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Uncivil Disobedience


Uncivil Disobedience

Tim Koechlin

A few thoughts on the “civility” of our political discourse.

First off, if Donald Trump is the leader of your party, your accusations of incivility are as laughable as can be – like Sarah Palin accusing someone of being stupid, or Matthew McConaughey accusing someone of being vain.

Secondly, if you defend appalling behavior (your own or that of others) in a “polite” tone of voice, you aren’t “civil.” You’re complicit. You’re an enabler. You’re full of sh-t.


RE: …and what we ought to be distressed and outraged about – is a revoltingly
“uncivil” (hateful, violent, racist, entitled, rapacious, etc.) world
view and the revoltingly uncivil (hateful, violent, racist, entitled,
rapacious, etc.) policies and behavior that this world view inspires.

This is what neoliberal capitalism looks like to the rest of the world, now we see it unmasked here at home.


While I am not a fan of offensive words in writing if I have to see them it is nice to see them not completely spelled out for a change. That was the old way of doing things and it was much more civil. Part of the decline in civility in language is spelling out these words, even in mainstream newspapers, instead of using asterisks to show missing letters. At least in this article dashes were used.


Here is to wishing Mr. Trump cots and predators during his well deserved stay at the big house during his next reality show: The Apprehended.


Coming from a professor this message is especially telling. It really is time for some activism in the form of civil disobedience and making uncomfortable the enablers of this broken system to continue. If Steven Miller is called a racist while eating dinner, good!, because he is. He’s in a public position that makes his blatant racism the nation’s problem. Call public figures out for their lies and hypocrisy. Because if ‘the people’ don’t speak out and call for a reassessment of the government’s policy, who will? Will we watch the Nation turn into a fascist state without a fight? We are already on a very slippery slope towards the far right of fascism. How are average folks supposed to halt this worsening condition if we don’t speak out. So the time for civility is over, it’s accomplished nothing. There are good books on effective insurrection. Read them and decide if organizing as read is worth saving the USA for Americans because if not prepare to become #'s in an inhumane dystopia.


And F** Israel’s government and miltary.
And Fk the NRA
And F
k all of those who profit from incarceration and/or “detention”.


Already did.

It was slow-walked into place in the '80s and '90s, then ratified by a ‘bipartisan’ congress in 2001-02.


Civility will get you nowhere.


Tim Koechlin or anyone should be allowed to swear in a public space. That does not make it effective or wise.

He’s right that the matter of civility pales before the crimes of the Republican Party. His failure to add in the Democrats creates problems, though he corrects this in part down the line. Still, this is a textbook example of why your English 101 instructor discouraged you from indulging this sort of thing.

If anyone politely defends appalling behavior, goes the claim, he or she is “full of sh-t.”

So --------

How simple is this to skewer, even with little reference to the events that Koechl discusses? Ahem . . . . Is the slaughter of British troops at New Orleans, Sherman’s killing and starving of civilians in his march to the sea, or Allied high explosive carpet bombing of civilian cities in WWII not appalling? Or is every single person who has defended such things as necessary or useful “full of sh-t”?

Further, if they are “full of sh-t,” does that mean that said persons are simply badly incorrect in this given instance, incorrect characteristically as a state of being, hypocritical, woefully immoral, personally disgusting, or some unnamed combination thereof? By what actions are they “full of sh-t,” however Koechlin intends this? Why are some included and Democrats who support the same points–well, partly included somehow, more or less, apparently? Democrats are “playing along” at it instead of “working,” but given that both parties support most of these policies and that a few exceptions do exist in each party, what is intended?

The qualifier sh-t as used here does not specify why Koechlin disapproves, but instead provides reference to feces as a stock metaphor to signal in some measure an extremity of the author’s disapproval and probably disgust. The heavily loaded nouns enabler and complicit help, but do not explain the shittiness, whatever exactly that is to comprise.

I happen to agree with the point that I imagine the author intends to make, but I really do not care at all that it happens to be Dr Koechlin who happens to feel this way towards whatever group of people he feels are involved. Were the two of us friends talking at a bar after class or carrying a sofa up the gangplank of a moving truck, I might care. I do know by the bio that he is an econ PhD working at Vassar, but I am a bit reticent to use stereotypes to characterize the words of someone whom I do not know. I don’t wish to be out here in this flyover desert thinking “Oh, yeah, Vasser, ri-i-ght,” and yet I have little other context, and the form that is used forces me to judge the text by its author.

