More on “Redefining Incivility”

Red Hen

Some time ago, we documented how reactionaries have a habit of redefining incivility (and civility) to suit their purposes, making huge shifts of the goalposts as it suits their needs.  In recent days, there have been two well-publicized incidents that have made this tendency painfully apparent: the Red Hen affair, and the Maryland newsroom shooting.

In case you came in at intermission, here’s the backstory. For the past couple of years the nation has been totally dominated by the character who is now in the White House. On a daily basis, he has threatened and insulted people, characterized his media critics as “fake news” and egged his fan club to commit violence. He has cozied up to Nazis and white nationalists — like the one who drove into a woman and killed her —  whom he characterizes as “very fine people”.  He is, with little doubt, the most uncivil politician in the nation’s history. But since he spends about a third of his time on vacation, he can’t be nasty full-time;  thus he has a bevy of professional liars to constantly spread his misinformation and divisive rhetoric on his behalf.

So then, as you almost certainly are aware, one of his hired liars and her companions dropped in at a Virginia restaurant called Red Hen. And she was NOT refused service. Instead, after she was served, the owner of the restaurant, having been alerted by her staff,  drove to the restaurant, talked to her workers, and after getting a consensus from them (majority vote still means something in some sectors) very politely asked the hired liar and her group to leave. With her meal on the house.

So then the hired liar immediately wrote a whiny tweet, naming the restaurant and its location (not that she’d really expect the MAGA cult to use that information, heaven forbid), and insisting that she’s going to be nice and sweet to everyone no matter how much they abuse her. This is the same hired liar who repeatedly insults journalists just for having the temerity to do their jobs in her presence. Her equally vile father also weighed in on Twitter, again naming the restaurant and location (not that he was inviting the MAGA cult to harass it or anything):

Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the “Hate Plate”. And appetizers are “small plates for small minds”

This vile father, after all, is well known for his own huge mind and tolerance and his contempt for anyone who dares to refuse service to some individuals.


And he’s also a real enormous-cerebrum stickler for class, maturity and civility.


Right-wingers in general have made it clear that they think everyone has a right to be served anywhere. Except for gays, of course. And oh yeah, Democrats. These same wingers just recently were whooping it up over the Supreme Court’s edict that a baker had the right to actually refuse service to clients — not because they’re liars or accomplices to evil government policies, but simply because they’re gay.

And when a baker actually refused to serve Joe Biden — not because of anything Biden had said or done, but simply because he didn’t like Biden’s policies — he became a hero to the GOP and the reactionary media, which declared that he was standing on his “principles”, and being one of the “mini-revolutions”. He was even invited onstage at a rally by Paul Ryan.


So how did these wingers respond to the hired liar being politely asked to leave a restaurant? They went absolutely apeshit.  (And bear in mind that these are folks who like to call other people “snowflakes”.) The so-called President of the United States weighed in himself, in exactly the manner that you would expect such a mature and civil world leader to do:

The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!

Never mind that the Red Hen has not had any health code violations in 4 years, while Mar-A-Lago has been cited 78 times in the past 3 years. Just dig the maturity and civility.

The media were all over the story, as if they’d suddenly emerged from the cocoon they’d been in for the past few years, wringing their hands and beating their chests, and crying “Whatever happened to civility?” (One answer: these same punditocrats labeled it “political correctness” and declared it to be evil.) And it wasn’t just the alternate universe cult media of Fox et al. Even the mainstream media (you know, the lamestream media, the librulmedia, the fake news media) chimed in with the chorus. Including the stalwart Washington Post, which normally is at least conscientious enough to elicit the harshest condemnation from the MAGA cult. In an editorial titled Let the [T—p] Team Eat In Peace, the Post opines that it’s a tongue-clucking shame so many people won’t allow these verminous government officials to just clock out at 5, forget all the loathsome things they’ve done during the day, and just kick back and have their private moments. Even though the Post acknowledges they are anything but deserving of such consideration:

Mr. Trump has ordered terrible violations of human rights at the border, he is demonizing immigrants by his actions and his rhetoric, and people need to speak up however they can.

