James Joyner points to this piece by Mark Tapcott, in which he says a lot of what many of us have been saying about appropriate discourse and the importance of language especially in regard to leaders in the conservative movement. 

[I]n a Beltway Confidential post Tuesday, I asked what is the difference between folks on the Right calling the eight Republican House members who voted for Obama-Waxman-Markey the “cap-and-traitors,” and the infamous “General Betrayus” ad bought by the Left’s Moveon.org in The New York Times.

In no time at all, comments variously described your humble servant as a “moron,” a spreader of “piffle,” a “clueless knave or a fool,” and “a boil on journalists’ butts,” among much else. A few folks offered reasonable contrary arguments, but the clear verdict of most was that I am either incredibly stupid, or I’ve ingested an overdose of MSM fairy dust.


The fundamental problem here is that substituting personal invective for logic and fact points to the disappearance of a key aspect of republican virtue – putting the pursuit of truth in public debate before self-aggrandizement, also known as moderation or temperance.

It also signifies the continuing corruption of public language. Contrary to the deconstructionists among us, language is crucially important in a republic because it enables rational consideration of alternatives. Dismissing a proposal out of hand because it comes from a “moron” denies the possibility of logical argumentation and poisons the reasonable discourse required for a republic to function peacefully.


Usually with Reagan it was “our opponents,” or “the other side.” He was always a gracious speaker and a superb debater, quick to refute specious arguments or personal attacks with facts and logic. Reagan was tough, but he was a gentleman and an honorable adversary.

Reagan steadfastly avoided using personal opprobrium as a substitute for facts and reason because he refused to demean himself or his cause by diving into the gutter with others who were all too eager to hurl themselves and others there.

It’s not uncommon these days to hear suggestions that Reagan is no longer relevant. But his example of extending courtesy and respect to opponents – including those who don’t deserve it – is relevant for all time because it’s the right thing to do.

Read the whole thing.  I’m sure it will fall on deaf ears and loud mouths.

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One thought on “r-e-s-p-e-c-t

  1. I lol’d at him “expecting this from the left”. Though it’s interesting how much the commenters on that article defending this kind of abuse sound exactly like the Salon “letter-writers” circa 2004.

    The democrats won in part by disowning that rhetoric, not by embracing it. But it’s understandable – the powerless always seem to lash out like this.

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