Obama raises the bar on civil discourse

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    May 18, 2009 2:25 AM GMT
    Obama dismantles another legacy of the Republican-Bush-Conservative reign of ignorance as he calls for vigorous debate without demonizing the opposing side.

    "Addressing a sharply divided audience at the storied Catholic university, Obama conceded that no matter how much Americans "may want to fudge it ... at some level the views of the two camps are irreconcilable."

    "Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction," he said. "But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature." ..."

    "As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate?" he asked. "How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?"

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/16/obama.notre.dame/index.html


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    May 18, 2009 6:32 AM GMT
    Yeah, but Cas, what about when they demonize us, such as did the Mormons, Catholics, and K of C when it came to Gay Marriage?

    Sometimes you must fight fire with fire. A fair fighter is a fool if he thinks he'll win against a dirty fighter, or a cheater.

    It'll probably sound trite, or silly, but I like the line from THE UNTOUCHABLES, when it came to dealing with Al Capone:

    "He pulls a knife? You pull a gun! He puts one of your boys in the hospital; you put one of his in the morgue. That's the Chicago way. And that's how you get Capone!"
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    May 18, 2009 10:27 AM GMT
    You're talking about wingnut Christians ....
    Civil? They camped outside a hospital where a woman was lying braindead inside and were yelling that her husband was a murderer
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    May 18, 2009 10:31 AM GMT
    Willful ignorance cannot be understood or made to understand. It's their personal struggle that they extend unto others.
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    May 18, 2009 3:13 PM GMT
    zeebyaboi saidYeah, but Cas, what about when they demonize us...?

    We can point to Obama's example...and change the topic to their behavior until they stop it....then the debate can resume.
  • shoelessj

    Posts: 511

    May 18, 2009 5:46 PM GMT
    Unfortunately you cannot argue in a civil manner with these people. While the President was saying these words, there were a few nut jobs in the audience (while the great majority of students at Notre Dame supported and cheered the President) who heckled him. I don't know, but no matter who he is, you do not heckle the President of the United States.

    These are also the same people who were parading around a university campus the past few weeks with baby strollers with pictures of bloody fetuses on them. Classy, eh? These are the people you would engage in civil discourse with? I have tried and it can't be done. I remember, on the night Obama was elected, i mass texted my friends (only about a dozen or so) and said "Hope wins." One of my Republican freinds texted back, saying "Hope is no good when there's a plane headed into a building." Later, I had to dump her from both my Facebook friend list as well as my real life friend list because she devolved (as some of them have) into a "F--- Obama" type. Doesn't matter what he does or says, there is a segment of the population, from my ex-friend to Newt Gingrich to Limbaugh, Cheney, Boner and Cantor, et al, that will always disagree with him and do so loudly and in a most uncivil way.

    We just have to try to engage civilly and when it can't be done, we have to move on and not be tempted to fall to their level.
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    May 19, 2009 2:23 AM GMT
    The last man on earth that should talk about a civil debate on abortion is Obama. This is the most pro-abortion president in recent history! What is there to talk about Mr. President!!! You voted against a partial birth abortion ban, parent notification, and you signed international funding for abortion on your second day, and I'm certain you will name a pro-choice justice. There's nothing to debate, you're either for it or against it. I respect your views and I recognize this is something that we'll go back and forth on, but you are the last person that says we should talk about it, when you've shut out any possible chance for mediation. SHAME ON YOU when it comes to this a few other positions.
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    May 19, 2009 2:30 AM GMT
    cruelsummer saidThis is the most pro-abortion president in recent history! What is there to talk about Mr. President!!! You voted against a partial birth abortion ban, parent notification, and you signed international funding for abortion on your second day, and I'm certain you will name a pro-choice justice. There's nothing to debate, you're either for it or against it. I respect your views and I recognize this is something that we'll go back and forth on, but you are the last person that says we should talk about it, when you've shut out any possible chance for talk. SHAME ON YOU when it comes to this a few other position.

    I will grant you all of that is true, but we've had polarizing belligerent rhetoric for far too long. I'm sick of it and I'm proud and glad Obama said what he did.

    You can be hardcore pro-choice or hardcore pro-life, but please acknowledge that the other sides' beliefs are as sincerely held as yours and stop the ad hominem attacks. I'm tired of both sides calling the other side "evil" just because they disagree.

    We have lost civility and coarsened our talking points. I blame the sound bite media. I'm glad our president is calling for a detente.
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    May 19, 2009 2:38 AM GMT
    Nobody should be calling anybody names. I am totally opposed to that and so are many pro-lifers. But I will admit that the pro-life movement has been sometimes the one to blame for being too overly and inappropriately vocal, especially with my church (catholic) and how they threaten to deny communion to pro-choice politicians. What I'm trying to say is that there is nothing to debate. There is no middle ground on this, unfortunately. The only way to reverse Obama's actions are to vote him out of office, and that's what conservative need to understand, instead of protesting and calling names.
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    May 19, 2009 5:10 AM GMT
    I think it's very simple: if you're a male, you have no say so over what rights a woman should or should not have. You'd need a vagina to be able to understand what it must be like for a woman.

