Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe: “Have you no sense of decency?”

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

“Have you no sense of decency?”

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Congressman--an actual member of the U. S. House of Representatives, yelled out, “You lie” while the President was talking last night. And representatives and senators fluttered little pieces of papers saying who knows what, while another was busy texting. The words that came to my mind were what Joseph Welch, the army’s chief counsel asked Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Where is Welch when we need him?

I’ve written before about the public conversation being hijacked by angry words. I wrote a post called “The words we choose to use” right after the murder of Dr. George Tiller. In it, I referred to a column by Ellen Goodman about what she called the myth of the lone shooter, saying that an environment of angry words creates the individuals who pull the trigger.

It’s understandable that Rush Limbaugh et al. will use the most inflammatory language possible: the more outrageous they can be the more they get paid. But what’s in it for the all the rest? (Not to mention what’s in it for an elected member of the federal government to disrespect the federal government? Reminds me of the Groucho Marx line about not wanting to join any club that would have someone like him as a member.) Can’t we just dial back the rhetoric and maybe find our way to a zero-tolerance policy for disrespect and defamation?

And just as I finished writing this post, I saw this, proof, perhaps, of an idea at the right time.

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