John Ostrander: The Uncivil War

by John Ostrander

“Fuck civility!”

Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig, an author of (among other things) Star Wars novels and comics, was working on a Darth Vader miniseries for Marvel when his editor informed him he was fired. Wendig said it was “because of the negativity and vulgarity that my tweets bring… It was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.”

It should be noted this is Wendig’s characterization. Marvel has not commented beyond confirming Wendig had been removed.

On October 6, Wendig tweeted: “There will be renewed calls for civility. Ignore them. They ask for civility as a way for you to grant them complicity in what they do…Civility is for normalcy. When things are normal and working as intended, civility is part of maintaining balance. But when that balance is gone, civility does not help return it but rather, destabilize it further. Because your civility gives them cover for evil. . . Note: this isn’t the same as calling for violence. But it is suggesting that you should not be shamed for using vigorous, vulgar language. Or for standing up in disobedience. Or for demanding acknowledgement and action in whatever way you must. . . Fuck Trump. But he’s just the ugly fake-gold mask they’ve put on this thing. Fuck all the GOP, fuck that blubbering, bristling frat boy judge, fuck McConnell, Ryan, Grassley, Collins, every last one of them. Fuck them for how they’ve shamed victims and helped dismantle democracy. . . They will tell you to smile, that we need to get back to business, that we gotta heal the rift and blah blah blah — but that’s the desire of a savvy bully, who wants you to stop crying after he hit you, who wants you not to fight back. But you can cry. And you can fight back. “

Basically, as some put it: ”Fuck civility.” 

Wendig triggered a lot of replies including, especially, some conservative to right wing fans and pros with the apparent desire to stir up enough noise to get Wendig fired – which it did. That’s a thing now. Electronic bullying designed to intimidate, belittle, or in the case of Chuck Wendig, cost them a gig. Hit them in the pocket book. It’s no longer a battle of ideas or even competing philosophies. It’s kill. It’s destroy. The offense is that the other side exists.

My question is – did Marvel and/or its parent company Disney clearly state in the contract with Wendig that this kind of language and this kind of attitude expressed on the Internet could be cause for termination? Did they warn him at any point before he was fired? Or did they just pull the trigger? Are they making it easier for the trolls to win? The trolls have a plan: raise enough of a ruckus and you can damage your opponent/victim. You can silence them – which is the real purpose. That’s how you win – and that’s all that matters to them. Go for the jugular. Forget the argument being made; attack your opponent personally. If it’s a woman, threaten rape or death.

What do you do? Chuck Wendig suggests replying in kind. Former AG Eric Holder said: “It is time for us as Democrats to be as tough as they are, to be as dedicated as they are, to be as committed as they are. Michelle [Obama] always says, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. No. When they go low, we kick them.”

Here’s my problem. When Trump is gone (that day will come) we’ll still have this festering wound. To my mind, that’s the real damage to the Body Politic. I’ve heard comparisons made between our era and Germany before WW2 but I don’t think that’s the most apt comparison. I’ve read history and the current rancor feels to me like this country just before the American Civil War. That’s what we’ll still have to deal with when Trump himself is gone; that will be his lasting legacy.

I don’t have an answer. I don’t know how else we oppose the trolls. I fully understand the desire to fight fire with fire. I feel it, too. To fight the enemy, however, do you have to become the enemy? If we do, haven’t we lost the real battle? The only thought I’m left with is this:

Fuck incivility.

John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. It’s been awhile since he’s been here, but now John’s back with a new column at a new blog, PopCultureSquad, where this piece first appeared (with lots of pictures even). You can learn more about John and his many masterworks HERE