at a political conferen...

Newt Gingrich, via Wikipedia

Some progressives, particularly the President, has been willing to put entitlement reform on the table in order to get a grand deal that would save the country from financial collapse, although other left-wing hard-liners like Nancy Pelosi won’t consider it. But the GOP has been completely intransigent while endlessly repeating the mantra, “no new taxes”, never mind that business profits have soared and top-earners have historically high compensation while enjoying historically low tax rates

All of which brings me to the main topic of this post, civility in discourse. Even, perhaps especially, politicians are human and subject to emotions and reactive to insult. I can’t see how political solutions are to be found if both sides denigrate and insult each other. Allow me to illustrate with two examples. This first is from a USA Today editorial on December 2, and they are talking about Newt Gingrich:

Too often, he doesn’t just disagree with opponents, he demonizes them. Democrats aren’t just wrong, they’re “corrupt,” or they pose “as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.” He’s prone to stoking anger, as in comments exploiting fear of Muslims, and to shifting blame, particularly when his actions are questioned. A president may have low opinions of those he has to deal with, but he still has to deal with them. And he has to unite the country.
Gingrich used angry rhetoric to fire up the GOP in the 1990s, giving his party control of Congress for the first time in 40 years. He also probably did more than any other politician of that era to drive the parties apart — a flaw that continues to infect today’s politics. Now it’s up to voters to decide whether the new Newt has changed enough to be capable of undoing some of the damage inflicted by the old Newt.

Contrast that temperament, please, with this one. This is from an interview of Mitt Romney published in today’s Parade magazine:

How would you break the partisan gridlock in D.C.?
By finding people who care more about the country than anything else. And I would intend not to attack the people across the aisle. When I was governor of Massachusetts, with a legislature that was 85 percent Democrat, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if I attacked the House or Senate leaders, I’d get nothing done. I worked with the Speaker and the Senate President. We met every week in one of our three offices for an hour or two, discussed problems that the state faced, and did so off the record.

There you have it – starkly differing attitudes about how to govern. I know which one I prefer, but there are those who prefer Mr. Gingrich’s way. They appear to enjoy what they call “rough and tumble” of debate laced with insulting language and contemptuous nicknames for opposing leaders. For sure, as they state, there is a long history of this kind of “debate” in this country, but I would counter that it has seldom if ever been good for the country. I believe America’s founders intended for there to be compromise. That is why they created three co-equal branches of government, to encourage civil discourse and compromise.

Just off the top of my head I can think of a couple of examples right now of cases where extremists, a.k.a. non-compromisers, prevailed and hurt the country. One was the demonization of many innocent people by Congressman Joseph R. McCarthy in his infamous 1950’s hearings about Communism. He exploited rampant public fear in an

English: Wayne Bidwell Wheeler, half-length po...

Wayne B. Wheeler, via Wikipedia

effort to improve his own political career. The second example is Prohibition, a case where single-issue zealous religionists were able to force their intransigent demands on the entire nation.  (Can you think of another single-issue bloc in the present time?  I can.) At one time the movement’s administrative head, one Wayne B. Wheeler, was considered the most politically-powerful man in America.

Finally, being on the subject of civility, I want to mention that my fellow bloggers Anson Burlingame and Geoff Caldwell have uncivilly challenged a standard of civility I have set on this, my own blog. They have insulted and denigrated me in emails. Anson has used the words, hypocritical, supercilious, and despicable to describe me and stated that he intended to be insulting.

I would like to explain the standard of civility I set for my blog that has so incensed them and which they consider to be “censorship”. It is basically that I will not approve any comment on my blog which personally demeans another commenter or blogger.  Please note the adverb “personally”.  Criticism of positions and strong language have been and are allowed. The standard was specifically occasioned when Mr. Caldwell insisted in repeatedly calling another Globe blogger, Duane Graham, “Dwain Bwain” and using playground taunts. He has also called me “exponentially ignorant”, among other things. It made me wonder, if I am as bad as he says, why does he even visit my blog?

