Liberals Are Idiots and Conservatives Are Ignorant

On a recent tour my sister and I were conversing with a woman from Canada whom we had gotten to know during the tour. “I enjoy hearing you two talk to each other,” she told us. “You sound genteel.” We immediately thought she was referring to our Southern accent, but she went on to explain that her daughter was attempting to teach her young child to be more genteel and not use words like “stupid”. So my sister and I looked at each other and said in unison, “It was our mother.”

What our friend from Canada was referring to was civility. Words like “idiot”, “stupid”, and “imp” were naughty words in our home when we were growing up. They were as bad as, if not worse than, curse words and were strictly forbidden. It was always very tempting, though, to call a sibling idiot, or stupid, or, my favorite, “you little imp”. But if my mother heard us, we would always be punished.

I still have an aversion to those words, or, more exactly, the misuse of those words. Some things are idiotic or stupid and should rightly be labeled so. Often, though, we use them to express our anger and/or impotence, as we did as children, so the misuse of these words often seems childish to me. They also seem to be expressions of lazy, intolerant, and closed minds. Not to mention arrogant. If someone doesn't agree with me they must be stupid, right? Referees and umpires, commentators, politicians, are frequently stupid, wacko, and lame-brained. It is so much easier to hurl these insults than come up with an intelligent response, to disagree civilly.

I notice incivility most often in the United States in our political discussions. Not the politicians only, but all of us. I notice it often online. I even notice it here on Hubpages. I am guilty of it myself sometimes. (It can be so tempting.) I enjoy a good political discussion about issues and listen and read often to learn. Strong, passionate disagreements are all acceptable, but I immediately tune out and turn off anything that sounds uncivil, insulting, and childish. That rules out talk radio. It also rules out much online chatter. I make exceptions sometimes if something is really humorous.

Our friend from Canada said her three-year old granddaughter would sometimes put her head under the covers and mutter, “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”, trying out the words her mother was forbidding. So if you're tempted to use insults, may I suggest you go put your head under the covers rather than clutter the airways or web with them.

Being insulting and intolerant not only is hurtful to others but also limiting to us. If we cut ourselves off from relationships with those who disagree with us, we are limiting our experiences. There may be things we can learn from those who differ with us. They may differ not because they are stupid but because they have different life experiences and/or are at different places in their life. We can believe others to be wrong without labeling them stupid. All of our relationships do not need to be with like-minded people. If we're looking for a life partner, that may be a good criterion to use, but other relationships with those who differ can add richness to our lives.

Using the logic of this essay, however, I suppose I would have to ask Al Franken to take back what he said about Rush Limbaugh—but I did make that allowance for humor.

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Comments 7 comments

jwmurph profile image

jwmurph 6 years ago from Tennessee

This is certainly level-headed, even-handed and well thought out. Jo indicates the way that all of can be more agreeable, and I think, better people if we follow her advice.

Beege215e profile image

Beege215e 6 years ago

Jo, I couldn't agree more. When I was young the mother of a friend of mine said that using what she called "hurt" words reflected a small mind. She always told us to think about what we were saying and How it would be heard. Swearing and insults were products of that small minded individual. We, she said, were better than that. We started using that education while with her, and it just became natural. Later a professor made a comment to me about the way I talk positively and he said he wished everyone could avoid "verbal abuse" as well. So you and I have just this little something in common. Thanks for a well written hub, absolutely brilliant

jo miller profile image

jo miller 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

murph, thanks for reading and commenting.

beege, thank you for reading and for your kind comments. I'm pleased that you enjoyed it. I am enjoying your hubs as well. I mostly follow those whose writing I like. I like to get a sense of the person doing the writing and your hubs are especially good at that.

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

I really enjoyed this and found it helpful. I think that using words like "stupid" and all the other insults we hurl at each other are childish and hurtful and unnecessary. Debate around an issue is good, even robust debate. But calling people names is just, well, stupid! Er, make that "unhelpful"! LOL!

Civility is seemingly in short supply these days, and that's a pity.

Thanks for sharing

Love and peace


nursepam profile image

nursepam 6 years ago

I love this article, i hope more will follow... thanks Jo!

jo miller profile image

jo miller 6 years ago from Tennessee Author

@nursepam, thank you for stopping by and commenting. It is appreciated.

promisem profile image

promisem 6 months ago

This has one of the funniest headlines I've seen on any Hub. I strongly agree with your premise and wish more people would learn how to be civil when talking about politics.

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