They will get no argument from us regarding Mr. Trump’s border policy, and when it comes to coarsening the debate, he is the prime offender.

So we’re all clear that resisters are quite justified in resisting. Even the WaPo is clear on that point. And yet, it has insisted that these egregious offenders should be left alone to pass among us and behave as if they were perfectly normal and benign. Furthermore, the WaPo insults its readers with this (and hang onto your seat if you’re reading this for the first time):

How hard is it to imagine, for example, people who strongly believe that abortion is murder deciding that judges or other officials who protect abortion rights should not be able to live peaceably with their families?

How hard is it to imagine?? Seriously? HOW HARD IS IT TO IMAGINE???? Not very hard at all for anyone who isn’t comatose. Not only are people who protect abortion rights not allowed to “live peaceably with their families”; in some cases, they aren’t allowed to live at all. There have also been many instances of women’s clinics being bombed, defaced or otherwise attacked. And just about any woman who patronizes Planned Parenthood, even for a routine exam, faces a threat of harassment and abuse.

The MAGA cult heard the dog whistles and picked up on those subtle hints about the name of the restaurant. So they went online and began leaving nasty reviews, and death threats (in a very civil manner, no doubt) even though most of them had never even set foot in the place. In fact they targeted any restaurant named Red Hen, even those totally unrelated establishments hundreds or even thousands of miles away (one in the Philippines!) as well as the Red Hen chicken farm in frigging Montana. And a Red Hen restaurant in Georgia that closed in 2010.

Many such places were deluged with nasty online messages, nasty reviews, nasty telephone calls, and even vandalism. All very civilly, of course. Even when these establishments informed the cultists that they were different and unrelated businesses, the cultists often refused to believe it. They also jammed the (real) restaurant’s reservation system with phony reservations, so actual customers were unable to make them.

Those cultists who did manage to scrape up enough rudimentary geography to locate the actual target of their (civil) ire showed up in person with civil anti-gay picket signs, civil threats of violence and even a bucketful of chicken shit, presumably produced by very civil poultry, that was dumped in front of the restaurant. The restaurant owner who (politely — did we mention that?) asked the hired liar to leave was compelled to resign from her position and the Red Hen itself had to stay closed for several days.

And how did the indignant punditocracy respond to all of this? Well… um… we’ll surely be able to let you know any day now.  We can tell you, though, that what they did do was lash out at Congresswoman Maxine Waters for urging other citizens to take a stand and give a cold shoulder to the administration’s evil henchmen. What else should we do? Welcome them with open arms, and thereby imply our consent to their foul deeds? But to hear the punditocracy tell it, she’d said something like… well, “if ballots don’t work, maybe bullets will”.

In fact the talking headlesses pointed the finger of blame at Waters a couple of days later when a gunman killed 5 people in the offices of the Capital Gazette in Maryland. Just try to wrap your head around that. A man slaughtered people with a gun (which “liberals” are always trying to restrict, and supposedly trying to “take away”); the victims were journalists (which the current putative president has been demonizing for months and months); but somehow a congresswoman who urged citizens to voice their displeasure with the current administration is supposed to be responsible for the bloodbath. Never mind that a certain right-wing rabble rouser*, only days before the shooting, had called for journalists to be massacred. Of course when someone did just that he offered the standard defense that he obviously was only joking hahaha and how could you be such an idiot as to take him literally even if deranged gunmen almost certainly would. All while being perfectly civil, no doubt.

Meanwhile, the wingnut blogosphere had a lip-smacking orgy of civil delight and celebration over the tragedy, saying among other things:

Good, hopefully they kill every fucking journalist.

AWESOME! MORE! MORE! MORE! I hope the police stand down for a while.