Here is an excerpt from an email in which I attempted to explain my position to Anson.

Like you, I am a “Globe blogger”. That does not mean that the Joplin Globe endorses what I write, nor have they ever asked me to take a particular position on any issue. What it means to me is they consider what I write, and the way I write, to be of value toward increasing readership for their online issues.

I consider what I write primarily of an editorial nature, and thus reflective of my own opinions. Just as the Globe does I reserve the right to filter the comments I approve according to whatever standards I choose. I know that the Globe routinely rejects editorial letters and columns because of poor writing, poor reasoning, profanity, libel, or just appropriate nature. In this instance, I have publicly set only a single filter – I have asked that comments not contain personal insults or childish gibes, something Geoff does routinely. If he would drop that stuff, I would approve his comments. He is fully aware of this and yet his pride, apparently, will not allow him to forego putting such things in every comment. Does that seem mature to you? It doesn’t to me.

Thus far, out of thousands of visits to my web site Geoff Caldwell is the only commenter that has failed to meet that standard. Now that ought to tell you something.

Finally, as I have stated before, my standard of civility is not censorship.  It is housekeeping.

For further reading on political civility I recommend a recent piece by Gene Lyons, one of the best short essays on the subject I have ever read.

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
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23 Responses to On Civility

  1. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim and others,

    For background, Jim has now choosen not to post some comments from Geoff Caldwell. He does so NOT because they do not meet normal standards of “publishability” in a newspaper (see Globe online comments to get a test of such publishability). I strongly disagreed with Jim on not allowing a free and unfettered flow of political debate on a public blog supported by a public newspaper. If “it” is “decent enough” for a newspaper to allow in online comments such should be the same for blogs supported by that newspaper in my view.

    I first engaged with Jim very privately in an email and yes, it go heated, privately. He then asked if I would agree to “releasing the emails” to others. I said fine and yes in terms of censorship, not personal character in general I called hin hypocritical, supercillious and despicable, again for choosing to be his own censor of others, not the supporting newspaper. ?But I did so in PRIVATE and it only went “public” when he requested to make it so. His choice not mine intially.

    A more polite and now very public explanation of all of this, offering my views on the subject are contained in my blog entitled “Intolerance and Censorship” found at ansonburlingame.wordpress.com.

    I leave it for readers to decide, not Jim alone, the merits of our strong disagreement over CENSORSHIP, which to me is despicable in almost all forms of political debate. If one cannot take the heat of criticism when writing in public then stop writing in public is my suggestion.



  2. Anson,
    I would reply and discuss your comment but Jim has already joined the left elite in choosing that he and he alone is the arbiter of commentary and as such shall not publish my comments.
    After all, of all the thousands and thousands he’s had on I, Geoff Caldwell fail to meet his “standards”.
    Funny how I’ve met newspaper “standards” for decades, even worked freelance for none other than the New York Times as a moderator for one of their websites but yet good ol, Jim Wheeler of Joplin, Mo doesn’t approve so he’s decided to censor.
    Hang in there and good luck. Don’t dare cross the line or you too shall see your voice silenced by those who deem themselves so much better than others.


  3. PiedType says:

    Freedom of speech does not mean someone has to publish your words in their publication. Every publication and blog I know, including my own, reserves the right to decide what they will and will not publish. I state as much on my blog. I also invite people to use the contact form if they wish to address me privately. And by privately, I mean the communication will remain between the two of us. Lack of civility at my place, and at my sole discretion, can get you cautioned, deleted, blocked, ignored, or blacklisted, depending on my mood. My blog, my rules.


  4. Anson,

    Using your definition of free speech the newspaper’s policy of not publishing material deemed too objectionable for public consumption violates the First Amendment. That’s absurd. Blog owners associated with the paper have found another blogger’s participation intentionally obnoxious and detrimental to what they deem appropriate demeanor; it is well within their
    purview to do so. I find it hard to believe that you would entertain someone who consistently addressed you as an “idiot” and insulted readers posting comments with the same depreciative language.