    It's the same as straights trying to enact legislation to strip Gays of our rights. They're not Gay, so it's none of their business, and for them to stick their noses or opinions into it is, in my view, immoral and arrogant. Same as a male thinking his "pro-life" stance should have any influence over legislation that affects only women.
    I firmly believe that if men were made by Nature to be able to bear children, abortion would be legal and there would be no debate.

    I think a male making any claims as to what a woman should or should not do is nothing but chauvanism.
  • Tiller66

    Posts: 380

    May 19, 2009 6:02 AM GMT
    Well no matter if you dissagree with Obama or not he is not the one getting the women pregnet.If you outlaw abortion they would still happen and then you would have women dying too along with they'er babies so then you would get a two for one deal.Now I don't mean to disrespect anyones views but I do not want the government to tell anyone what to do with they'er bodies.I mean up until not too long ago gay sex was illegal and I don't want the government in my life like that.The best aproch is to do as much as possible to give other choises to women then abortion.
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    May 19, 2009 6:14 AM GMT
    i agree tiller, and i would also point out that no one i've ever met has ever taken the stance, "oh boy! let's go have an abortion!" i mean, it's not like pro-choice people WANT abortions... what they/we want is for women to have as many options as possible. at times pro-life people (if you'll excuse the reverse pun) seem to want to throw the baby out with the bathwater...
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    May 19, 2009 11:46 AM GMT
    Well I didn't want this to be a full blown debate, but oh well. Sorry, we don't buy that argument -- that this is a woman's body right or whatever you wanna call it. Even the president of the United States, and I don't remember the exact quote, said "that people who make this about woman's rights are making a huge mistake." It should take more than a woman to decide the fate of a human life. In fact, I, as a man, should have just as much say in her decision if I were a loving partner. Or look at this way, Why is Sarah Palin pro-life then, she's a woman isn't she. The pro-life movement isn't dominated by men, in fact, men, besides clergy, stay out of it anyways.

    What does a vagina have to do with this? only that if women didn't want this in the first place, they could have kept their vagina intact. Let's face it, the majority of abortion are minors, 13-16 year olds that should not be having sex anyways, let alone, be left all alone to make such a decision on abortion. My uncle is an abortionist, and you wouldn't believe how many minors go into clinics repeatedly to abort their babies. You shouldn't have a say either until you see what is happening in those clinics, and please don't tell me it's none of you're business, you're not animals.

    As far as women's health Tiller, I can understand your argument, but here's the case with that. The rarest of cases of abortion are due to women's health. In addition, regardless of legality, we would automatically have laws protecting women in danger. The same goes for rape or incest. no one is trying to stop abortion rights for that (some might be, but just ignore them). With the exceptions made, I don't see any reason why a woman should have an abortion.

    In the end though, I respect your views and why you hold them, but I just urge you to come up with a different argument other than women's rights.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    May 19, 2009 12:11 PM GMT
    I totally agree with the point of this thread. I've been very pleased with Obama's approach. You treat others with civility and you hope eventually it will be returned. Someone has to lead on this issue and I'm glad Obama is changing Washington. Now lets hope it proves successful.
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    May 19, 2009 4:11 PM GMT
    I don't have to come up with a different argument, Cruelsummer. Your argument that you have a right to legislate against a woman's right to choose is as arrogant as a woman legislating that all males MUST have circumcisions because they, the women, feel it's healthier.

    You're making what they call a "straw man" argument. You sound like a young Republican. Did you vote for McCain?
  • styrgan

    Posts: 2017

    May 19, 2009 4:33 PM GMT
    zeebyaboi saidYeah, but Cas, what about when they demonize us, such as did the Mormons, Catholics, and K of C when it came to Gay Marriage?

    Sometimes you must fight fire with fire. A fair fighter is a fool if he thinks he'll win against a dirty fighter, or a cheater.


    Anyone who has read even one of my posts on here knows that I'm all about fighting back. But I also think that we will not win by following the tactics of the people who are losing the course of this debate.

    The only problem with your suggestion is that there are liberal Christian groups (such as the Jesuits who run ND) that are caught in the middle of these culture war debates - somewhere between the Feminazis and the conservative church ladies, and somewhere between banner-sprawling fags and the Vatican. By demonizing every Christian and every church and everyone who disagrees with us, we make their job outrageously harder. We need to start applying common sense to many of these outbursts (such as Miss Conservative-Beauty Queen, Take 2) and responding with a little bit of restraint at times.

    I think there's something helpful about Obama suggesting we should be following his example, and elevating the debate where we can. And what happened at ND's commencement is an excellent example. You had a few people who heckled him, but he left that stage backed by thunderous applause.
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    May 19, 2009 4:43 PM GMT
    Fighting dirty has its utility, but the marriage equality issue wont be won on calling the opposition a bunch of boners, which they are. Simply, the time is approaching where it will win nationally. Polling over the last forty years (thirty years before marriage equality was even on the agenda of GLBT advocacy groups) shows that public support for it is steadily growing and the numbers of those against it are declining. As older generations die, the opinions of younger voters enter into public opinion and that opinion is for equality.

