Thank you for your perceptive response (And for following me!) I also liked your parallel reference to Act Up, and I suppose a parallel can be drawn today to Extinction Rebellion. I think civility is a virtue, but as Aristotle argued sometimes knowing how, when, and whether to apply that virtue is problematic. America in the 1980s in general, and the Reagan administration in particular, simply weren’t listening and did not want to hear about HIV/AIDS. However that doesn’t mean civility can’t be applied as soon as you get their attention. To some extent, I think that worked out, and I suspect — actually hope — that eventually attention will be paid to the issue of anti-trans violence as well. But I also think that civility isn’t “niceness” either. Civil disagreement doesn’t rule out “You are wrong” or “That was a bad argument” or “I call bullshit” in the discourse when it is warranted. The overarching problem is that the much lamented “eclipse of civility” is a symptom of the more basic eclipse of serious forums for rational discourse, where citizens are trained in the arts of logic and rhetoric. The electronic media bears a lot of the blame for this sorry state. I might have been a bit harsh on Ellen’s persona — I tried to be fair — but I loathe television as a matter of principle, and her niceness is tailor-made for it.

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Writer, philosopher, information technologist,guitarist, neurotic, polite radical, avid and indiscriminate reader, Episcopalian, trans woman.

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