    Your outrage would have merit if comments were banned simply for expressing differing political opinions. But that is not the case. The blogger in question has a history of engaging in direct personal attacks and has ignored requests to refrain from doing so. What you see as unfair assaults on the “unfettered flow of public debate” are the self-inflicted wounds from another blogger’s failure to display reasonable deportment. You’re implying that blog owners exercising editorial control over their product violates company policies. Do you know that as fact? Or do you decide for others what is and what is not acceptable blog participation?

    Essentially, you have taken one individual’s inability to engage in adult conversation out of context. Deriding Jim for managing the quality of his product’s content was a misplaced attempt to defend boorish behavior.


    • Mr. McKnight,
      All I have ever expected from Graham and Wheeler is that if they are going to enjoy the benefits, publicity and payment of the Globe than they should at the minimum abide by the same comment standards as the Globe. As Anson and I do and I have for many years.
      This has nothing to do with their so called “rights” to publish on their own blogs. It is the fact that being linked to by the GLobe lends respectability to a most disrespectful practice.


  5. henrygmorgan says:

    I could not agree more with Jim, nor disagree more with Anson. Argumentum ad hominem is one of the most ineffective forms of argumentation. The issue stands or falls on its own, regardless of the person advancing the issue, and when the ad hominem falls to the level of juvenile name-calling, as it often does with Geoff Caldwell, it is at its most ineffective. Further, Anson takes his argument to the level of argumentum tu quoque by violating some standard of argument in his own blog that I have never discerned. I believe that Jim has the right to set the minimal standards of civility for his blog, and certainly the minimal standard would exclude name-calling. Defending Geoff by claiming that Jim is afraid to engage in the “rough and tumble” of open debate is a spurious argument.


  6. henrygmorgan says:

    I left out a key phrase. It should read “by accusing Jim of violating . . .” Henry


  7. ansonburlingame says:

    To all,

    My objection to censorship of comments on this blog by Jim Wheeler is NOT a constitutional issue to me. But it is an “American” issue. Simply stated, if one chooses to write publicly with political opinion they should allow others to do so as well in rebuttal, up to a limit.

    I have now seen several “censored” comments from Geoff sent to Jim’s blog. NOT A SINGLE one violates any reasonable rules of “publishability” by any public standard that I have ever seen or heard.

    Yes, Geoff calls people names in riducule. So what, I say. When I write OMG in response to a view that I oppose, in a sense I am calling the author of such views a “name”.

    CENSORSHIP should only apply to the ‘really crazy”. By that I mean, again, profance to the extreme, incitment to violence, attempts at intimidation, etc. Otherwise, let’r rip and to hell with “civility” at least in poltical debate. Go look at the “name calling” titles of blogs used by the EC. I see, “stupid”, etc. quite often, right in the title directed at any and all thing GOP. Fine, let’r rip EC and I will respond in many cases. No sensibility issues there for me or when I get it back in my face “over there” from some of his more extreme commenters (but not Duane) as well.

    Rude, arrogant, in your face, whatever is part of the rough and tumble of political debate. Sure I would like to see it be more “civil”. But to use CENSORSHIP and call it “housekeeping” is well just wrong in my view, stated here as politiely as I can do.

    Now it is expected to read support for Jim’s position on this blog. Fine, support him all you like. But as well you will find some support for my position on CENSORSHIP (NOT “housekeeping”) on my blog. One commenter in particular with whom Jim has engaged from time to time on my blog has gone farther than I have gone, publicly, in this matter.

    I leave that to your own perusal if you care to do so.

    I also know that this issue will remain an open debate unless the Globe (who is privately well aware of these exchanges) decides to weigh in. I call for NO CENSORSHIP of anything unless deems approriate by the GLOBE itself acting as a referee or disinterested third party.

    Until or even if the Globe weighs in one way or the other in this matter, we will all continue to agree or disagree, which is fine with me as well. And I do NOT call for Globe “help” one way or the other. It is right now between “us bloggers” and commenters which is fine, again with me. It probably ought to stay right there, as a matter of fact.