    To get over this hump high discourse is useful, but grassroots effort is more important. HRC may have raised a few million fighting prop 8, but they did almost no outreach to minority communities, which is where this fight will be won.
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    May 19, 2009 4:49 PM GMT
    Let me clarify: I agree that there are a number of religious groups who not only do not demonize us, but support us, and they should be respected and applauded, just as they respect us. It's those groups who attempt to vilify us, who use divisive and dishonest tactics, and lies, and try to pass legislation against us, that most be fought tooth and nail, and with whatever weapons we have at our disposal.

    I'm not suggesting a scattergun approach to the battle. I'm suggesting a surgical nuclear strike at the targets that need to be taken out. If you, or anyone, is a member of a religious group that feels that homosexuality is not your cup of tea, or is even a sin, but has enough restraint and respect to keep it in your own home or in your own church, and not use it to oppress us or legislate against us, I have no quarrel with you. That's your right to feel that way, though I may not like it.

    It's when people use their religion to legally, or morally, bludgeon us Gays in public and in laws that I feel the need to strike back, hard and without mercy. Why shouldn't I, when they're doing it to us?

    It's like dealing with a schoolyard bully who keeps beating you up: no matter how civil you try to be, some bullies will only ever see that as weakness, and hit you even harder, and more often. Eventually, distasteful though it may be, the only way you'll get them to leave you alone, and think twice about ever doing it again, is to pummel them back until they stop, or are out cold.

    The revolutionaries , our Founding Fathers, knew that civil discourse would never enable them to win against the Redcoats. They had no choice but to use sneaky guerilla tactics in order to push the British back, and finally the British came to realise that the price they would pay to subjugate us was too high relative to the benefits, and only then did they finally leave us alone.
    It's no different now.
  • Tiller66

    Posts: 380

    May 19, 2009 4:57 PM GMT
    Well cruelsummer the health issue I was talking about was that if outlawed thier would still be abortions done and those doing/reciving them would likly be done in ways that would not be up to acceptable standereds.That's what I was talking about.That women I know that have health issues have all had they're babies and that is good
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    May 19, 2009 5:03 PM GMT
    Sorry if I got off-track, fellas. I got caught-up in the Gay Marriage comment that MunchingZombie made, and forgot that this was about the abortion issue.
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    May 19, 2009 5:55 PM GMT
    zeebyaboi saidI don't have to come up with a different argument, Cruelsummer. Your argument that you have a right to legislate against a woman's right to choose is as arrogant as a woman legislating that all males MUST have circumcisions because they, the women, feel it's healthier.

    You're making what they call a "straw man" argument. You sound like a young Republican. Did you vote for McCain?


    Being pro-life sounds republican?! Anyways, no, I voted for Obama. But I'm just curious now, can a gay man oppose him on anything. It's seems everytime I disagree with him, I'm denounced. Not particularly on this forum. We differ on abortion, gay marriage, global warming, and some economic issues. Is that ok?
  • styrgan

    Posts: 2017

    May 19, 2009 6:31 PM GMT
    zeebyaboi saidLet me clarify: I agree that there are a number of religious groups who not only do not demonize us, but support us, and they should be respected and applauded, just as they respect us. It's those groups who attempt to vilify us, who use divisive and dishonest tactics, and lies, and try to pass legislation against us, that most be fought tooth and nail, and with whatever weapons we have at our disposal.

    It's when people use their religion to legally, or morally, bludgeon us Gays in public and in laws that I feel the need to strike back, hard and without mercy. Why shouldn't I, when they're doing it to us?


    First off, my argument is not that there are differing views between churches - but that there are differing views within churches and groups. The Jesuits are the most politically liberal of any of the Catholic orders, so much that the crazy people at the Weekly Standard or the CNA barely consider them Catholic at all. But in demonizing the Church as a whole, we make it harder for groups like them to produce change from the inside.

    Also, I think you are misrepresenting what the President said. Neither the president, myself, or MZ are arguing that conservative Christian groups should not be fought. I am simply agreeing that with the President's idea that we should not reduce our opponents to "caricatures."

    That is not a blanket statement against all personal attacks. Obviously, a pastor who criticizes gay marriage but has an affair outside of marriage deserves to be confronted on it. On the other hand, no one should argue that Catholic priests, because of pedophilia in their church, do not have a right to speak out and voice their opinions on social issues. It requires a certain degree of common sense that in the heat of these debates, no one is using.
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    May 21, 2009 9:44 AM GMT
    All I want to add is that half of the babies, fetus's, zygotes that are aborted are male. To say that a male really has no say in this is silly. In this country we call on males and females to make decisions about a lot of things. Should no male sit as a juror on a rape case? Should we not have male judges on rape cases? Obviously, that is ridiculous.

    Abortion, right or wrong, is an issue that everyone has a right to weigh in on regardless of gender.