I sent an email today to Kathleen Parker, a conservative columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. She wrote a column that was critical of Sarah Palin. Today’s column dealt with the reaction she got from writing that column. She has written columns for over 20 years and she was shocked at the tone of her mail. It was not just negative; it was “vicious and threatening”. The rest of today’s column dealt with her feelings on the demise of civil and intelligent public discourse.
Parker a conservative apparently shocked her less flexible supporters who no doubt felt betrayed when she responded negatively to the current conservative heroine. Regardless of what you feel about Kathleen Parker or Sarah Palin, it is difficult to conceive of the necessity of writing a columnist threatening mail because of their opinion.
Why, pray tell, am I discoursing on this on a blog devoted to books. Perhaps the same narrow minded, hate spewing, mail writing individuals are the same “well read” book banners we see at school board meetings trying to remove classic literature from our libraries.
Literacy is not the answer to everything but if our children are exposed to different ideas and thoughts through the books they read, perhaps they will grow up with a greater tolerance for those who disagree with them. Our nation was founded on freedom, freedom of speech and expression. The lack of civility, of politeness is despairingly common.
The next time you feel an urge to work over Bill O’Wrongly as he shouts over his guests, or to spill beer on an opposing sports fan, consider for a moment that behaving as a boor seldom prevents a boorish response.
Righteously assuming that if you are reading a book blog, you are literate and based on literacy, reasonably intelligent and open minded; please do what you can to promote reading with your kids, your peers and your community. We must not become a society of illiterate boors, spewing hate, banning books and running rough shod over anyone who disagrees with our opinions.
As I stopped above, it occurred to me that wasn’t a particularly hopeful blog. On a note of hope, look at the number of people who are blogging on books. Look at the number of sites promoting books. The barbarians have not overrun us yet! There are still huge numbers of good people wishing and working for a better life and better society. The frequency of kind words and good thoughts I see on the book swap sites I peruse help me to realize that we still have peers of good note, who are working to make a civil society.