This story will be updated when more anti-gun faggots crawl out from under their rocks. as [sic] an aside, only 4 dead???? wtf if you are going to target reporters at least kill 400

dead journalists can’t spread leftist propaganda

Journos will pretend they did not deserve this despite being insufferable cunts

I seem to remember leftists talking about consequences

WOO! WOO! WOOOOOOOO! I can’t wait to see who our shooter is.

I hope many niggers have been killed.

And other such warm outpourings of right-wing civility. Along with, of course, all the usual loony tunes stuff about “false flags”, “crisis actors”, etc. And what kind of censure does the Foxiverse have for this kind of civil behavior? Well, um… we’ll get back to you on that. Eventually. Surely.

It isn’t just moving the goalposts. It’s moving them all the way into the bleachers, and then demanding more space.  It’s working the refs, it’s invoking false equivalence and bothsidesism, it’s gaslighting. These people are playing a schoolyard game in which they get to walk up behind you and club you in the head, but when you turn to complain about it, they call time out, demand a safe space, and whine to the teachers about you bullying them.  And the absurd media narrative about “civility” plays right into their hands.

(*As you may have noticed,  I have adopted a policy of not naming odious individuals if I can avoid it. The last thing they deserve is more free publicity and ego-fluffing.)





  1. When ‘libruls’ complain, it’s a pejorative “political correctness”. But when conservatives complain—and even discriminate and kill—it’s a virtuous “defending our rights”. The U.S. is perhaps the most hypocritical nation on Earth, and neocons are the worst among us.

    • (I am posting this comment on July 9, 2022);

      There are Democrats who comment on social media sites who engage in back and forth insults, but Trump’s people must have invented the proverbial, making mountains out of molehills defense–and visa verse. When it comes to racial prejudice and a selective list of constitutional rights, Republicans (especially the MAGA kind) have attacked school boards for teaching facts (without insulting white students or using curriculum that is full of untruths But in the future we are going to experience such great audacity and incredible kinds of conspiracy theories that they will make 2018 seem like a cakewalk, and one which is deemed as so-called, pejorative political correctness.

      Spreading the awareness that certain name-calling, and ways of stereotyping those who are different than us, are not legal issues (They are merely ways to help us not aim pejorative criticisms at anyone,
      including Democrats (who dare to disagree with conservatives). White privilage for instance, is not something that is often deliberately chosen or accepted. Many white people (like me), are simply born into cultures and societies where racial bias has NOT been a fundamental part of the social fabric in the places we are born into i.e. Most white people were given easy access to voting while black Americans were forced to pay poll taxes or to perform nearly impossible feats—like reciting the preamble (backwards) word for word, or being expected to know the first, second, and last names of all our Presidents and recite them in French! Or else something as relatively sane as guessing how many jelly beans are in a large container?—but getting once chance only. These are all not universal analogies, but rather, are off the cuff examples of obstacles that have been used as voter suppression tactics).

      In reality, as a northern democrat who grew up as part of the middle class, I never had been forced to sit in the back of a city bus, denied the use of restrooms marked “whites only,” or been afraid of even smile at a white woman for fear of being tortured and killed by the KKK–(as was 14 year old Emit Till)! So in its most common form, being ignorant of white privilage is simply not knowing how those things feel to anyone who is black (particularly during the 50s and 60s) and in the American south (for example). We may be able to talk the talk, but we cannot, and have not, walked the walk. So, we are unaware that we have been able to enjoy a degree of freedom that many other Americans have not. Thus we cannot fully understand how it feels to walk in the moccasins of another, (to borrow a common saying) attributed to Native Americans. It’s a social phenomenon that many white people were not born into and thus cannot understand. It was NOT, devised as a way to insult Republicans and Trump supporters!!

      So having not felt the pain personally, we are surprised to find out that all white Americans have been (to some extent) influenced by the phenomenon known as White privilage. If you and I use racial slurs and insult black people by using the N word, we are not really guilty of a crime and cannot be arrested. However, it’s a matter of common decency not to use such odious language and words to dehumanize or fellow men who are viscerally offended by them.

