Civility Linkblogging: Santa, Canada, and the Supermarket

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 seem eclectic, but most focus on an important idea: the transformative potential of domestic spaces and individual behavior. Gina DeLapa’s contribution is exemplary in this respect. Here, she recounts an interaction she had at a grocery store — quiet, and seemingly devoid of larger impact. But her advice is resonant: speak up, she tells us, when you see something that seems wrong, or out of place, or offensive. It may be momentarily uncomfortable, but one awkward conversation can have a real positive effect.

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:

Angels, Men and Government: Bringing Civility Back to the Political Discourse
Posted by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz at The Huffington Post, November 23, 2015

Politicians are not immune from emotional shaming. As the pressure builds, the constant rebuke from all sides may harden them in ways that make them less compassionate and more ideologically narrow. This is the opposite of what, in my view, we need in our leaders. As equally important are the people that elect those into office: we are not immune to the impact upon ourselves and our culture when we engage in diatribes and screeds in lieu of reasoned debate. Each of us in the political ecosystem is profoundly and importantly imperfect. As James Madison wrote all those years ago, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary” (Federalist No. 51). We are flawed; the system is flawed. But that doesn’t mean we should expect perfection of intellect and temperament from our politicians. We are a rapidly changing society, for better or worse, and we hold the power to shape the future of this nation. The quest to make this a “more perfect union” is never-ending. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, let’s cease our petulant attitude towards those running for the highest office in the land and begin pursuing a rational course of action that will have consequence for decades to come.

Lesson in Civility
Posted by Gina DeLapa at Ultimate Reminders, November 30, 2015

Was it easy to speak up? No. But for thirty seconds of discomfort, we did our part to clean up the culture. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, it’s become considerably harsher.

We don’t have to go looking for proof of this. The proof will find us. When it does, whether at home, work, a meeting, or anywhere else, I challenge you to listen to your better instincts, and when the time is right, say something. If I can do it, you can do it.

Santa and Civility
Posted by Dana Carroll at The Springfield News-Leader, December 11, 2015

Forni says, “Self-expression belongs to the natural order of things. We owe it to ourselves to express ourselves, and there is something good and healthful in bringing forward and acting upon our thoughts and feelings. However, this doesn’t mean all we want to express is equally worthy of expression. The unruly, brazen and reckless give self-expression a bad name. Going through life under the sway of unchecked impulses may be self-expression, but irresponsible self-indulgence.”

We have become affected by the skepticism of our time. We tend not to believe what we do not see. Back to the Santa debate — when a child begins to question what is real, try to encourage them to think of others, those that are younger, or from different backgrounds. Perhaps there isn’t one right answer. Just because I don’t believe flying reindeer deliver the jolly old man in the red coat, perhaps I should embrace the spirit that the old man represents — one of joy, giving, kindness, and just a dash of tolerance. And again the question, “Do you have to be wrong, in order for me to be right?”

A Very Canadian Civility
Posted by Adam de Pencier at The National Post, December 17, 2015

The recent federal election saw a renewed interest in civility, which is sometimes thought of as purely good manners but goes much deeper. On election night, Justin Trudeau referred to Laurier’s 1895 “Sunny Ways” speech, which itself can be traced back to the 6th-century B.C. fabulist Aesop. The story goes that the disputatious Sun and Wind were having it out as to who was more powerful. A passerby wrapped in a cloak was to be the test. The howling wind tries to blow off the garment, only to have the man cling all the more to it; by contrast, the gentle sun shines his warm, dulcet rays which (of course) have the effect of making the fellow disrobe.

While the PM-elect cleverly recalled this story, especially within the context of Canadian history and his party’s greatest leader, “Sunny Ways” have been with us in Canada since 2010, when Johnston was appointed. His cheerful disposition — look no further than the swearing in of the Liberal cabinet where no one was enjoying themselves more than the Governor General — and sterling reputation for working in any co-operative venture have made him a winsome choice by former prime minister Stephen Harper.

