I’ve never bought into the notion that vulgarity and civility in discourse are mutually exclusive. Nor do I agree that vulgarity signals a lack of education or a general incompetency at conveying ideas.
I can be a potty mouth (ask my wife), and I’ve scribed a few naughty words on this blog. Sometimes, it’s rage; sometimes therapeutic; and sometimes (usually) for calculated effect. My wife tells me that she can’t access my blog from work (a public school), as it’s blocked. Oh, well.
At any rate, what I do think is that vulgarity should be used with a high degree of discipline. It’s like a weapon, in that regard. Treat it with respect, discipline yourself, and use it effectively.
Michelle Malkin has provided us with a perfect example of the undisciplined use of vulgarity. Read those excerpts. They have no meaning. They don’t reinforce any argument. They make no point stronger. Those who posted those comments are the blogosphere equivalent of teenagers whose stupid parents have left the guns and ammo unattended while neglecting to train them in their proper use. Consequently, all they know how to do is maraud around shooting up street signs and all manner of things that don’t belong to them. Juvenile delinquents–all of them.
Kim du Toit explains why civil discourse with most of the Left is just about impossible, now. The general situation he’s illuminating is that when one side in a debate turns dishonest*, incivility is the natural, indeed the necessary, result. Since the fall of the USSR, and the general decline of communism worldwide, honest arguments for statism are increasingly hard to come by.
I got that link to Kim via Billy Beck, who provided his own example of absolute perfection. That’s how you handle someone who just dissed America on Independence Day. That Usenet post is nine years old. It’s still widely applicable today, and is as fresh as the moment he first posted it.
* The Democrat Party has become the Party of Dishonesty with respect to American social policy. The Republicans are frauds, in the sense that they don’t follow through with most of the principles they claim to hold. But, they are not engaging in the debate dishonestly.