  2. This is an absolutely wonderful post and the way you inject tongue in cheek humor is very fitting. Your next to last paragraph portrays the problem perfectly, when you say:

    “It isn’t just moving the goalposts. It’s moving them all the way into the bleachers, and then demanding more space. It’s working the refs, it’s invoking false equivalence and bothsidesism, it’s gaslighting. These people are playing a schoolyard game in which they get to walk up behind you and club you in the head, but when you turn to complain about it, they call timeout, demand a safe space, and whine to the teachers about you bullying them. And the absurd media narrative about ‘civility’ plays right into their hands.”

    We all know that not all republicans are quite as entrenched into the MAGA cult as others, but there are enough of them to make this whole business of manipulating people with the persistent use of lies, misinformation and disinformation seems tragically appropriate (as it is)! And how those peace loving Republicans for Trump, keep rationalizing away all their lies and violent mindsets, seeming to never, ever, never, ever, ever, ever, doubt the greatness of the guy who has become their schoolyard bully king, is beyond me, and beyond reason! Perhaps he teaches them that childish anger is OK when they do it, but counts against any liberal who even dares to show anger (like a snowflake)? I guess for once, they’re (openly) standing behind the kid who doesn’t accept what those dumb adults keep telling him? However, he and they have expressed their rebellion in the form of anti-intellectual bias and/or rude denial of “political correctness”—in other words, (Politeness),— saying something like– “Damn right! My people are being villainized–so I’ll just turn the whole God bless it, table turning, and double downing stubbornness, around—and defy their stupid no, no’s?”

    As you point out, when angry people expressed their anger by politely telling Sarah Huckabee to leave a restaurant, that is unacceptable treachery in the highest degree! Yet a baker whose business is based on serving the public— (all of the public), can suddenly become a hero by claiming that he is being religiously discriminated against when refusing to sell a gay couple a simple wedding cake?

    I’ve heard that the SCOTUS made its decision based partly on the fact that the baker was treated rudely by the Colorado chamber of Commerce? So apparently if someone views the constitution as an authority that exists to protect one person’s rights by denying those of others, it’s now acceptable for the Highest Court in the land to completely ignore its own precedents? Heaven help me if a rapist hurts my wife so badly that she expresses anger, or if officials in our State reflect her anger by showing open hostility towards the defendant—who had no right to hurt her in the first place!

    To place all of this in context, (Remember the court’s ruling on DOMA)? —Now, regardless of the baker’s clear violation of the gay couple’s constitutional rights, the courts can choose to support someone who broke the law, (in defiance of the 14th amendment)! And the SCOTUS’s prior ruling on DOMA means that even if the baker treats the couple like second or third class citizens, by behaving as if the gay couple had no right to be served by a public business owner—when anger and rudeness are involved— the baker suddenly has the perfect right to refuse them service? i.e. Next perhaps—out come the axe handles and police dogs left over from Alabama in 1964!

    We all know private property is usually protected first, while human rights and dignity often aren’t! So, God help us if any in our defense teams express understandable anger in response to unlawful bias directed at gays? African Americans, Republicans, or anyone else!

    My feeling is that the SCOTUS should have officially reprimanded the gay couple who was being discriminated against, as well as the officials who acted on their behalf—encouraging them to remain civil during litigation. Then the Justices could have clearly gone forward with the business of enforcing the law! This ruling, which basically protects the baker’s rights not to serve those he considers immoral, for example, (potentially Jews who don’t accept Christ as their savior), in addition to the bizarre ruling in Citizens United, have effectively neutered the justice system by issuing two of the most irrationals and obscene edicts that the court has ever delivered!

