Guest Column: The downside of civility

Those of you familiar with my writings and rantings know that I am interested in politics. Those of you who actually know me understand that I enjoy sports much more than I enjoy politics. As I submit this, the Cubs are preparing for their 2003 campaign. I can think of no better time to explain a few reasons I prefer baseball to politics.

In baseball, players wear uniforms. Some uniforms are very classy; the Yankees and Cardinals come to mind. I enjoy Cubs blue, and have never enjoyed a single Padres uniform I’ve ever seen. In Congress, you have blue suits with red ties. Black suits with blue ties. And if you’re watching House Committee on Assassinations reruns, leisure suits with really wide ties. In baseball, some players wear batting gloves, eye black, and Oakley sunglasses. Use your creativity, dudes. I pay you good money. At least wear a “Saddam annoys me” button, or something.

In baseball, I love to hear about trades. Our catcher dealt to San Francisco for a relief pitcher with an ERA in the fives. Woo hoo! Just once I’d like to hear of a congressman getting dealt to the 5th District in Minnesota for a page, some office equipment, and an intern to be named later.

In baseball, games are determined on the field, with a scoreboard, and discussion on Sportscenter a few times a day. In Congress, the officials before the vote rarely read bills. Still, they vote in favor. Votes are decided in back rooms the citizen never sees. If a game goes extra innings, the players don’t get paid extra. If Congress stays overtime, the critters get paid per diem. How quaint.

In sports, there is far more freedom of the press than in politics. You can rip your team’s manager up one side and down the other, and still have your job the next day. If a Beltway writer were to write about the president being a fascist, you can be sure his embedding would be limited come the next major speech. I’d much prefer piranha-like reporters and an educated public to docile reporters and lemmings at the ballot booth.

Now that the school board elections are over, I offer my two cents on civility. We want our children to learn to be productive members of society. The least we can expect is civility from our school board, right?

When children misbehave, we initially use very civil methods to stop their actions. If misdeeds continue, we become less civil each time in teaching them a lesson. We can go from a stern talking-to to a possible whipping and grounding for a month in a few simple steps, if the hazard is great enough.

Civility in government should go only so far. It could be argued that the last time we had a civil school board, our community’s price was a guilty plea, plunging test scores, and valued families and businesses moving away. Very civil, indeed.

We need more principled people in all levels of government, willing to speak out, even at the risk of being considered a firebrand. I wish the new school board members the best. Just don’t turn a blind eye to any ugliness you see, just to remain civil. Until a layer of government is frugal and trustworthy, its principled employees should be constantly kicking up a fuss.

And with that, I thank my outgoing school board representative Stephanie Caltagerone for her efforts while on the board. If all the deadlines would have been met and standards reached, I’m sure you would have been a quiet, civil lady.

Coming soon, global cops.

Tim Huwe is a libertarian activist and freelance writer.

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