Civility Linkblogging: Reddit, West Virginia, California, and NYC Subways

Civility Linkblogging
A Lynx, because Linkblogging

This post is part of an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility from around the Web. We glean the links in this segment from as broad a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues, from the United States and around the world.

This week brings two very interesting developments. The first is a pair of articles — one from The New York Times and one from The Chicago Tribune, about the aftermath of Ellen Pao’s resignation as CEO of Reddit, and what it portends for the state of civility on the popular website and around the Internet more broadly.

The second is a photo essay by Luis Tsukayama Cisneros, sociologist at The New School for Social Research, about the formation of community and civility on New York City subways.

As always, 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:

Mingo Woman Starts Campaign Encouraging Civility
Posted by Marcus Constantino at The Charleston Gazette-Mail, July 15, 2015

Teresa McCune said the Campaign for Civility is aimed at fostering behaviors “founded upon the fundamental dignity and worth of all our community members and to creating a climate that is characterized by respect for each other.”

She said she wants to give people the opportunity to express their opinions and work toward solutions in a civil, respectful way, and she wants to encourage small acts of kindness that can make a difference in people’s lives.

Online Trolls Winning Battles, but War of Civility Left to Wage
Posted by Mary Schmich at The Chicago Tribune, July 19, 2015

Some people say Ellen Pao wasn’t a good CEO at Reddit, and that’s not just the trolls talking. True or not, her job performance doesn’t matter in this regard.

What matters is her message: Online harassment, wherever and however it occurs, is wrong.

What matters is that people at the top of the Internet power structure see that and say it.

If every top manager at every media and Internet company had the experience Pao just had, of being widely vilified online, they’d work harder at figuring out how to keep the trolls from winning.

Who Would Take Issue with Request for Civility? COLAB, For One
Posted by Tom Fulks at SanLuisObispo.com, July 19, 2015

Supervisors recently voted unanimously to adopt a symbolic resolution doing nothing more than asking people to be nice and stay on topic when addressing elected bodies. Who could object to that?

The Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, of course. COLAB — a front group for developers masquerading as farmers — seemed particularly affronted by the LWV’s suggestion that relevance and civility are worthy ideals….

My old pal Dewd MacDougal likens them to recidivist gas passers. It’s usually the offender who first raises the odious alarm, attempting to deflect blame, he says.

“The smeller’s almost always the feller,” Dewd often says.

I can’t disagree.

When the Internet’s ‘Moderators’ Are Anything But
Posted by Adrian Chen at The New York Times, July 21, 2015

The moderator class has become so detached from its mediating role at Reddit that it no longer functions as a means of creating a harmonious community, let alone a profitable business. It has become an end in itself — a sort of moderatocracy in which the underlying logic of moderation has been turned on its head. Under the watch of its moderators, Reddit has become a haven for extremists: The Southern Poverty Law Center recently called it the new “home on the Internet” for white supremacists, and it also functions as the central organizing point for the dubious “men’s rights” movement….

Any attempt to enforce real-world norms is rejected by the moderatocracy as impinging on their absolute authority over their miniature domains. Even before the revolt, Ellen Pao sparked much consternation by instituting an anti-harassment policy and banning a handful of subreddits with particularly vile content — Redditors nicknamed her Chairman Pao. Ohanian has excused Reddit’s underbelly as an inevitable result of human nature. But Reddit has made a strategic choice to abdicate responsibility to the moderatocracy in exchange for the promise of meteoric growth, even if its new chief executive, Steve Huffman, recently vowed to crack down on the worst subreddits.

Between Personal Stories and the City: Civility in New York City Subways
Posted by Luis Tsukayama Cisneros at Culture: The Unintended Consequences of Looking Sideways

Co-presence (being at the same time in the same space) of people is important for civility to exist because culture and meanings are never static, they are created in interaction between individuals (Goffmann 1966, Mead 1934, Berger and Luckmann 1966). But even when there are no direct interactions between individuals there can be a consciousness, a realization, that there are people one sees everyday in the subway who are going through same situations as us and similar lives to ours. People create the social world together, but this creation is based on how we understand it in our consciousness (Schutz 1967). Civility is based not only in the actions of people, but also in how people perceive and understand themselves phenomenologically within a society. Likewise, civility is not necessarily dependent on interaction between individuals, but rather, contact (Delaney 1999) and acknowledgment.

Civility Linkblogging: Marriage Equality, Classroom Management, and Social Media

Civility Linkblogging
A Lynx, because Linkblogging

This post is part of an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility from around the Web. We glean the links in this segment from as broad a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues, from the United States and around the world.

This week, look out for two main issues: how civility can (and does) enhance discussions about marriage equality and gay rights in general, and civility as a tool for classroom management. In the days surrounding the recent Supreme Court marriage legalizing same-sex marriage, we saw stories about how people on both sides of the issues have come together to have civil discussions, and we saw stories about public officials urging civility among their constituents. While outside of the United States, in the UK, we have an extended discussion by Scottish teacher and author Tom Bennett about the value of civility as a tool for modifying behavior in schools.

