Civility Linkblogging: Accountability, Gemeinschaftsgefuehl, and Bush 41

Linkblogging
By Anita Pratanti, via flickr

This post is part of our ongoing effort to highlight discourse about civility around the web. Our articles for civility linkblogging come from a wide cross-section of blogs and newspapers, magazines and other websites, from the United States and abroad.

This week’s post features a story about the civic consequences of uncivil words. After Frazier Glenn Cross shot and killed three people outside of two Jewish community institutions in Overland Park, KS, Marionville, Mo. mayor Dan Clevenger spoke out in the killer’s defense. And in the process, he made his own anti-Semitic views clear. But the Marionville town aldermen would have none of that. And standing up for a culture of civility and respect, they forced Clevenger to resign.

If you have an article that you think would be right for future civility linkblogging posts, please do not hesitate to email it to us at editor@instituteforcivility.org. Include the title, url, and a short summary, and we will gladly review it for publication.

Now — the list:

Electile Dysfunction: Campaigns need Civility
Posted by David Steury at The Bowdoin Orient on April 17, 2014

I don’t want to argue for civility as a virtue. Obviously, the defining feature of these ads is vitriolic and often rude rhetoric, but a lack of civility is a symptom, not a problem in and of itself. It’s a symptom that feeds back into and perpetuates the original problem of polarization, but politeness is not inherently a virtue in politics, a realm where remaining silent can result in disastrous consequences.

While ads such as Rosendale’s and Winteregg’s may just be pure political calculation to win votes, they legitimize an environment in which lawmakers can hate each other, engage in ad hominem attacks, and imply violent action against things with which they disagree.

Civility and community: Lovin’ Lyndhurst
Posted by Maria Shine Stewart at Cleveland.com, April 18, 2014

Alfred Adler, psychologist, used the term Gemeinschaftsgefuehl, and that means, roughly, a form of “social interest” that marks both community health and personal well being. It’s perhaps a precursor of civility, and accompanies it. I was blessed with a compassionate and German-speaking mom, probably the greatest blessing of my life, so I learned that no matter how much or how little one has materially, it is possible to give and to share something. (I also learned to pronounce some fairly tricky words.)

Acts of kindness teach our muscles to be kind; we can thus really grasp what it feels like to help. And conversely, if we ever muster the art of humility at any age, we also learn what it feels like to receive help without pushing it away. That, too, is an art.

Mayor of Marionville, Mo., Trips Over Vile Speech
Posted at the Kansas City Star, April 22, 2014

After the horrific killings on April 13, [Marionville Mayor, Dan] Clevenger had the impolitic impulse to utter a few words about his view of Jewish people in business and government. That put him in line with his anti-Semitic, white Supremacist, charged-with-murder buddy…

Clevenger, of course, has his free speech privilege to say whatever foul thing comes into his head (with widely recognized limits regarding defamation and inciting violence). No one is denying him that right. But as a public official, Clevenger has now learned that speech has its consequences. On Monday night his community stepped up on the side of civility and forced Clevenger to resign.

Bush 41 Still Displays Civility, Graciousness Along With Courage
Posted by Carl P. Leubsdorf at The Columbus Dispatch, April 25, 2014

Two weeks ago, he turned up at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport to greet President Barack Obama during his Texas visit. “When the president comes to your hometown, you show up to meet him,” explained Bush, looking good and displaying a firm handshake.

His visit also sent a signal that, though he and Obama are quite different politically and ideologically, the presidency deserves the respect that many of today’s partisans pointedly ignore.

Even During a Protest, Civility Is Necessary
Posted by Sanjay Perera at Today Online, May 2, 2014

It was disconcerting to read of a way of protest developing in Singapore that has come close to burning effigies of a minister and defacing a poster of the Prime Minister.

People should vent their angst in a proper manner.

Even civil disobedience, which is far from violating images of people, has the word ‘civil’ in it.

A caricature of someone is one thing; there is always an element of humour. However, to encourage possible thoughts of violence is another.

Have people forgotten that a troubled person set alight a Member of Parliament some years ago?