Saturday, June 30, 2018

I'm Tolerant of Kinks, But Civility Fetishism Goes Too Far

Sarah Wilkinson, the owner of Red Hen restaurant, has stepped down as head of the local downtown improvement association in Alexandria, Virginia.  Meanwhile, Sarah Huckabee Sanders's supporters are showing their devotion to civility.  I nearly added "and Christian values" there, before I remembered that incivility is a Christian value based in Jesus' teachings and conduct, so no sarcasm.  I must say, I'm pleasantly surprised that the Alexandria police arrested one of them for dumping a bag of chicken shit on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.  Usually the police let the bigots run wild while beating up and arresting their opponents.

I expect that many of the guardians of civility who've been lecturing America for the past week will inform us that Wilkinson should have expected that her action would have consequences -- one such is quoted in the article I linked above -- while insisting that Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the rest of the Trump administration should never, ever have to face even the mildest consequences for their actions.

If anyone still wants to take that stance, fine; it's a free country, sort of.  But anyone who does so without acknowledging up front that Sanders, her supporters, and the rest of the Christian Right are scum, has (it seems to me) forfeited any claim to be taken seriously.

Rereading that last sentence the morning after I wrote it, I wonder if it might be a bit ... excessive.  But as far as I've seen, most of the guardians of civility have done their best not to criticize Sanders.  They don't have to call her "scum" specifically -- I leave it to them, as professional writers and articulate citizens, to come up with their own contumely -- but ignoring her defense of and participation in Trump's agenda, treating her as if she were just an innocent bystander unjustly declared guilty by association by Stalinist oppressors, is dishonest and, again, discredits them as commentators.

Speaking of guilt by association, remember that the Red Hen did not eject the rest of her party; they could have stayed if they wished, though it would have been surprising if they had.  But the Red Hen discriminated between Trump's paid liar/collaborator and her guests.  Deciding questions like to whom it's proper to refuse service is complex and difficult, but the staff and owner of the Red Hen showed infinitely more discernment than those who are now wringing their hands over their supposed incivility.