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: 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.