As always, 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:

On Same-Sex Marriage, Finding Civility but Not Common Ground
By Emily Cadei, at Newsweek, June 24, 2014

Yet even as they prepare to do battle on the policy front, both Red Wing and Vander Plaats plan to continue their dialogue, both publicly and privately. Several more public events are tentatively slated for this fall. Vander Plaats hopes it can demonstrate, to politicians and the public, alike that civility is not the same thing as conceding to the other side: “What they’re going to find is we’re not leaving our beliefs.” He’s also encouraging members of his evangelical community to do similar outreach with those on the other side of a particular issue.

Still, they’re just two voices in a cacophony of political campaigns, Super PACs and talking heads that have converged on the state in the advance of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses next February. “As we get more and more into this presidential political caucus time, can Bob and I on some level help de-escalate some of the anger, some of the aggressiveness and animosity” of campaign season? Red Wing wonders. “I don’t know.”

Indiana Attorney General Urges Civility, Respect for Marriage Ruling
Posted at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, June 26, 2015

Indiana’s attorney general is asking residents to treat each other with civility and show respect for the U.S. Supreme Court following its ruling requiring all states to recognize same-sex marriage.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement Friday that the court’s 5-4 decision won’t change much in Indiana because the state has allowed same-sex marriage since last year.

We Need to Help Children Develop Habits of Civility and Learning that Last Them a Lifetime
By Tom Bennett, at TES Magazine, June 26, 2015

I’ve worked with new teachers for years on this. I’ve run behaviour management forums for most of my career, and I’ve heard thousands of problems from year after year of teachers. I’ve visited well over 100 schools in my career, and the challenges are often the same: many staff don’t feel trained to handle behaviour, schools often lack clear and effective systems to manage behaviour and many senior staff are unsure how to create a system that works for all parties. This is too important to get wrong. …

Everyone wants a magic bullet intervention that costs little and raises attainment. Well, here it is: make sure every teacher is trained to run a room; make sure every leader and manager is trained to design systems that support behaviours that focus on the common good. Tweak those coordinates early enough in the career of every educator, and watch the lessons land.

Has Civility Lost Its Way on Social Media?
By Kathi Kruse, at Kruse Control, Inc., June 29, 2015

Has Civility Lost Its Way on Social Media? Or is social media just a reflection of a much bigger issue? Have we lost our way as a culture, where civility towards our fellow sentient beings has diminished to the point of no return?

After observing this situation for awhile now, I realize that some of it is simply people reacting. But reactionary behavior makes it easy to lose control of one’s faculties and good judgment. Things can get so bad that the concept of “think before you post” doesn’t even enter into your consciousness.

Make no mistake, misdirected anger and social media do not mix well.

Local League of Women Voters Aims for Civility at Public Meetings
By David Sneed, at SanLuisObispo.com, July 2, 2015

The nonpartisan group has been working on this subject for the past two years but has made it their main focus this year. On Tuesday, county supervisors will consider adopting a resolution by the group promoting civility in conducting business with elected officials, county staff and the public.

“This is not a whim; this is a passion,” said Marilee Hyman, immediate past president of the League. “Civil discourse is necessary to make democracy work.”

Supervisors are expected to approve the resolution. Last year, they voted unanimously to give a $1,800 grant to the League to fund its civil discourse campaign.

Civility Linkblogging: Violence, Economists, and Jack Lew

Civility Linkblogging
A Lynx, because Linkblogging

This post is part of an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility from around the Web. We glean the links in this segment from as broad a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues, from the United States and around the world.

This week’s post centers around issues of civility in how we respond to violence. In addition to a piece about civil responses to June’s church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, we include a discussion about civility in activism responding to the Tamir Rice police shooting in Cleveland, Ohio. And we include a piece about balancing one’s own needs and beliefs with the needs and beliefs of others when it comes to open carry gun laws.

As always, 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:

Man With Rifle Scares at Airport: How Important Is Civility to Open-Carry?
Posted by Patrik Jonsson at The Christian Science Monitor, June 6, 2015

Indeed, as Texas is set to become the largest state to allow open carry, the evolution of the practice encompasses not just gun rights, but shifting notions around self-defense and even growing insecurities for many blue-collar, white men in America, some of whom see gun carry as central to “duty, relevance, even dignity,” as Jennifer Carlson, a gun rights scholar, writes in the Los Angeles Times.

“Yes, gun owners can do this, and maybe it does some good by raising awareness that this is the law,” says Brian Anse Patrick, a University of Toledo communications professor and author of the upcoming book “PropaGUNda.” “But there’s still this funny area around etiquette and frightening people” that draws a line between “Second Amendment ambassadors and Second Amendment exhibitionists.”

In Peaceful Protests over Police Verdict, Cleveland Has Just Seen Values in Action
Posted by Patricia Frost-Books, Kim Richards, and Ratanjit S. Sondhe at Cleveland.com, June 7, 2015

Just after Tamir Rice’s death, some leaders sought to squelch the public dialogue, pushing it behind closed doors or within favored institutions with specific agendas. Thoughtful people pushed back on this idea. It never happened.

Instead, there were listening tours, community meetings, congregational meetings, street meetings and school meetings. Rage was vented. Pastors and organizations recommended changes to the mayor and the U.S. attorney. Gov. John Kasich created a diverse task force on police conduct. Police allowed demonstrators to yell at them. They responded calmly — civilly. Dialogue ensued. It was messy at times, but people were heard….