There’s more.

The construction Subject is full-of-sh-t, objectifies and dehumanizes its referent by its use of the passive verb. The objectification makes an ad hominem argument that leaves little motive for reform of idea: if I am an a–hole, full of sh-it, then when I reconsider my views, I remain an a–hole with reconsidered views.

We can discuss why bigotries are not all symmetrical in the historical context that we have inherited, but that does nothing to repair the logic. If my student (who has relatively little control over a professor, though more than many believe) refers to “white male thinking” in class, this does not mean that I, as a white male, am thereby oppressed, though in some incident this might be the case. It does mean that the student’s comment at least appears to reflect prejudice and demographic insensitivity.

Koechlin has thus made a statement that he probably never imagined. I do not know whether he intended it; still less do I know what of it he may or may not intend. At the same time, he has declined to specify or delimit it even by providing a specific noun. What are the chances that persons of any other political bent interpret him as he himself understands his own words, given that this all may be justifiably taken in very many ways?

Much of the reason that swearing sort of works a bit in a bar with buddies or on a moving truck and does not when it appears in public discourse is that a person who knows Dr Koechlin as Tim probably has some idea how to take him if he implies that he has one or another feeling about something, so that this becomes a useful measure of authority. Until one reaches celebrity status, a public readership cannot usefully judge the text by its author, but must do the reverse. A celebrity author or performer can lean on this to some extent: think of just how impressed you are not because Sean Hannity claims to be disgusted or appalled by whatever. Conversely, at least for me, you may have followed Noam Chomsky or Daniel Ellsberg for years; if so, their expressed disgust might come across differently. But this is because after years of publication, one has the feeling that one understands something of who the person in question is–however suspect that may be in a given case.

It is true enough that a few misspelled “F-bombs” are not worse than the policies that Koechlin might further attack were he not so involved in attacking whatever group it is exactly that he holds responsible for them. It is overwhelmingly true that these policies are worse than uncivil. But I am not certain that Koechlin deserves to have used them as he has. The matter at hand, insofar as I discern it, deserves better.


There are degrees and separate instances of fascism. The U.S. corporate-state is not 100% fascist (yet), but I think there are many aspects of fascism, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism amidst the U.S. corporate-state. And the trend toward increasing fascism in the U.S. has gotten steadily worse since Reagan’s presidency in 1980 (38 years ago).



Thanks for your precise critique of Dr. Koechlin’s use of vulgar words.

Like you, I agree with Dr. Koechlin’s overall passionate assertion, but I also agree with you that some of Dr. Koechlin’s reasoning and word use is open to question and debate.



I share your sensitivity to words and your sensibility about word use – and I prefer not to be shocked or distressed by reading or hearing disturbing vulgarities – but I also think that when matters get bad enough, and emotions get intense enough, that use of swear words and other vulgar words can be very appropriate.


Is the use of “f*ck” instead of just spelling out “fuck” supposed to raise the level of discourse? If so, it fails. The author’s inability to articulate a position without resort to crude obscenities reveals the shallowness of his argument.


Except it is not a “Muslim Ban”. All the countries on this list were identified as areas of concern by the Obama administration and/or congress. The “ban” is to be lifted if the countries can improve their processes for providing background info on refugees/immegrants, Syria has already had restrictions eased. Not all the countries listed are Muslim, not all Muslim countries are listed.

Repealing Obama care does not “remove health coverage”, it gets rid of government control of the health insurance industry. Because I believe the free market (not the pre-Obama care government over-regulated insurance market) is better suited to provide affordable medical care to ALL, doe not mean I want to strip health coverage from millions of people.

[quote=“CommonDreams, post:1, topic:52934”]
Depraved indifference to the suffering of the people of Puerto Rico (and Flint, etc., etc.).
[/quote] Puerto Rico continues to have issues, mainly driven by the poor administration of the island compounded by a devastating natural disaster. The Federal government should only be involved in short term emergency relief, which they provided. Failure of the local leadership compounded the issue (yes, I am talking about the Mayor of San Juan).

