Keeping a Civil Tongue

Writers’ Trigger:  I would if I could, but I can’t.”

 Excuses. We all make them. Those who were foolish enough to make New Year’s Resolutions, have probably already broken them. No doubt they have excuses.

  • brainstorm a list of excuses for ‘I will be late’ or ‘I can’t come.’
  • Once you have your list, write a scene which employs excuses. Sometimes one excuse is not enough. If pressed, a person will come up with multiple excuses.



Sending misbehaving children to the bottom step or to the corner for time-out is pretty much standard practice in the United States and doing so crosses party lines. Both liberal and conservative parents warn their children, “If you talk to me in that tone of voice one more time, you will be sent to time-out!”

Children under three years are usually sent to sit in the corner or on the bottom step. Older children who can’t keep a civil tongue might be sent to their room. Teenagers are most likely to lose TV, computer, or driving privileges.

Parents hope to teach that angry words do not lead to civil discourse, and tone will affect the tenor of the conversation. A sneering, snide, sarcastic tone does not lead to dialogue. There’s not a mother out there who has not wished she had a tape recorder so she could record her child’s tone. Minus a tape recorder, she can only plead, “Listen to yourself!”

As for adults… what are we to do with the ranting mud-slingers who inflame passions and rouse the rabble? Surely their mothers taught them better. I’d like to put Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin in time-out, but I don’t know how to do that.

Where would we send them? Could we force them to sit on the bottom step of the House of Representatives? Could they channel their mothers and hear them saying, “Keep a civil tongue and attend to tone.”

What depresses me is that I have yet to hear the Republicans take a stand on the conservative shock/jocks who inflame the uninformed and unstable. Monday, Jan. 10, on BBC 4, Jon Snow interviewed Pat Buchanan, senior advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan. The purpose was to throw some light on the actions of Jared Loughner who this past Saturday shot 19 to include Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a moderate Democrat from Arizona.

Snow questioned Buchanan as to the role of inflammatory speech. Much to my dismay, Buchanan skirted the question and laid all the blame on Loughner’s unhinged mental state. He denied that Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and others of their ilk had any impact on the unstable shooter. As for Sarah Palin’s “cross-hairs” campaign that targeted 20 Congressmen and women who were up for re-election, that too had no influence.

What is wrong with this picture! I certainly understand the desire for the Republicans to keep as many people under their tent as possible, but inflammatory speech is unacceptable: we have free speech, but no one is allowed to stand up in a crowded auditorium and yell, “Fire!”

No single factor led to Loughner’s shooting spree, but that does not mean that we should turn away from looking at the factors in isolation. One factor is inflamed rhetoric.

This is no time for partisan politics. The Republicans should come out of their bunker and join the Democrats in calling for a return to civility.

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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