    • Anson,

      I’m just going to briefly state something that you need to think about: What you are essentially saying is that someone like Geoff Caldwell, whose juvenile antics litter our attempts to have rational, if sometimes heated, discussions, should be allowed to come in and trash our forums, while those of us who manage those forums have no recourse but to let him do it. We may as well turn over control of our blogs to Geoff, if your position is that we are un-American for determining what is posted for our own readers’ perusal.

      As for your strange “CENSORSHIP” argument, as far as I know Caldwell has his own blog, sponsored partly by the Globe (as I understand it), and he is free to say whatever he wants there. There is no issue with censorship, Anson, only with taste. Geoff Caldwell has no constitutional right, no institutional right, and no other right that I can think of, to comment on my or anyone else’s blog. When commenting, he is a guest and nothing more. As a guest, even though he thinks he can come in and flatulate with impunity, he can’t.

      I can only hold my nose for so long.



  8. John Erickson says:

    I’ve seen a lot of blogs become highly politicized, and I’ve seen a lot of discussions become nothing more than virtual shouting matches. While some exclamations of disbelief or “lightweight” insult (“Are you CRAZY?!?” for example) are permissible, and even welcome so as to show the writer’s personal involvement (rather than detached aloofness), vicious personal attacks often lead to a downward spiral and a loss of the conversational thread.
    I’m new here, and I haven’t seen all the exchanges mentioned. I also won’t drop my personal opinion and expect anyone to run with it. I would ask for a bit of restraint on both sides. And I will say one further thing, then step back into the shadows. This IS Jim’s house, so to speak. Right or wrong, conducive to debate or not, it boils down to “his blogs, his rules”. If he chooses not to post, whether I feel he’s right or wrong, it is HIS decision. That may not lead to open discussions all the time, but in the end, we post at Jim’s pleasure.
    And now, I will take my soapbox and step back into the corner. Thank you all for letting me spout. 🙂


  9. ansonburlingame says:

    First Duane, then John, both responses with respect,


    You said “…while those of us who manage those forums have no recourse but to let him do it” I disagree. You have many resources but they involve things other than just your own personal judgment of “unpublishability”. First you can publicly warn the offender, right in your blog. “XXX, you are so far off the reservation in your comment that…….”

    You can as I have done use a persoanl email to private.dly confront the offender. Go behind closed doors and duke it out, one on one.

    You can call for “help”. Send the offending comment(s) to an outsider and simply ask, “what do you think and what do you believe I should do with this ”

    You can in the exteme also go to the “source” (Globe) of all these blogs and ask for either help or advice in how to deal with offending outsiders.

    My guess is that Jim has done NONE of that. Has he privately consulted for example with you (Duane) on dealing with offensive comments? You don’t need to answer that but I know for damn sure he did not ask me. Of course I would just tell him to ignore or laugh, publicly, and for sure Jim is in no way “beholden” to my views on anything. But I certainly do have experience dealing with offensive comments as well.

    But CENSORHIP based on only HIS opinion of what is “publishable” in a political debate. Nope, not on my watch, which it is not, my watch in “Jim’s blog”.

    Now John,

    Your raise the important issue of “whose blog is this?”. Well Jim writes it for sure with no help at all and little if any guidance from the Globe other than don’t be libelous. The Globe will squash potential libel in a heartbeat if they sense it (right Duane?). I do not judge whether the Globe is right or wrong in that case but will defer to their judgement if I start to poke around libel in anything I write.

    But the Globe is in fact the ONLY reason that I know and read Jim or Duane. Either through guest columns or more important their blogs. So in my view they must conform to at least broad Globe standards in what they “publish” in the Globe.

    The worst “names” that I have been called since I began public writing over three years ago have come right in the the published JOPLIN GLOBE. Some were in Letters to the Editor and others in online comments screened intially by the Globe. By and large the Globe “let’s it rip” for readers to vent and frankly I applaud that effort. I only object to anonymity from such jerks, but tha is not the issue here. We ALL know who Geoff might be.

