Return to civility


IT'S a free country, my father used to say. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, he went on to elaborate, shunning nice grammar.

Most people of my father's time agreed. Cliche-ridden as these ideas might have been, they were a gesture of respect for the guy with a different idea. The recent House impeachment hearings show how much we have slipped.

Make no mistake, this country has always argued with itself spectacularly. We did, after all, have a Whiskey Rebellion and a Civil War. We have always done poorly when we relied on scorn, disrespect and recrimination. These days that's our specialty.

Perhaps we need to redefine some of our terms, beginning with what we mean when we say liberal and conservative. Those terms used to indicate what our attitudes were concerning change. Liberals promoted it. Conservatives were uneasy with it. That seemed to work. Now they are special terms of malice. Let's go back.

I guess that makes me a conservative.

Arnold Rosenfeld is editor-in-chief of the Cox Newspapers. His e-mail address:

Pub Date: 12/23/98

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