How we each strive to be a part of that solution is key. Are we a community of silos and self-interest that ignores our oneness? Or do we become a community of values, one that models kindness, caring and respect and enables success?

Don’t Squander Opportunities for Real Debate by Heckling
Posted by Elihu D. Stone at The Jerusalem Post, June 10, 2015

It is uncomfortable being booed off of a stage for merely voicing an opinion or articulating an idea. It can even be uncomfortable to watch someone else get booed off a stage. All other things being equal, common decency and decorum would seem to demand that anyone invited to speak at a diplomatic conference who politely voices a democratically elected administration’s policy deserves at least respectful silence while speaking.

However, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was not accorded that courtesy this week at the annual Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference – and that has some people feeling very uncomfortable.

Civility Breaks Out Among Econ Wonks
Posted by Noah Smith at Bloomberg View, June 19, 2015

I’ve started to notice a funny thing in the last two years, in the blogosphere and on Twitter. There is a lot more agreement than before, and the discourse on economic issues is a lot less poisonous.

This will come as a surprise to people who follow Twitter and blogs. These have been the years of Ferguson and Eric Garner, of GamerGate, of the Rolling Stone rape story. The cultural battles around race, gender and identity rage unabated, and the flames are fanned by vicious anonymous provocateurs.

But in the economics and policy world, the winds have begun to shift. A new atmosphere of comity, patience and rationalism is prevailing, and it’s breaking down barriers between liberals and conservatives, interventionists and free-marketers.

Civil Behavior Abounds in Response to Tragedy
Posted by Carolyn Lukensmeyer at The Huffington Post, June 22, 2015

The tragedy last week in Charleston, S.C., in which nine people were murdered, has evoked a local, state and national response bathed in civility. In fact, what we have witnessed since the shooting on June 16, sets an example for the nation of the hope and promise that can come from collective demonstrations of civil behavior….

Just days after the shooting, the families of the nine individuals who were murdered offered up a vital lesson for the nation on the power of civility. Roof appeared on screen at the bond hearing and, one-by- one, family members spoke directly to him on screen, forgiving him for what he did. To a person, these individuals, who spoke from places within of deep pain, abounding grief, offered prayers for Roof’s soul and forgiveness for what he did.

Civility Linkblogging: Home Runs, Japan, and Islam

Civility Linkblogging
A Lynx, because Linkblogging

This post is part of an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility from around the Web. We glean the links in this segment from as broad a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues, from the United States and around the world.

This week’s post highlights the possibilities of civility amid rivalry and disagreement. It features a piece about convicted civility — and how it can be enacted in the workplace. It covers the storied 1961 battle between Yankees Micky Mantle and Roger Maris to break Babe Ruth’s home-run record. And it highlights a kind of resolution between the seemingly conflicting values of free speech and civility, and the seemingly conflicting forces of Islam and the United States.

As always, 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:

The importance of Civility: What We Can Learn from Japan
Posted by Rob Walker at RN, 11 May, 2015

Civility was a determining factor in 2011 when we began to consider spending another year in Japan.

Back in Australia I’d noticed a further decline in civility, not just in schools but in society at large. Political discourse didn’t seem possible without personal insult anymore, whether it’s in parliament, on the radio or on the internet.

We returned to Japan in 2012, this time teaching senior high school and adult students.

For me there was a huge sense of relief.

Four Ways to Bring Convicted Civility Into The Workplace
Posted by Paul Jankowski at Forbes, 12 May, 2015

One of the most important places to exhibit convicted civility is in the workplace. This is where we spend the majority of our time and we need to invest in creating an atmosphere that fosters healthy, spirited debate. So what do you do when there is a disagreement? I’m not talking about a disagreement over what kind of coffee should be stocked in the office…but rather something that touches deeply on a person’s values, convictions and beliefs. How do you acknowledge a difference of opinion?

On Appreciation
Posted by Bea Larsen at Beyond Civility, May 15, 2015

Our need to be understood and appreciated goes to our very core. Yet, when in conflict with another, our need to project strength, not weakness, may obscure the importance of this human condition.

The M&M Boys: A Profile in Civility
Posted by Michael Beschloss at The New York Times, 22 May, 2015

Phil Pepe records in his 2011 book on the home run race, “1961*” (Triumph Books), that when Maris was booed, Mantle would joke, “Hey, Rog, thanks for taking my fans away.”

The two players laughed at stories that their contest had turned them into personal enemies. Mantle recalled that when Maris once brought the morning newspapers and coffee back to their apartment, he said, “Wake up, Mick, we’re fighting again!” Another time, when Mantle spotted a sportswriter next to Maris, he deliberately called out, “Maris, I hate your guts!” and the next day, the two men searched the papers to see if the reporter had succumbed to the ruse.

Free Speech and Civility in America and in Islam
Posted by Sarah Sayeed at The Huffington Post, 28 May, 2015

If we want Muslim societies to adopt democratic commitments to free speech, we must advocate and be role models of both free speech and civility, understanding that democracy requires both. Ultimately, we cannot advocate for free speech at the price of civility. If what is free speech to us is interpreted as hateful and uncivil to many Muslims in other parts of the world, we will be unable to effectively communicate the merits of free speech.