    We are now in uniquely dire times, which have been created by those who place their own greed and lies ahead of truth, decency, and our constitutional rights! We are on a slippery slope created by pro-business court bias–-which now asserts that even understandable anger towards those who refuse to respect a minority group’s equal protection under law, justifies the court’s acceptance of the completely perverse idea that religious bias can help dictate the course of social and legal justice? But then, you’d better not believe me. I’m just a “snowflake” afraid to face reality. As Jesus said, “Damn those God hating snowflakes!” (just kidding).

  3. Hello POP,
    Yesterday I tried to repost a comment which contained edits of a similar comment which I had at first, left on this thread. I asked you if you could delete my first comment and post the second one instead, but when I hit post, it seems both comments vanished? My comment was fairly long and I spent quite a bit of time proofreading it before I tried to post it here. So if you do find anything lost in cyberspace that looks like a comment meant in response to your latest article, please publish the second one. In the meantime I’ll try and repeat a few things which I remember saying;

    This second to last paragraph of your article sums it up pretty well:

    “It isn’t just moving the goalposts. It’s moving them all the way into the bleachers, and then demanding more space. It’s working the refs, it’s invoking false equivalence and bothsidesism, it’s gaslighting. These people are playing a schoolyard game in which they get to walk up behind you and club you in the head, but when you turn to complain about it, they call timeout, demand a safe space, and whine to the teachers about you bullying them. And the absurd media narrative about “civility” plays right into their hands.”

    You truly bring up a perfect point by discussing the polite request made by a restaurant owner that Sarah Huckabee should leave his business, and then comparing the outcry from enraged Republicans in that case, to events like the Supreme Court’s ruling which defended a baker’s right to refuse a wedding cake to a gay couple?

    The rationale behind the Justices decision included the observation that the officials in colorado had been extremely critical of the way the defendant was treated by the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, when it responded angrily to this clearly wrong minded and mean spirited discrimination—regardless of our common rights as set down for everyone, in the 14th Amendment—as well as the recent Court ruling on DOMA which asserted the fact that a gay couple is entitled to every protection and privilege under law that is granted to any other citizen! Next “Christians” will seek, and continue to misrepresent the truth, because their dubious and unethical protestations can now be used to justify their ends?

    We have recently seen further perversions of first amendment rights when our fearless Orange King launched public condemnations of black football players who protested in completely non violent, and minimally inconveniencing way—simply taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem?

    Yet somehow the baker was regarded as a patron saint for religious freedom and President Trump was heavily praised for screaming, “Get them the Hell out of here!”

    And yes, it’s the Republicans stupid! There is no equally odious assault from the left, even though lawful protestations, are largely described as unpatriotic violations of some assumed and universal code of bogus Patriotism? The overriding defense used commonly by Republican ideologues, includes accusations of overly emotional appeal used by the left, and unfair treatment of conservatives at the hand of people who, in reality, simply want to assert their rights for a peaceful redress of their grievances—while those on the right fought for their completely odious and hypocritical rights to be rude and intolerant of any possilble left wing extremes—including extreme actions approved by the SCOTUS on the part of controlling our “unpatriotic” citizens?

    Those of us who stayed awake during high school civics classes clearly understand how completely unpatriotic and biased these attacks on our constitutional right to protest, have been. Was it Sinclair Lewis who said, “(When Fascism comes to America it will be carrying a cross and be draped by a flag)?”

    If our King is allowed to defy and misrepresent our rights as free Americans too much longer, the results of his frequent lies and manipulations will only inspire newly cherished acts of civil disobedience, in response ot his infamy!

    If he refuses to budge I am going to take to the streets and help vote out president Trump as well as his extreme disregard for fairness, and our diverse American ideological/ theological freedoms! What else is left for any of us to do?

    • Sorry, Peter, I thought I’d replaced the first comment with the second one. Not sure how they both got deleted.

      • This one above is enough. Many times I have spent a great deal of time writing long responses, only to have them disappear, as (I think), my fingers accidently brush several keys at once. It’s a bummer, but the Doctors tell me I will live.

        Take Care POP!

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