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Scott Lax Blog

Devolving Social and Political Manners Bodes Ill for Writing. What You Can Do.

There's a new and alarming lack of civility in the country: in congress, awards shows, at so-called "Town Hall" rallies and marches, which have taken racial slurs and hate-speech to levels not seen in this country since... I don't know when, really.

Does this devolution in public behavior translate to writing? Yes. Read cleveland.com, or any number of comments sections in any number of the nation's remaining newspapers. Thoughtful (usually) articles are followed by comments, the seeming majority of which are teaming with anonymous vitriolic and hateful language.

Editors foolishly allow this. An editor of a major American daily paper sheepishly told me over lunch that it's because they need "the clicks"; they need to show advertisers that people are reading (and spewing on) their Web sites. Quality no longer counts. Only clicks; only dollars. He knows it's wrong, but his bosses demand it.

It's sad and pathetic, and it's growing. All the more reason for those of us who love language and believe in civility and honest criticism instead of rage to resist this trend.

We have a president who is civil and decent and forceful without invoking hate speech. As writers, we can join his example.  Read More