    So summarizing to both of you,

    There are many things that can be done to thwart an offensive commenter on “your blog”. But when anyone goes to the extreme of CENSORSHIP, well you cut off the free and unfetter flow of debate in my view.

    If you get passed the name calling you MIGHT find some very good research on Geoff’s part. Yes it is conservative research and thus, MAYBE, “cherry picking”. But then Duane does so ALL the TIME as well. Jim recently “linked” Sheila Jackson, an extremist to many to support his view. Wow, you should have seen Geoff react to such “erudition” by a “linker”!!!

    When I read Geoff, or even Duane with his admitted “polemics” I read beneath the rhetoric and try my best to find the substance. Most reasonable people do that in my view. But you see, I get to be the ultimate judge as a reader only if I get to READ IT, the substance of arguments.

    Censorship deprives all of us that oppotunity, in my view, to do our own work to find substance in any political debate. My “sensitivities” are not that great that I become so offended by rhetoric that I cannot see the forest for the trees. And in my view for sure there is a lot of rational substance in what Geoff writes, like it or not being YOUR choice but not the censor’s



  10. PiedType says:

    How ironic that Jim allows the discussion of his dastardly “censorship” to continue here …
    I think I’d have lost patience by now and censored — er, closed — the comments on this topic.


    • Jim Wheeler says:


      I have just approved a comment by Geoff Caldwell even though it technically violates my personal standard of civility by listing a link to a separate web site he created for the sole purpose of personally defaming and ridiculing Globe blogger Duane Graham, someone whom I respect for his integrity and writing skills. I make this single exception in the interest of better understanding, by you and others, of the nature of the recent verbal feud discussed at the end of the post.


      • And Jim, please tell your readers WHY http://www.dwainbwain.com was started? It ONLY came about AFTER he decided to ban and censor. AND I must ask you have you ever read the “What is a DwainBwain” column? Dwainbwain is not just about Graham it is about the mentality he represents.
        You might also wish to allow my comment through that directly responds to Graham’s attack on me here in this blog for starters.
        While you are most certainly allowed to have your opinion of Graham’s writing “ability”, there are many others of us who have a different.
        And as I have privately and publicly stated over, and over and over. If you and he wish to pick and choose comments and people who can post then by all means your are free to do so. Take your blog private.
        There IS a difference between being a public figure for a public blog on a public forum page sponsored by a newspaper as Carol has stated and just putting up your own private blog.
        The standards ARE different. I have never asked you or Graham to agree with them, just abide by them. If you want the benefit of the paper then appreciate the freedom of the paper.
        Many times I have had comments that don’t meet my “standards” but that has never been the issue from my standpoint as I have always stood for open and free public discourse, it is not my place to filter. (As long as the libel, vulgarity, profanity and racism is not an issue.)
        I don’t want to start another playground round, but your comment regarding dwainbwain.com doesn’t tell the “rest of the story”. Apologies to the late great Mr. Harvey, God rest his soul.


        • Jim Wheeler says:

          I don’t really care what started your feud with Duane, Geoff, I only care about the tenor and quality of commentary on my blog and the defamation of someone whom I respect. I would like my blog to be a place where differing minds can discourse in a reasonably mature fashion, a place where my small readership feels comfortable and won’t be distracted by jejune personal gibes and taunts, by commentary you yourself described in an email as ” . . . a second grade playground paradise”. I thought that was particularly apt phrasing on your part – nicely done. Those who want to submerse themselves in that kind of rhetoric know where to find it, thanks to your link, but personally I find it reprehensible, not to mention unnecessarily distracting. You may wish to promote that link but you should not rely on me to further it and I don’t intend to approve any further comments on my blog that contain it.

          There is one important distinction I would like to point out in this debate about civility in discourse by public figures. There is a difference between disparaging public figures such as politicians and personally demeaning people, public or not, with whom you are having a discussion or with whom you have an ongoing relationship for discourse. The difference is that the latter case is more personal than the former. Politicians, for example, are fair game for general journalistic criticism and receive it in bulk. But when the disparagement is between individual corespondents having a dialogue, it becomes more personal, more distracting, and most-importantly, more emotional. That emotion distracts from the quality of the conversation, not to mention the enjoyment of conversing with a mind that is at least somewhat receptive to considering the other person’s views without instinctive mud-slinging.