A Plea for Civility
Posted by Craig Vanslyke at The Flagstaff Business News, December 18, 2015

To me, it seems that three factors contribute to incivility. The first is a lack of humility. At its core, civility requires humility; it requires an acknowledgment that we’re not at the center of the universe. This humility gives us the realization that we need to behave in ways that recognize others and their feelings. This leads us to our second factor. Civility, especially civil discourse, requires us to not only acknowledge that others are important, it also requires acknowledging that we may be wrong. One of the things that makes a controversial topic controversial is that the answer or solution isn’t obvious. The correct path is unclear. Pick any of the many difficult challenges facing our society. Regardless of the issue, I don’t know the answer, and neither do you. You may think you know, but you don’t. You may believe in an approach, but you don’t really know if it will work. Sure, we can and should apply evidence and reason, but at the end of the day, there are too many unknowns to really know the answers. (By the way, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t advocate for certain positions or solutions. It just means that we should listen to contrary views, as I noted in an earlier column.) Finally, incivility comes from cluelessness. Sometimes we’re simply unaware of how we appear to others. We just don’t think about how we come off to other people. Most of the people I’ve unfollowed are nice people. They aren’t trying to be uncivil, they just seem a bit clueless about how they may be perceived.

Civility Linkblogging: The (Mostly) Canada Edition

Linkblogging
By Anita Pratanti, via flickr

This post is part of an ongoing series that highlights discourse about civility online. We glean the articles for civility linkblogging from a broad cross-section of blogs, newspapers, and magazines, from the United States and abroad.

This week, our linkblogging segment focuses primarily on Canada: on Rob Ford’s ongoing stewardship of Toronto; on increased polarization in the national legislature; on the poor influence — the polarizing influence — of political culture imported from the United States; and on one grade six class that has had just about enough of name-calling, and will no longer visit Alberta’s provincial legislature meetings.

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:

Polly: A Time When Political Civility Was Rule, Not Exception
Posted at The Eastern Arizona Courier, March 12, 2014

Polly believed that what she did as a legislator was important, but she never considered herself important. Her important work is not forgotten. In fact, an annual Polly Rosenbaum Dinner is being held every year in Clifton to honor her dedication on behalf of Greenlee County. The 6th annual event honoring her is Thursday, March 20, at Tyler’s Taste of Texas in Clifton.

It is being sponsored by the Greenlee Democrats – and while Polly was a lifelong Democrat – anybody is welcome to the dinner, regardless of political affiliation. Polly would have liked it that way.

A Lesson in Online Civility
Posted at The Calgary Herald, March 12, 2014

Coun. Sean Chu may be a newcomer to city hall, but he’s getting a quick education on the etiquette of social media.

Tuesday, Chu questioned the accuracy of city staff’s cycling counts along the new 7th Street S.W. bike lane. Fair enough, but the Ward 4 politician went further, appearing to attack city staff who are unable to respond to such criticism publicly. …

He has issued an apology, but still faces the prospect of being censured under council’s ethical conduct policy.

Tory MP On Cusp of Retirement Laments Decline of Commons Civility
Posted by Jennifer Ditchburn at The Ottowa Star, March 14, 2014

Hawn doesn’t lay the blame for the lack of civility on any particular party, or expect any particular leader to produce a solution.

“I think it does come down to individuals thinking about what they’re doing and saying every day and just the simple things. People fire a shot, a nasty shot, instead of just saying, ‘Well you know what, maybe they’ve got some good ideas’,” said Hawn.

“I’ve always said, the opposition aren’t stupid people, we’re all here for the same reason, they all came to Ottawa to make a positive difference and we all want to get essentially to the same destination … we argue about the road we’re on to get there.”

Political Trash-Talking is Nothing New, but It’s Getting Worse
Posted by Wendy Gillis at TheStar.com, March 15, 2014

Are our democratic institutions imploding, or is heated debate just an inevitable part of the system, serving as evidence of a healthy diversity of representation?

