When men wore swords and an offense to one’s honour was worthy of death, it was a good thing to cultivate high manners and controlled speech. But today we ape these manners without any currency to back them up — there is no risk involved in expostulating with energy, as Ezra did. A fistfight wasn’t about to break out on the podium, or Fine challenge him to a duel.
It’s sheer feebleness and cowardly inadequacy (and believe me, as a Canadian, I’ve seen plenty of both) that makes us shrink before a full-throated argument, and then cover our nakedness with the borrowed shreds of a stronger tradition.
People will pretend that they’re trying to “win over” the bewildered, who flutter away in fear when they hear a raised voice, but those people will never be worth anything to whatever side they end up drifting to. People that cowardly will not turn into warriors for righteousness if only we pitch our murmurs at the right decibel level.