          Bottom line, you set your own standards for insulting gibes and demeaning names, Geoff, and I’ll set mine. But I will leave you with this thought: being ignored is a message in itself.


      • PiedType says:

        Understood. Thank you.


  11. Pied,
    Visited your site briefly, very well done indeed and looking forward to reading more when I have more time. The issue with “censorship” has never been whether Jim, or Duane or anyone else has the right to “edit” what he chooses to “publish” on a personal blog.
    The issue down here has always been bloggers enjoying the publicity, promotion and pay of the Globe but then not abiding by the same commenting standards as the paper itself. (Not to mention a little side battle of some like to dish it out but then can’t take it when dished back, but that’s not really Jim, that’s another.)
    My own site, CaldwellsCorner.com has been around in one form or another for years. It will survive with or without being linked to on the Globe blog page. BUT, since I do allow it to be linked to on that public site, I now wear the hat of “public” blogger on a “public” forum page and am no longer just another private citizen with a blog picking and choosing based upon my own personal feelings of how I feel about someone on any given day.
    I believe the Globe’s standards are pretty much industry standards when it comes to public forum posting: No libel, vulgarity, profanity or racism, other than that freedom of information trumps. No single “gatekeeper” allowing this and disallowing that, the readers decide what is viable and pertinent to a post.
    What has made the issue even more difficult for outsiders to comprehend is that some of the very comments that would show the other side have either been held in perpetual “awaiting moderation” or never published at all. From what I read of your history, you most certainly know there are always two sides to a story. Only telling one may help the ego of the storyteller but does the public a disservice.
    The issue is currently being addressed by the Globe management and in the end we will all have to decide whether we want to be public faces on the Globe page and as such abide by the Globe standards or take our blogs “private” and allow or disallow at our own whims.
    As the Corner has never blocked any comment or any one in particular being on the Globe blog page means no change in editorial policy needed and as such I plan on leaving the link. I believe Anson’s “I’m not sure, are you” will be the same but don’t want to put words in his mouth. What Jim and Duane have decided to do with their blogs I’m not sure. It would be a shame to see them decide to go private but then it even worse to have comments cherry picked based upon personal preference if the forum is public in nature and publicly sponsored.
    While others may disagree and that is certainly their right, the above is at least the argument from “one” side.


  12. ansonburlingame says:

    To all,

    Those of us in the midst of the ciensorship issue have much more detail than those not so engaged. The “new” Globe standard recently articulated is everything, blogs or comments must NOT be profanity, racism or libel. That is it and of course is NOT a “new” standard, it is one common to most newspapers.

    Now Jim claims he will make one exception in the above comment just released for publication by Jim from Geoffl Why make it an exception? It contains no profanity, racism or libel. As I read all the background harange going on, Jim’s “sensitivities” have nothing to do with it. If it is NOT profane, racist or libelous it MEETS Globe standards for publication and thus should get published in a Globe sponsored blot. “Public figures”, which we are as bloggers get no time outs for “civility” however defined or so I have recently heard.

    I too have respect for Duane. I have met the man, talked to the man, debated on a radio show with the man. But I so strongly disagree with his political views that I literally have to search for words that are publishable to rebut his views, views that are bringing America literally to it’s financial knees, if that is not too……. And I am sure there are those of you out there that feel equally as strongly about my political views that might well, in your view, destroy America.

    Great, let’s debate it in as full and broad a display of intelligence (being defined by the reader ONLY), and strength as possible. Let the best ideas win and again let the reader decide for himself, only the reader.

    I frankly don’t know if “Jim get’s it” even now. I completely understand his sensitivities. From all I can tell he is a very polite man and treats people with kindness, though I have also never met Jim as I have Geoff and Duane. But the whole point is Jim’s sensitivities have NO ROLE TO PLAY in outright censorship if he chooses to engage publicly, at least in my view.

