Opinion

Commentary: Can't we try speaking civilly when talking politics?

When Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin were in town a couple weeks ago, I walked over to the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center to take in the scene. People with tickets to the show stood in a line that wrapped around the building. An industrious kid wove through the crowd, selling little American flags

I rounded Seventh Avenue and ran into a small cluster of anti-Beck/Palin protesters standing outside McGinley's Pub. One of them, she looked to be in her 20s, was holding a sign that said something snarky about Beck not being a patriot. Except "patriot" was missing an "r." I am a terrible speller, so my heart went out to her, as it does to all people who make spelling errors in public.

"You're missing an 'R'," I said.

"Yeah, you can't even spell," hissed a lady walking by on the sidewalk near us. "You should have been a 9/11 victim."

What possesses a person to say something like that? Likely the same thing that got into the adult, or at least I think they are an adult, who logged onto the comment section of a recent Daily News story about Senate-hopeful Joe Miller and typed, "Joe Miller is a douche." Five other commenters hit the "like" button before the comment was flagged and deleted.

Juvenile. Irrational. Mean. Those are some words that come to mind when I think about how to describe the way people talk to each other about politics. I don't think it's my imagination. The conversation has gotten more vicious over the last few years. Why? Is it the economy that makes people more on edge? Has there been too much change, too fast? Or not enough change at all? I'm all for civic dialogue, but lately it seems like all we've got going on is shouting between people working with entirely different facts. Sometimes it feels like war.

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