by Zoe Pollock

After being compared to a Holocaust denier because of a piece he wrote criticizing Elie Wiesel, Terry Teachout fired back:

I'd like to think that anybody who read a piece (or a posting or tweet) in which I was compared to a Holocaust denier would simply roll his eyes and move on. But I'm old enough to know better. More and more of the American people are choosing to live in closed circles of collective concurrence, and I have no doubt that in certain of those circles, those who read such an attack on me would nod their heads sagely and say something on the order of "Yep, it figures. Probably beats his wife, too."

George Washington once drew up a list of rules of civility. Here is the first one:

1st Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

I'm with the father of our country. To be gratuitously nasty in public discourse is like relieving yourself in a swimming pool. Even if nobody knows you did it, you still made the pool a dirtier place for everybody--yourself included.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.