Marybeth Hicks is, if you are unfamiliar with her drool, a blithering idiot who writes for the Washington Times, but I repeat myself. Mostly she preens about how she is a Wonderful Mommy because she is not a Socialist, and you are a Terrible Mommy because you are, as is evidenced by how let your children watch television, how you maybe once voted for a Democrat, or how you don’t have any kids in the first place, you Godless swine. (I’m paraphrasing. What I mean is that she’s a wingnut hectoring snot.)

Anyway, Hicks has a novel explanation for why it would be too much to ask the American right to stop talking absolute crap: in precisely three separate incidents, teenagers said horrible things on Facebook. Therefore “barbarism is the new national norm” and Obama is a big poopyhead for calling for more “civility” after the Tucson shootings.

Which I suppose makes some kind of sense, say, if you’ve been nipping too much at the cooking sherry, you’re nuts, or else you have to churn out right-wing pap to avoid getting a job and you’re bang up against a deadline.

But it’s this bit that interests me strangely:

Not long ago in American culture there were rules of common decency, etiquette, and public behavior, including the notion that there are things you just don’t say or do – like, oh say…cuss in mixed company, talk publically about sex or money, condemn someone’s religion or politics, and issue public death threats to your teachers and fellow students.

Yes, there were bullies and thugs a generation ago when social mores were well defined and most everyone grew up knowing the rules, if not practicing them, but they were the exception, not the rule. Their unwillingness to follow social norms is what made them bullies and thugs.

My fanny. Not long ago in American culture these “rules of etiquette” included the blithe acceptance of racism, and “bullies and thugs” were getting off scot-free for what they did to Medgar Evers. Also you could get away with slagging off women and homosexuals and people with mental and physical conditions and so forth. And “not so long ago” can even be interpreted as “yesterday”!

But anyway the point is not so much that the American Right still says mean things, but that they keep talking crap. Here is a fascinating recent example. Or see Glenn Beck, everything he says. Or see the mad idea that there was a polite, civilized debate about launching stupid wars back in the early years of the century.

That kids on Facebook are bad is lamentable, but they haven’t evenly remotely touched the everyday barbarism of American conservatism.



A community college professor from upstate NY. My wife & I have 347 children, all of them rotten.