Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 2, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

CIVIL DISCOURSE....The Bill O'Reilly-Al Franken smackdown on Saturday also had a third guest, Molly Ivins, who told a joke that David Frum thinks was pretty unfunny. Why, a conservative would never be allowed to tell such a nasty joke!

Yeah, yeah. Poor downtrodden conservatives aren't even allowed to make jokes these days. Then he says this:

Let me venture instead this possibly slightly less obvious point - Molly Ivins went on to deliver a passionate little speech about her commitment to civilizing American discourse! Apparently, American discourse is being rendered viciously uncivil by Rush Limbaugh's habit of explaining dynamic scoring over the airwaves - and the liberal way to elevate the vulgar tone of right-wing debate is to make jokes about killing people.

Aside from the laughable image of Professor Limbaugh carefully explaining the intricacies of economic modeling to his audience, Frum misses the point completely. The very last question from the audience during this session was about the increasing coarseness of political discourse. Did any of our panelists have any thoughts about how to make civil discourse a little more civil?

Answer: no. I expected a bit of PC handwaving, but in fact all three went out of their way to say that civil discourse wasn't their job. Their job was to stir things up, to take a stand, to get people angry, etc. Even Ivins, who later said she was trying to tone down the male testosterone levels a bit, basically said the same thing.

Anyway, Ivins' joke was this: "The price of gas is riz [Texas transliteration courtesy of Frum] so high that women who want to run over their husbands have to carpool." Hell, that's not even a very partisan joke. Frum needs to lighten up.

Kevin Drum 9:58 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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