Building bridges with Muslims and paving the way for democracy will be easier when we leverage the similarity between Islam’s speech rules and America’s. The first word revealed to Prophet Muhammad is a command to “read,” which affirms the importance of reasoning and critical thought. The Quran instructs followers that diversity is created by God, in order that we learn from one another. “Shura” or mutual consultation, is a Quranic commandment, in both private and public realms, consistent with democratic practice. … These principles and practices support plurality of thought and free speech. They also provide a foundation for respectful debate about Islam and Muslims’ practice of their faith.

Civility Linkblogging: Balancing Civility and Free Speech

Civility Linkblogging
A Lynx, because Linkblogging

This post is part of an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility from around the Web. We glean the links in this segment from as broad a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues, from the United States and around the world.

This week’s articles, on the whole, highlight an important question about civility: how can we balance it with free speech and the free exchange of ideas? In that vein, we have a write-up of a panel discussion at the University of Arizona. We have a response to author Salman Rushdie’s lionization of free speech, even at the cost of civil dialog. And we have some advice: that the best response to free speech that offends us is more speech — not violence.

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:

Panelists Balance Free Speech, Civility
Posted by Terrie Brianna at The Daily Wildcat, April 30, 2015

A friend of Barber’s and member of Kozachik’s Ward, Patterson said that the conversation on freedom of speech and civility is very important.

During the panel, Patterson referred to a bumper sticker he has seen around Tucson that implies a support for guns.

“We have to find ways to help people, who are civil people, find their voice in ways that can be heard and not be uncivil,” Patterson said. “Beyond that, we have to face a culture that promotes violence. We have movies and television … [and] a culture that says the way that we deal with conflict is through violent action.”

Respond to Free Speech You Don’t Like with Civility
Posted by Jennifer Hancock at The Bradenton Herald, May 1, 2015

Assaulting people whose speech upsets us is unacceptable. If we want to live in a civil society, where speaking your mind does not means risking your life, we must start respecting the rights of people who disagree with us. We have to stop enabling bullies who attempt to silence speech with violence. We must insist on civility and stop rationalizing away this violence as somehow justified.

The correct response to speech you don’t like is more speech; not death threats or violence.

‘Pussies and Wimps’: Why Salman Rushdie’s Plea for Free Speech Rings Hollow
Posted by Derek Edyvane at The Conversation, May 6, 2015

Civil self-censorship can help to create a more constructive discussion. It can also help to create a more democratic discussion in which all voices are heard. And to stand up for civility of this kind when everyone else is yelling can actually be quite a courageous thing to do.

That being said, there are certainly some valid free speech concerns about the appeal to civility. Throughout history, powerful elites have used particular understandings of what counts as civil or polite and uncivil or impolite behaviour as a way of stifling the speech of disadvantaged groups.

What Eye Contact — And Dogs — Can Teach Us About Civility In Politics
Posted by Alisa Chang at NPR.org, May 8, 2015

There’s a common perception that looking a dog in the eye can make it uncomfortable. That would certainly bolster the Minnesota theory. But dog behavioral expert Clive Wynne at Arizona State University’s Canine Science Collaboratory said it’s more complicated than that.

“A dog that’s wagging its tail happily while it looks another dog in the eye is maybe communicating something friendly,” he said, “whereas a dog that growls and has its hackles raised in a very tense body posture — the eye contact may just intensify that threat.”

In other words, eye contact for dogs is like eye contact for humans. When there’s genuine goodwill, eye contact can be a positive thing.

Constructive Listening Can Build Civility in Politics
Posted by Robert Lillegard at The Duluth News Tribune, May 9, 2015

I had the most unusual conversation about politics the other day…. Really, the strangest thing about the conversation was what it was missing.

Polarization.

It actually dawned on me partway through the talk. We’d disagreed on everything from the recent looting episodes to the justice system, but insults hadn’t come up. We hadn’t questioned each other’s motives or called each other names. We hadn’t accused each other of ruining America. Everything was perfectly … civil.

Civility Linkblogging: high school, history, and Hakarat Hatov

Civility Linkblogging
A Lynx, because Linkblogging

This post is part of an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility from around the Web. We glean the links in this segment from as broad a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues, from the United States and around the world.

This week’s links feature two pieces that are particularly notable. The first is an article by J. Patrick Coolican that should remind us, in slightly irreverent terms, that while working toward civility is important, incivility is not a new problem in the United States. It is as old as Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, as old as Senator Charles Sumner being beaten on the floor of the Senate by Representative Preston Brooks. And acting as though it is a product of 21st century gridlock is disingenuous.

The second notable piece is in The Times of Israel. There, Rabbi Arnold Samlan makes the simple and powerful observation that we can learn civility — perhaps best — from the people with whom we most vehemently disagree. He tells us that simply recognizing when another human being has done something good for you should provide us enough common ground to cross political lines.

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:

Is Civility a Lost Art?
Posted by Lynne Agress at The Baltimore Sun, March 12, 2015

When we live among others, we must be aware of them. Too many individuals think the world revolves only around them.

