A Modest Proposal to Improve Political Civility
By Garrett Baldwin
The toxic talk spewing from political punditry these days has reached dark, distant depths. Today’s putrid political dialogue has even surpassed our last round of vile, degenerate, vulgar discourtesies.
It was only last fall that commentators were calling anyone who disagreed with their ideologies “racist” because those individuals simply held competing principles on something utterly detached from any social issue: The $13.7 trillion national deficit.
This month’s outrageous outrage centers on the absurdly adolescent accusation by both parties that the other is now engaged in a “war on women.”
Callous commentators labeling law students, their fellow media members, or female politicians euphemisms for prostitutes, or asserting they aren’t “real women” because of the occupations they pursued in life, highlight the complete void of civil discourse today.
And it just gets worse across the spectrum since we lack a solution to tone it down.
Today, proposing economic restraint or balanced budget amendments now equates to drinking Darwinism from a bone chalice harvested from elderly Medicaid recipients. Standing up for gay marriage means that person also supports the long-term aspirations of men who seek horse wedlock.
Boy, oh, boy. Civil discourse sure jumped the shark. Then over a cliff, and plummeted 5,000 feet.
It’s still falling. There it goes. And our nation will follow.
With an extremely negative campaign season underway, how can we answer our President’s own calls for more honorable discourse in these trying times? Who will step forward and propose the “silver bullet” to stifle the vilification of private and public citizens of any political persuasion? Anyone…
Well, since nothing else seems to be working, we can dust off one home remedy.
If we are to restore this nation to its finest foundations of intelligent dialogue, it is time that we reinstitute another loved tradition of our Founding Fathers, something that will resuscitate public chivalry, and ensure greater respect for another person’s viewpoints.
For the sake of restoring civil discourse in this nation, it’s time we decriminalize dueling.
A Return to Rational Social Discourse
Instead of solving problems in Washington last year, our leaders further submerged us in a septic sea of schoolyard slander, loathsome libel, and mind-numbing, twirling talking points centered on flat-out mistruths, particularly over the federal budget.
The yapping yaks, spineless spinsters, and “political commentators” draped in the guise of “comedians” have guaranteed a miserable next six months of partisan nonsense.
But, dueling can turn this whole society around.
There is great value to a duel-based society in the 21st century, and three primary benefits exist: One social, one economical, and one political.
Starting with the social benefit, a simple question follows.
If Todd Palin had the ability to challenge critical commentators to a duel, would those talking heads have thought harder before slandering his wife? Now turn around and ask that question about conservative commentators and Nancy Pelosi’s husband? How about Laura Ingraham? Or what about Barbara Boxer?
Of course, people assume we would have a dueling epidemic on our hands once we decriminalize it.
But that’s not the case.
The reality is that 99.999 percent of Americans would rather dial down the attack switch than meet for armed, gentlemanly combat.
Are you willing to call Paul Ryan a murderer over Medicare reform if he has the right to challenge you to the ultimate test of will? Will you label someone a socialist if he has an endless supply of leather gloves to slap you in the head and tell you that you must meet him across the river or be branded a coward?
The memory of one’s mortality will grow seventy sizes after a bullet rattles the bird’s nest. And it would expose the actual compass of fringe pundits who callously attack others from the confines of their offices, radio booths, or television studios.
Most American talking heads are simply that… all talk.
Few, if any, have the backbone to raise a poorly designed dueling pistol, calculate the wind, and fire it with conviction at another human being.
Besides, Washington is just a swamp full of egos. It brims with individuals whose sole mission beyond robbing the treasury is to have history remember them. They want to be considered the greatest statesmen, ones who outfoxed their opponents.
But why do they need to lie, slander, and assassinate character? And why do they allow callous commentators to say such heinous things against their opponents?
Well, this would level the playing field.
Why not remind everyone within an arm’s reach of politics of their mortality and expected stateliness by reinstituting this very proud American tradition?
The mere prospect of being shot by a wildly inaccurate pistol from ten paces out would immediately reduce our hyperbolic talking heads from spewing illogical arguments and vilifying their opponents.
