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In the wake of the Kavanaugh/Ford debacle, the topic of civility has once again been brought to the fore. Inevitably, in the aftermath of progressive rudeness or violence, there is a call among conservatives for a tit-for-tat response, for an embrace of the unsavory techniques of the progressive opposition, usually accompanied by an assertion that we’re in a war and we’re losing because we refuse to play by the enemy’s rules.
I’m sympathetic to this perspective: it’s extraordinarily frustrating to face an opposition that seems devoid of principle and honor and that flouts the most basic constraints of law and decency. It’s natural to want to punch back, and it’s understandable that the constraints of civility so common among conservatives would leave some feeling at a disadvantage.