Opinion

Commentary: Civil discourse sometimes uncivil

The e-mail started out, "You arrogant bastard." But after that it got ugly. People who regularly publish their opinions learn quickly that it's not a free ride. My introductory lesson was 55 years ago, as a teenage sportswriter in Hickory, N.C. The penciled words, angrily pressed deep into a piece of blue-lined notebook paper, declared, "You don't know football from your punkin slope head." The expression was unfamiliar to me, but I took it to be criticism.

That was then -- the days of Dwight Eisenhower and Emily Post and Billy Graham -- when most people offended by something in print made one of two choices: Get dressed and go to the newspaper office and deliver a personal rebuke, or pick up a pen (black or dark blue ink only) and piece of stationery (square, white, folded once) and write a firm, signed note.

And this is now, when nearly everyone has close at hand an electronic word whip to instantaneously flay those who offend them.

To read the complete column, visit The Wichita Eagle.

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