It would make us much saner and much more polite to one another. It would reduce the outrage, then it would reduce the outrageous outrage; restore honor to family names; and help us re-embrace what the Founding Fathers wanted: A return to men shooting at each other while wearing chamber wigs.
Dueling is the Economic Stimulus that America Deserves
Dueling will also create tens of thousands of jobs.
This industry has the potential to be just as big as the NFL, the NBA, and European soccer combined.
We’re talking about a multi-billion dollar industry from the ground-up.
Whether you’re a Keynesian or an Austrian, someone’s going to make a lot of money.
We’d sell tickets to live duels. Collect memorabilia made here in America. We’d see millions spent in the first week on dueling pitches along the banks of each city or state capital in America. Even if no duels happen for months, these locations can be used for concerts, horseshoe tournaments, live Shakespeare plays, or corporate outings.
But what we really care about is the action-packed duels that will hit our airwaves.
And with The Hunger Games breaking box office records by the day, what better way to restore dignity and courage than to combine the power of reality television and a solution to the toxic language that spews across our networks each day?
An entire television channel would spawn from the reinstitution of this time-honored tradition.
Or maybe we can finally breathe some life into C-SPAN with its own evening newscast.
Sportscenter would be replaced by Duelcenter. Keith Olbermann could finally go home to Bristol. Of course, he would probably have to abandon his “Worst Person in the World” segment, after those people on his list continue to summon him to the river to demand their satisfaction.
Commentators could broadcast live from the riverbanks of New Jersey, where the conservative and the liberal would meet after one had called the other “a merchant of death” and insulted his good name by suggesting that budget cuts would decapitate a nation of vulnerable veterans.
Las Vegas would earn a fortune in gambling revenues. Advertisers would flock to sponsor the contestants with brand name apparel.
And the duelers themselves, would certainly become celebrities; heroes that would join sports entertainment legends in the rafters of the Capitol Building.
The best dueler of 2012 would have his or her own likeness on a bobble head. And we’d have a whole new generation of noble politicos for the children to look up to in the future.
A child might even be inspired by that brave Congressman from the Great State of Kentucky who fired valiantly into the spring air in a quest to defend his stance on fiat currency.
And for the statists… the government could even justify the takeover of Smith and Wesson, since we know that if we want our dueling guns to fail, it’s best to leave all manufacturing and production in the hands of our ever so productive government.
The possibilities are endless if you’re just willing to dream… and then cash in.
Dueling Solves Political Grid Lock Once and For All
This hyperbolic pandemic has spread to every corner of the 24-hour news media.
Maybe it’s a reason to cheer silently if you’re a news editor, as it fills the airwaves and sells ads while society reacts with hateful invective to the most recent despicable statements by a political commentator with ADD – Attention-Desperation Disorder. (Note: Nowadays we call some pundits “comedians” because that endearment justifies their ability to tuck-tail and hide behind this moniker whilst bludgeoning another person’s reputation.)
Still, if you’re independent, tired of the bickering masses, or a person who just wants to come home to the news of how both candidates propose to deal with the looming crises awaiting this economy in an alley in 2020, well, good luck.
You’ll get no facts… only spin and pre-programmed talking points. Misdirection and name-calling.
It’s this deadly and dastardly art of calumniation that has destroyed this nation’s confidence in the political class and the media.
But it can all be quickly remedied.
Dueling would limit the corrupt, abrasive nonsense that bubbles from the fringes of political punditry.
It would provide accountability in an era when government and public speakers seem to have none.
It would force us to confront real issues. No more noise and misdirection.
We’d get to a real debate about the energy sector, and after three duels break out over someone being called an “Eco-terrorist” and another being called “Mother Nature’s Fornicator,” we’d shut the chamber door finally and come up with an effective energy policy once everyone is nice and behaved.
We should decriminalize dueling for just a week or so and just see how it goes.
But if that’s too far for some people, then I’ll compromise.
We can always resort to gouging or a little rough-and-tumble.