    And I see NO ROOM or ALLOWANCE in Globe standards to account for personal sensitivites when it comes to unilaterally deciding to censor, meaning not publish, ANYTHING. Again, profane, racist of libelous, that is it from all that I have read to date.

    One more point if you care. Well over a year ago Duane BANNED Geoff from making any comments whatsoever on “his”, Duane’s blog. I privately objected then left it alone. Duane for sure was angry about Geoff’s retort, on what issue I have completely forgotten now. So be I said at the time. Indeed what I recall from Geoff’s words he was for sure abbrassive, etc, but NOT profane, racist or libelous as well.

    It indeed will be interesting to see if Duane, without public fanfare releases his BAN of anything from Geoff and again publishes things that are not profane, racist or libelous. We’ll see.



  13. ansonburlingame says:

    Of course I understand that point, Jim. It has been the basis of a big debate, hot debate, particularly in private emails. But you have from time to time provided “left” wing links that demean things that I hold rather firm opinions about.

    Yes Geoff began his tirade against Duane for reasons we all know about and thus the phrase used, initially against Duane. But has Geoff has stated, publicly, time and again the name of phrase is opposed to a much broader range of political opinion holder that just Duane Graham.

    Read the polemics in Duane’s blog, publishable polemics, against most things that the GOP supports. Maybe before your time in the blogs Duane frequently refered to people supporting the GOP positions as “bubbas”. He no longer does so now. But you must surely recognize that using such a term against (usually) lower educated, lower economic status white people is akin to someone else using the WORD no longer that can be said or written. “Ditoheads”, “Limbauch….”, whatever, stll used from time to time CAN be viewed as insulting as well.

    We will never reach agreement over the issue of censorship. I now leave that one aside and will return to my usual style of blogging and rebutal to blogs, particularly the ones expressing views, however expressed, that I oppose.

    After all the vitrol in emails and the “positions” more politely stated in blogs on the subject, really nothing has changed, which is unfortunate in my view. I really thought there was room for compromise. You and Duane are going to continue to do what you do and Geoff and I will do the same. But yes, I will be keeping a “weather eye” for other posts or comments that are censored or “banned” and may from time to time speak my mind again on such specifics, but not generalities now. The general issue is over, in my view. Censorship will prevail based on personal sentiments, at least in your blog.



    • Jim Wheeler says:

      You have used reasonable language here, Anson, to express your views, and I think you know that I have always tolerated much rougher language. But you persist in accusing me of “censorship”. The issue is much simpler than that, and to that point I offer again what I said in a previous comment to Geoff Caldwell, one that I think bears repeating:

      There is one important distinction I would like to point out in this debate about civility in discourse by public figures. There is a difference between disparaging public figures such as politicians and personally demeaning people, public or not, with whom you are having a discussion or with whom you have an ongoing relationship for discourse. The difference is that the latter case is more personal than the former. Politicians, for example, are fair game for general journalistic criticism and receive it in bulk. But when the disparagement is between individual corespondents having a dialogue, it becomes more personal, more distracting, and most-importantly, more emotional. That emotion distracts from the quality of the conversation, not to mention the enjoyment of conversing with a mind that is at least somewhat receptive to considering the other person’s views without instinctive mud-slinging.

      That is the standard I set for my blog, and that is of course in addition to the Globe’s standards about profanity, racism and libel. If you don’t like it, don’t participate.


  14. ansonburlingame says:

    Ha, you would love that for me not to participate in a public forum that is now a great target upon which to express conservative sentiments opposing the liberal ones. I love that fight and you will not get me away from here or there.

    So buckle up “buddy” and don’t spit into the wind. You might as well fill your hands, (the rest I cannot now write in a blog with “New Standards”) but you know what I mean.

    That as well in not a threat, it is sincere promise at least until I can no longer “log on” and type. You post it and I am coming your way all in accordance with “new standards”.



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