Researchers interviewed by the Star agree there has a recent downward spiral in the conduct of our politicians and civility in office, both on a local scale and in other levels of government.

Gary Levy, a political scientist at Carleton University, says it’s hard to pinpoint what prompted it — a spike in tumultuous minority governments, maybe the polarizing influence of the U.S. — but agrees politicians’ behaviour has seen a change for the worse.

“I just get the feeling that there’s no longer the concept of fair is fair, and do unto others — golden rule type of thing. It’s rather ‘the end justifies the means,’ and ‘we’ll do anything to stay in power.’”

Legislature Could Use Some Civility
Posted at The Lethbridge Herald, March 19, 2014

Premier Alison Redford and Opposition leader Danielle Smith have sparred on numerous occasions and the battle between the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Alliance is primed to heat up even further.

Those disagreements have been widely publicized, and often fuelled by combatants through social media, as the race to form this province’s next government has caused a never-ending cycle of mudslinging.

For members of the media, and citizens deeply involved in politics, much of this comes as no surprise. However, the issue received much more attention last week when a Grade 6 class in Innisfail informed the Legislature students would no longer attend question period.

Repeated displays of rudeness, name calling and offensive language were cited as just some of the reasons the class felt the need to speak out, as the childish behaviour witnessed was simply too much for the youngsters to tolerate.

Civility Linkblogging: Canada, Cuba, Buddhism, and Civility In America

Linkblogging
By Anita Pratanti, via flickr

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 posts highlight online reactions to Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate’s 2013 study, Civility in America. Conducted in conjunction with KRC Research, it gauges the American public’s attitudes toward civility and self-reported experiences with incivility in a variety of areas of American society and daily life. It measures something of the sentiment among Americans that we suffer from a civility problem, and that it is likely to get worse.

A detailed summary of the study’s findings may be found here [PDF].

Meanwhile, 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, on to the list:

Buddhists Eye a More Civil Society, Not ‘Cannibalism’
Posted by Ven. Ocean-of-Wisdom Sakya at newstimes.com, August 2, 2013

In my tradition we try to be conscientious not only of our own behavior but to encourage others to be socially conscious. It is a reciprocal relationship in which each member helps the other become better.

In secular terms I suppose we are speaking about civility, which is the opposite of cannibalism.

However, recently it seems to me the cannibals are gaining ground.

Local Councils Are Not Fiefdoms
Posted by Dermod Travis at The Castlegar Source, August 5, 2013

In his new book, The Importance of Being Civil: The Struggle for Political Decency, McGill University professor John A. Hall explains that civility is the glue that holds society together.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Hall went on to explain that: “Talking is crucial because, if you talk, you make people more reasonable. Civility on the part of government is absolutely vital.”

Hall’s book should be required reading for local councils and every candidate before next year’s local elections.

7 in 10 Americans Believe Incivility Has Hit Crisis Levels
Posted at ETN Global Travel Industry News, August 6, 2013

Civility in America continues to disintegrate and rude behavior is becoming the “new normal,” according to a new national survey. Reports of personal infringements are on the rise, driving 70 percent of Americans to believe that incivility has reached crisis proportions. With Americans encountering incivility more than twice a day, on average, and 43 percent expecting to experience incivility in the next 24 hours, dealing with incivility has become a way of life for many.

Civility in America – Getting from Problems to Solutions
Posted at The Mom Pledge Blog, August 7, 2013

I recently shared a few alarming results from the 2013 Civility In America Study and detailed an example of a missed opportunity to make a difference. Today, I want to delve deeper into what the research shows.

It’s not shocking, to me anyway. I have long been aware we have a pervasive culture of incivility in America. This latest study reveals how widespread the problem is. Incivility has essentially become a way of life in America.