“Be agreeable,” says Professor Forni. Benjamin Franklin put it even better: “If you [want to] be loved, [then] love and be lovable,” which is, of course, a rephrasing from the Bible: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Celebrating Civility
Posted at U-T San Diego, March 21, 2015

Excerpts from Celebrating Civility Awards high-school essay contest finalists.

I see civility as respect for others and their opinions, acknowledging differences in each other and valuing them for the diversity that they bring, not the divisions they can create. To me, open-mindedness is a key part of civility, because politeness is not polite when only applied to the people who agree with you most. True respect is shown when you can give weight and value to a different perspective.

I think that my generation is better at this than any that came before us. We are more open-minded and accepting than our parents and grandparents. We see the divisions of race and gender and religion less starkly than those that came before us.

What We Can Learn From Patrick Henry’s ‘Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death’ Speech
Posted by Carson Holloway at The Daily Signal, March 23, 2015

First, the speech reminds us of the importance of both civility and candor to a healthy politics. Perhaps surprisingly in view of its impassioned ending, the speech begins by noting the importance of civility. Henry opens his remarks by acknowledging the “patriotism, as well as the abilities” of those who spoke on the other side of the issue. He disclaims any intention to be “disrespectful” to them.

Nevertheless, the speech also points to the need for a candid civility. The stakes in play—freedom or slavery—require each citizen to speak his mind forthrightly. Only on the basis of such open debate, after all, can we “hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility we hold to God and our country.” Civility means not seeking to give offense. It does not mean avoiding hard truths because they may offend others.

Sarcasm in Politics? Whatever.
Posted by J. Patrick Coolican at StarTribune.com, March 28, 2015

Now come the civility finger-waggers. The news release says a team of policy fellows from the Humphrey School is launching “Keep It Civil MN.” …

The fever swamps of the Internet have certainly produced a vile stream of noxious rhetoric catalyzed by what’s been termed the “online disinhibition effect,” though the simple solution is to look away from the digital morass.

Because the stakes of the political process are often great — the role of government, war and peace, the rights of the individual vs. the state — these democratic debates arouse passion and sometimes even rancor. It has always been thus.

Lessons on Civility, Israeli Elections and President Obama from a Bad Food Experience
Posted by Arnold D. Samlan at The Times of Israel, March 29, 2015

And there you have it. Hakarat Hatov, the incredibly Jewish value of recognizing when another human being has done something good for you. And kavod, honoring the image of God, wherever you find it. And I apologize to you, my new friend. Because even though your opinions and mine do not align, you have taught me an object lesson in kavod haberiot, respect for God’s creatures. And you reminded me that, even though our opinions might be different, I should never believe for a moment that I don’t have something to learn from you. Because now that I have learned from you, you are my teacher and therefore are always to be treated with respect.

Civility Linkblogging: Traffic, Facebook, and More on Tom Schweich

Civility Linkblogging
A Lynx, because Linkblogging

This post is part of an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility from around the Web. We glean the links in this segment from as broad a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues, from the United States and around the world.

This week’s edition of civility linkblogging is somewhat eclectic. It includes a follow-up to last week’s post about the suicide of Missouri state auditor Tom Schweich. But it also includes an article about parenting that reflects on how to teach children about dealing with incivility. It includes some advice about Facebook. And it includes a reflection on the relative success of civility and community-mindedness in San Diego, California.

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:

Practicing Civility in an Uncivil World
Posted by Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes at The Washington Post, February 25, 2015

I have always made an effort to put things in context for my children, when they have been sad about mean behavior on the playground or as they start to become aware of larger truths about suffering in the world, but I had not been doing that for myself, I realized, not really. I was protecting myself with anger, too.

I now turn and look at people when they’re rude to me, not afraid, I hope, to show them that they’ve hurt me just a little, and let them see that hurt, not the anger and ugliness that we so often put up in front of our pain. Maybe their pain will see mine, and we’ll recognize something in each other that reminds us that being a little kinder is the only rule we ever need to know.

Three Ways for Facebook Users to Handle Offensive or Abusive Content
Posted by Amina Elahi at The Chicago Tribune, March 3, 2015

Facebook policy prohibits harmful or hateful speech, including that which glorifies violence or threatens others, [Monika] Bickert said. She said the company relies on community members to report abuse, which staffers review and deal with accordingly.

“We want to give people a variety of weapons,” Bickert said.

She outlined the different ways Facebook users can handle offensive or abusive content.

Civility: An Impressive Regional Achievement
Posted by Malin Burnham and Steven P. Dinkin at U-T San Diego, March 5, 2015

San Diego has been blessed with a regional trait that makes those advantages possible: We share a belief in the power of “community before self” and we know how to cooperate in pursuing common goals and building a stronger society.

Over time, our regional culture of collaboration has been tested by a series of political and economic challenges here at home and on the national stage, and it has proven resilient at every turn. We think it’s important to keep that in mind as we prepare for a new election season and confront the complex issues impacting our community.

After Tom Schweich’s Suicide, Kansas City Council Urges Political Civility
Posted by Lynn Horsley at The Kansas City Star, March 5, 2015

In the wake of Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich’s suicide, the Kansas City Council on Thursday adopted a resolution urging civility in politics and in the coming council elections.

