The point of civility is not to keep the boat steady. In his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. warned of the pitfalls of decorum, pointedly cautioning against “the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”
Rather, the point is to reprove those who champion error and injustice unsparingly — with words — in reasoned debate. That can be discomfiting enough! The duty of civility is to articulate the highest and best values in civic life. It doesn’t have to be nice, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve throwing a punch.