By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
One goal of a civil society is to promote civil discourse. One goal of civil individuals and institutions is to know when to confront incivility and when to ignore it as foolishness.
Taxpayers can resist having to pay for speech that we consider offensive. Stockholders and customers can put pressure on companies that disregard our values.
However, when we lose perspective and act as though every offensive message constitutes a crisis that must be fought with all available resources, we send at least two unintended messages:
1. Only “acceptable” speech should be protected.
2. We are instant victims: Just add words and stir.
On a related item: For the sake of those who missed it the first time, I’d like to repeat what one wise young man at Ole Miss was emphasizing Tuesday. The campus was slightly abuzz over whether students would help replace Colonel Rebel, and countless hours and thousands of dollars’ worth of advertising and labor had been devoted to the argument over inclusiveness vs. tradition.
David McDowell stood quietly in front of the student union with a handmade poster. On it were pasted with graphic photos of buildings aflame in a war, skin-and-skeleton humans in a famine-ravaged land and people struggling against the mass destruction of Haiti’s earthquake. Juxtaposed were the image and name of Colonel Reb, followed by a question mark.
McDowell’s scrawled imperative should have shamed the most ardent on both sides. It read simply, “Get Your Priorities Straight.”
One must really love bobsledding to watch it live at the Olympics. One pays for his ticket and then makes the long, grueling climb up to one’s seat. Then, faster than you can say “Here-it-comes-there-it-goes,” the action from any given vantage point is over.
Kind of like earthly life.
Having dosed you with that cheerful thought, let me leave you with something slightly lighter.
The reprobate in me surfaces at some of the most inopportune times.
In a recent class, Pastor Jeff was emphasizing that in our church, scripture is supposed to be the basis of every belief or practice. Trying to make the point more graphic, he pulled an illustration out of deep left field.
“Some religions have sacrificed children to their gods,” he said. “So if they did it, why don’t we?” He was hoping someone would answer something like, “Because the Bible condemns such practice.”
Instead, I blurted, “Because we can’t agree on whose?”
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662)
281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.