Councilman Ed Ford was the lead sponsor of the resolution, which got unanimous council support. He said it was prompted in part by Schweich’s untimely death in the midst of an apparently vicious whisper campaign about his candidacy for governor.

“The eloquent words of (former) Sen. (John) Danforth at his funeral put a lot of things in perspective,” Ford told his colleagues.

The resolution cites Danforth’s eulogy at Schweich’s funeral, in which he said, “Words do hurt. Words can kill.”

Civility in American Life isn’t Dead, But it’s in Decline
Posted at Lehigh Valley Live, March 8, 2015

Let’s be clear: Civility isn’t the fuel of democracy, it’s the primary lubricant. You can conduct business at full throat and invective; it just doesn’t work very well, and the gene pool for good, interactive government shrinks. It confirms the growing sense in American politics that common ground is unobtainable, even undesirable. It’s for wimps, and no one ever accomplished anything through reason.

You can go online and see what good-public-manners advocates say about civility. A public relations firm, Weber Shandwick, tracks people’s opinions on this. It comes as no surprise that a large majority of Americans says we’re getting more ornery every year. Yet to do anything about it risks the likelihood of being shouted down.

It’s like we’re feasting on our ability to listen.

Civility Linkblogging: Education, Religious Expression, and Free Speech

Civility Linkblogging
A Lynx, because Linkblogging

Welcome back to civility linkblogging. In this recurring segment here at the Civility blog, we highlight discourse in print and around the web that engages with notions of civility, either by expounding on some aspect of it we might not otherwise think about, or by showing us civility — or lack thereof — in action.

This week’s links come at the nexus of what we here in the United States think of as the First Amendment. The majority of our articles this week are about religion, free speech, and civility. We have one that offers some guidance on the limits of free speech in an educational context; another that points toward a balance between religion, politics, and civility; and a third about policing civility in one of the world’s largest collaborative scholarly projects — the Wikipedia.

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:

The Humanities Can Help Us Rekindle Notions of the Common Good
Posted by Bernard L. Kavaler at The CT Mirror, January 20, 2015

Nearly half of millennials – significantly more than any other generation – now accept the notion that incivility is part of the American political process. But in a recent poll by Weber Shandwick, nearly one in four millennials believe civility will improve over the next few years, two to four times the percentage of other generations. While 56 percent of millennials say the Internet and social media are making civility worse, they remain optimistic.

Given the dizzying changes and challenges that demand our response, common ground and the common good are too often viewed — to our collective detriment — as unwelcome capitulation, unbridled naiveté, or utterly unattainable.

Civility and Free Speech in Education
Posted by David Moshman at The Huffington Post, January 21, 2015

What to do? Nothing in any Supreme Court decision requires censorship. Far from promoting civility, censorship is itself uncivil. Teachers can and should promote civil discussion without censoring or punishing uncivil speech. They can be models of civility, can urge and remind students to respect each other, can engage students in serious argumentation, and can evaluate the quality of their arguments. None of this requires censorship.

Sometimes there will be controversy about what gets said and sometimes there will be efforts to prevent or punish uncivil ideas or modes of expression. We should not assume that if academic freedom is threatened the First Amendment will come to its rescue. Rather than rely on wishful thinking about constitutional law, educators at all levels must clarify and explain the academic basis for academic freedom and promote policies that protect that freedom for all.

Civility Is a Currency We Must Value
Posted by Martin Flanagan at The Age, January 24, 2015

Culturally and politically, I belong to the West. I happen to believe in parliamentary democracy… That people can routinely commit appalling deeds while claiming to be acting in the name of religion is precisely why I do not wish to live in a religious state. I want my daughters and granddaughters to have access to the social rights and liberties that have been hard-won by women in Western societies. I believe in a secular democratic society and intend to do my bit defending it.

What I am arguing for is civility. To quote a diplomat’s wife from the 18th century, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, “Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.” As for Ali Faraj, he and I’ll keep talking. About what? About everything. At the moment, he’s badgering me to take him for a trip around Tasmania. He knows I’m from down there and wants to see the place. Ali loves Australia.

Incivility Is on the Rise. Five Ways to Avoid Being Part of the Problem
Posted by Michelle Powell at AL.com, January 26, 2015

Millennials reportedly experience bad behavior on a daily basis. And admittedly, they are themselves the culprits four in 10 times, yet Millennials are the very generation with the most hope that things will get better.

The 2014 report shows 23 percent optimism for improved civility in future America as compared to no more than 11 percent from the other generations.

So what does all of this mean for business? According to the study, an uncivil work environment has caused 27 percent of millennials to quit a job. And because of poor treatment by a company representative nearly half (49 percent) have either stopped patronizing a company or told others not to support that business.

Civility, Wikipedia, and the Conversation on Gamergate
Posted by Philippe Beaudette at the Wikimedia Blog, January 27, 2015

Civility is an important concept for Wikipedia: it is what allows people to collaborate and disagree constructively even on difficult topics. It ensures people are able to focus their energy on what really matters: building a collaborative free encyclopedia for the world.