Illegals cross the border and claim asylum when caught are detained while their claims are validated. Due to differences in detention rules for children and adults, they need to be detained separately. Oh, there has also been an issue with adults and children crossing the border together, claiming to be “family”, but are actually human traffickers. Are we saying that children (many who have been sexuality assaulted during their trip) should be kept with the “mules” who are transporting and abusing them?

Guns have been part of the US culture for hundreds of years and the right to “possess and bear” them is explicitly called out in the constitution. In spite of the high profile mass shooting events, gun crime is down and is eclipsed by defensive gun uses.

There may be some common ground here.

Corporations are in business to male money, as long as they are not breaking the law, provide the services their customers pay for, why shouldn’t they make money?

Calling out a subset of a group for unacceptable/illegal behavior, whether it be Muslim terrorists vs law-abiding Muslim non-terrorist (horrible wording, but I don’t know how else to put it), illegal aliens vs legal immigrants (which tends to be conflated with Latin Americans due to the border with Mexico), African Americans who assault law enforcement personnel, engage in gang and other illegal activity and those who contribute their community and strive to make improve life for their children and families or those who claim refugee status for deceitful reasons vs. those who really need it. As for Social Justice Warriors, excuse me activists - we make fun of them for their inability to make coherent arguments or protest absolute asinine things, so is more of a ridicule thing than vilification thing.

When the climate models can use the inputs from the last 50 years can predict today’s climate, I will be concerned with their projections for 2050 and beyond. Oh, assuming that they can show that slight warming is actually detrimental to humans and the environment as a whole (increased temps means increased growing season for crops, it seems to me that their are more ares that would benefit than those that would not.

All of these issues have another side, not just a screw you you are not part of the privileged group (Keeping the federal government out of public education and providing options to parents in districts with failing school systems is not an “attack” on public education, not forcing employees to join public unions is not the same as outlawing unions, don’t want to a victim of “police violence”, do not assault an LEO or resist arrest, not wanting to provide government handouts is not indifference to poverty - it is believing that is not an effect way to deal with it, Not wanting to allow the legal killing of unborn children is not an attack on women’s health - the body that is killed and evacuated - not the mother’s body, fighting back against the your forcing me to support your LGBTQ agenda is not hateful - I believe it is wrong and I should not be forced to activity participate,).

So you have massively miss-stated the POV of the majority of conservatives, failed to provide context on many of the issues facing this country and use that to justify your incivility. You call out , "evil libertarian billionaires: but do not call out the liberal/leftist billionaires (at least the Koch brothers are up front about their motivations and what they want).

So, yes, you are being uncivil.


No it does not…this article was right on…f…k tRump and everyone who supports him and everything he stands for.


You make my point.


How “uncivilly disobedient” does Professor Koechlin want us to be? Does he draw a line between refusing to serve Sarah Sanders at a restaurant and assaulting her in public? I ask because one is much more “in her face” than the other and a little more direct than simply using bad words to confront evil (as if that will make it go away). I suppose members of the antifa movement would say Professor Koechlin and all of those calling for uncivil “discourse” are full of shit because they refuse to confront Donald Trump and his supporters more aggressively than by just refusing to allow them to eat at a business establishment. Mere incivility stops far short of a commitment to lay your life on the line for what you believe in. I personally believe in nonviolent civil disobedience and civil public discourse, but Fk me because I’m obviously an a***hole. Of course, there’s always the tactical question of what the Red Hen owner actually accomplished. She galvanized the opposition, and in return got booted from her local business group and had to shutter her restaurant. Her employees aren’t being paid. High price to pay for her actions, but perhaps she didn’t go far enough, did she Professor Koechlin?


Yes he does!


FUCK NO! No One does or should, fall for using the behavior of an immoral person! Or political entity posing as a moral being! When I and others intend to change a wrong, We the People, especially the trod-upon poor and dis-enfranchised, who became poor through voter suppression and electoral rigging - We the Poor uphold the values and spiritual moral values of a Mother Earth Conscious Human Being - i.e. with Love. Respect. Honor. Peace. Music. Family. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you!” - The Holy Scriptures of the Torah, Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Koran and others! Or You and yer fucking get even attitude will become just like “them” - as in the corporate-rulers of empire and us at the moment!


Socially accepted civility is home of the ignorant conformism that denies pervasive social and political corruption.
Please, . . . . be very uncivil every single time you hear the acceptable bs. It’s the mannerly thing to do. For good manners always value truth above conformism.