03/24/12 — Civility lost? Here's the bottom line: When you wallow in the dirt, no one wins.

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Civility lost? Here's the bottom line: When you wallow in the dirt, no one wins.

There are plenty of opportunities to use the word "stupid" on both sides of the political aisle.

In fact, that's why candidates have to hire advisers, handlers and "spinners." Otherwise, there would be a whole lot more Etch-A-Sketch moments.

But lately, it seems that it is not just the candidates who do not have fully engaged brains.

Most recently, a blogger for a conservative think tank decided to use a sexually suggestive and, quite frankly, insulting and bigoted, cartoon to comment on President Barack Obama.

It was tasteless. It was low brow, and it did nothing to advance anyone's cause -- or to promote discussion of the actual issue behind the commentary.

And it is just one of many examples of people who should have thought before they opened their mouths -- or posted a cartoon.

Those who call for a more civilized discourse often are quick to point out the opposition's shortcomings in this regard, but they seem to turn a blind eye when someone from their own camp is caught doing exactly that same thing.

Liberals, for example, are quick to express their outrage when they feel their side has been slighted, but seem to have no problem with the commentators and others who have said vile -- and stupid -- things about Christians and others who hold different views than their own. Those comments are just as unwarranted and just as offensive. To paint an entire group with one brush is bigotry -- no matter which side it is on.

So, fine, call for more civilized commentary -- and hold those who cross the line accountable. But do so fairly and with the same standard for all.

If Bill Maher makes a statement about a Republican candidate that is out of line, call him on it. And if Rush Limbaugh steps over the line, call him on the carpet, too. Zero tolerance is zero tolerance -- not a weapon you use when it suits your particular political agenda.

Debate is not in question here. There is nothing wrong with calling a candidate out on his or her policies or record. But there is something wrong with attacks that are so vicious and so personal that they suggest hatred and intolerance instead of healthy disagreement.

We have enough of the former. We need more of the latter.

And wouldn't that be a better example for our children anyway?

Published in Editorials on March 24, 2012 11:51 PM