A group of trusted, long-term volunteer English Wikipedia editors (known as the Arbitration Committee) is now reviewing the conduct of the editors who participated on the Gamergate controversy article discussions. Their mandate is to review editor conduct, and address disruptions so that Wikipedia can remain a civil, productive place for all editors. They may do so through issuing warnings, bans, or other means.

Civility Linkblogging: Violence and the Value of Images

Civility Linkblogging
A Lynx, because Linkblogging

If honest and broadbased discourse about civility can be seen as an encouraging starting point for a change in pubic culture, then 2015 is off to a particularly encouraging start. This January has already seen articles written about civility as it relates to a wide range of topics including local government, protests against police brutality, partisan relations in Congress, and reaction to the attack on Charlie Hebdo. And those subjects are just to name a few.

This is, of course, our first edition of Civility Linkblogging of the year. It is part of our ongoing effort highlight discourse about civility around the web. In the past, we have claimed that our articles come from as wide a cross-section as we can manage of blogs, newspapers, and magazines from the United States and around the world. And this week confirms it. You’ll note, as you read, two firsts: a piece that comes out of the southern African nation of Zambia, and another that comes from a newspaper in Turkey.

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:

Civility in Politics
Posted at the Zambia Daily Nation, January 2, 2015

Conflict resolution is a matter that is taken very seriously in African culture It involves dialogue through proxies and peers. This is a value we should not lose even when we foreign media practitioners who may not understand the significance of Ubuntu.

That is why we very concerned by the growing shrill discourse which at times is downright uncouth and uncivilized…

If for no other reason, civility must be observed to safeguard the cordial political atmosphere in which we can debate and indeed exchange robust barbs. When words are spoken out of turn there is always a mutual obligation for contrition.

Social Media, Communication, and Civility
By Tom Clifford, posted at The Montgomery Advertiser, January 5, 2015

The author’s video of an impromptu “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protest generated a significantly above average amount of comments, with folks calling the protest everything from “inspiring” to an “idiotic and illegal waste of time.”

But here’s the thing. It provided a respectable and safe environment for people with widely divergent opinions to express themselves. To start a conversation.

And in a city like Montgomery, with its rich and complicated history, and where race relations continue to factor in to most every aspect of life, this can only be a healthy development.

City Program Designates 2015 as the Year of Civility
By James Fenton, posted at the Farmington Daily Times, January 6, 2015

Civility First, a program of the city’s Community Relations Commission, will celebrate a new era of kindness and respect in San Juan County at a public event at the Farmington Civic Center on Friday, Jan. 16.

Sprung from bimonthly discussions between Mayor Tommy Roberts and members of his minority issues roundtable, the program seeks to make Farmington a place where all people feel respected and receive quality treatment in area businesses, as well as in the public square.

13 Milliseconds to Civility
By Carolyn Lukensmeyer, posted at The Huffington Post, January 9, 2015

While Boehner’s words did not ring with wild optimism, the picture of him planting a kiss on Pelosi’s cheek told a different story. In the photo, Boehner clutches an oversized gavel in his left hand, while his right hand is looped firmly around Pelosi’s back. She has her right hand on his shoulder and a Mona Lisa type grin, eyes shut, as Boehner kisses her cheek.

Research last year out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that the human brain can process an image when seen for just 13 milliseconds….

In short, the image of the Democratic and Republican leaders embracing can go a long way toward planting in the American public’s collective mind that there is, in fact, hope of compromise, civility and unity among the individuals trying to lead our nation forward. One quick gulp of that picture, which has been widely displayed on-line and on the front pages of newspapers, implants a sense of hope in this New Year that we can work civilly together.

Countering Blasphemy with Civility
By Mustafa Akyol, posted at the Hürriyet Daily News, January 10, 2015

we Muslims need to get to the bottom of the issue, which is how we shall understand Islamic law in our day and age. What is needed, in other words, is nothing short of a “reform.” But mind you; this is a reform with a small ‘r’ not a capital one, for the matter here is not challenging the authority of a central church, as Martin Luther did in the 16th century. The matter here is to how to renew the interpretation of the diverse traditions of Islam in the light of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and other human rights….

None of this means that Muslims have to be happy with the mockery of their faith. They just have to counter it with civility, rather than rage and violence. To see why, one of the things they can do is to read their Qur’an a bit more carefully.

Civility Linkblogging: Universities, and the Potential for Civility’s Abuse

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 edition of the segment is devoted to some of the high-profile debate regarding civility that has taken place on and around university campuses in the month of September. In September, administrators at the University of California, Berkeley and Penn State University called for civil discourse from faculty, students, and alumni as the new semester got underway. But as several of the articles featured here pointed out, civility in this context is not without its dangers. As James Hanley of Ordinary Times writes, campus ‘free speech zones’ and civility codes

are directly aimed at civility, being put in place with the understandable purpose of trying to protect female and minority students from offensive language. But their actual speech impact often goes beyond that, and even that goal can run afoul of the First Amendment.

This particular thread of debate becomes heated at times, and carries with it some strong language. But for folks who are interested in the range of possibilities for how calls for civil discourse might impact a community, this thread of debate is an invaluable read.