Raul Castro’s Empty Talk on Civility in Cuba
Posted at The Washington Post, August 12, 2013

The kind of civility that is recognized all over the world as basic dignity — the freedom to speak and associate, to choose one’s leaders, to live without fearing a regime’s security services — is not on Mr. Castro’s mind. His regime continues to threaten and persecute those who dare challenge its legitimacy.

Civility Linkblogging: Turkey, Canada, and The Internet

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, in part, follow a thread of discourse that has been developing since the beginning of July about civility, and civil discussion, on the Internet. They include an overview of research on how we might increase civility in comment threads. And they include a debate that is currently unfolding at The Toronto Star newspaper about whether allowing anonymous commenting is appropriate, given that it may encourage poor behavior.

The week’s links also include a discussion of some of the civility lessons that can be gleaned from the civic strife in Turkey, a conservative perspective on intemperate language in the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in the DOMA case, and a discussion that draws heavily on the work of sociologist and folklorist Gary Alan Fine about the causes of incivility in children and teenagers.

Do you have a link that you think would be right for this segment? 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:

Readers Ask Why the Star Allows Anonymous Online Comments
Posted by Kathy English at The Toronto Star, July 5, 2013

While the Star’s digital team has put considerable and commendable effort into creating a “Community Code of Conduct” that spells out in clear terms this news organization’s expectations that commenters who want to have their say within the Star remain civil, Ferri well understands the concerns of those who believe that anonymity contributes to the incivility we abhor.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that requiring real names would reduce trolling,” he said.

There is also little doubt that requiring real names on comments would discourage some from commenting within the Star.

How Can Communication Technology Encourage Civility?
Posted by Derek Powazek at Big Questions Online, July 9, 2013

In this essay I will focus on exploring why we behave as we do online, and suggest some solutions for increasing civility. I’ll try to use as much social science as is possible. As this is a new area of research, some of the studies I reference are from other areas, but their results are apt. My central argument is that good people can behave poorly in online situations, but civil behavior can be encouraged by design.

Civility: It’s the Glue That Holds Society Together
Posted by Chris Hannay at The Globe and Mail, July 12, 2013

What is civility on a grand scale?

Civility is that moment when two groups who have been fighting for a very long time reach a stalemate, so they decide to agree to stop trying to kill each other and live with each other. To allow a certain measurement of disagreement. More than anything, it’s the idea of toleration.

Root Out Rude Behavior by Setting Example for Children
Posted by Bill Stanczykiewicz at The Salem Leader, July 15, 2013

Instead of celebrities or civic leaders, authoritative communities depend on parents, extended family, neighbors and community members. These caring adults exemplify and set clear rules and expectations, celebrate when these standards are met and immediately offer clear, even-tempered correction when they are not.

The best communication occurs when adults model the civil behavior they want young people to emulate, and members of the authoritative community realize that child development takes a long time.

Time For Internet to Grow Up
Posted by Nina Munteanu at The Toronto Star, July 6, 2013

Now it’s time for the Internet to grow up. To be sure, this boiling pot of largely unrestrained creativity has generated a vibrant revolution of free expression. The Internet culture currently flourishes with unique creativity and freedom within a chaotic sea of possibility. As an ecologist and follower of complexity theory, I see this as a good thing. But I also see the need for natural succession to occur.

How the Star and other media organizations treat this step in our online evolution may help shape the very freedom that Internet society so values. How we treat anonymity is the key.

Civility Must Start at The Top
Posted by David Nammo at The Washington Times, July 16, 2013

This is not to argue the legal merits of the DOMA. It is, however, voicing a word of warning about using the type of rhetoric the Windsor majority did. In both the short and the long run, it will serve no one’s legitimate purposes to demonize those holding opposing views or to declare those views on marriage “off limits” to debate. It is possible — indeed, essential — for those who support same-sex marriage to respect those who support traditional marriage, and vice versa. Vilifying opponents does not further the “evolution of equality.” Rather, it erodes that evolution and our civil society along with it.