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:

From the Free Speech Movement to the Reign of Civility
By Nicholas Dirks, U.C. Berkeley Chancellor, posted at Reclaim UC, September 5, 2014

For free speech to have meaning it must not just be tolerated, it must also be heard, listened to, engaged and debated. Yet this is easier said than done, for the boundaries between protected and unprotected speech, between free speech and political advocacy, between the campus and the classroom, between debate and demagoguery, between freedom and responsibility, have never been fully settled. As a consequence, when issues are inherently divisive, controversial and capable of arousing strong feelings, the commitment to free speech and expression can lead to division and divisiveness that undermine a community’s foundation. This fall, like every fall, there will be no shortage of issues to animate and engage us all. Our capacity to maintain that delicate balance between communal interests and free expression, between openness of thought and the requirements and disciplines of academic knowledge, will be tested anew.

Specifically, we can only exercise our right to free speech insofar as we feel safe and respected in doing so, and this in turn requires that people treat each other with civility. Simply put, courteousness and respect in words and deeds are basic preconditions to any meaningful exchange of ideas. In this sense, free speech and civility are two sides of a single coin – the coin of open, democratic society.

A Message from the Leadership at Penn State
Posted at Penn State News, September 5, 2014

The question is whether a lack of civility in discussing these issues will create a deeper divide, one that alters the remarkable bond that exists between all those who are a part of the Penn State community. Consider just a few examples that you may have also come across – the alumnus who says he lost his best friend over his opinion of the Freeh report; the alumni trustee candidate that faced dozens of unkind comments; the long time donor of time and treasure who no longer feels welcome.

Debate and disagreement are critical constructs in the role of universities in testing ideas and promoting progress on complex issues. But, the leaders of your University at every level, from the administration, faculty, staff and students, are unanimous in deploring the erosion of civility associated with our discourse.

Penn State Fans Torn Regarding ‘Civility’ Email
Posted by Julia Hatmaker at Penn Live. September 6, 2014

Friendly – that was the best way to describe the scene at the tailgates for the Penn State vs. Akron football game at Beaver Stadium on Sept. 6.

It was a far cry from the “incivility” that the members of the Penn State community were accused of in a letter from the university’s leadership on Sept 5, or what Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers has seen.

“Within our own University, we have seen disagreements that have been uncivil, and comments that are downright rude on some of the issues we have faced,” wrote Powers in a statement to PennLive.

When the letter was brought up at the tailgates, feelings were mixed. Some felt the plea for civility regarding feelings concerning the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case and the firing of Joe Paterno was valid.

Universities Need Less Civility and More ‘Shit-Kicking’
Posted by Dennis Hayes at Spiked, September 11, 2014

Courtesy is all well and good, but it is a dangerous and censorious etiquette that is being promoted by Dirks and others. Towards the end of chapter two of On Liberty, John Stuart Mill argued against those who warned against ‘vituperative’ speech. Such strictures are the weapons of the powerful, he said:

‘With regard to what is commonly meant by intemperate discussion, namely invective, sarcasm, personality, and the like, the denunciation of these weapons would deserve more sympathy if it were ever proposed to interdict them equally to both sides; but it is only desired to restrain the employment of them against the prevailing opinion: against the unprevailing they may not only be used without general disapproval, but will be likely to obtain for him who uses them the praise of honest zeal and righteous indignation.’

One way of silencing free speech is not to attack what is said but to attack the tone, attitude or demeanour of the speaker. It is a convenient way of telling people to ‘shut up.’

Academic Freedom — Pleas for Civility Meet Cynicism
Posted by Peter Schmidt at University World News, September 12, 2014

Faculty members appear to have become more defensive of their speech rights as a result of several recent high profile battles around the nation over the boundaries of academic freedom.

Going into the summer, college administrations had been struggling to adjust to changes in communication brought about by social media, with their capacity to make controversial speech go viral and to amplify outside pressure on institutions to rein in faculty members whose statements give offense.

Then, in recent months, the military conflict in Israel and Gaza greatly intensified debates in academe over Israel and its treatment of Palestinians, prompting scholars on both sides of the issue to use such heated rhetoric they tested administrators’ willingness to continue supporting unfettered debate.

Free Speech Does Not Require Civility
Posted by James Hanley at Ordinary Times, September 12, 2014

There are other reasons I find the UC Chancellor’s letter disturbing, even if it was just badly written and did not convey his intended message.

First, no leader likes conflict within her/his organization. University chancellors have a demanding enough job without having to deal with students screaming at each other, making each other emotionally distraught, having protests that result in certain segments of the community expressing their outrage at the institution for allowing, and so on. A university chancellor, whatever their personal beliefs in freedom of speech, have an understandable incentive to want a calm, peaceful, civil campus.

Second, despite the famous free speech protests at Berkeley in the ’60s, we have now had several decades of attempts by universities to constrain speech through “speech codes.” The codes are directly aimed at civility, being put in place with the understandable purpose of trying to protect female and minority students from offensive language. But their actual speech impact often goes beyond that, and even that goal can run afoul of the First Amendment (while a public organization has a duty to prevent a hostile workplace, isolated incidents sexist or racist comments do not, as a matter of constitutional law (as it is today) rise to that level).