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Civility Linkblogging: Small Towns, LDS, and the Internet

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 linkblogging segment is anchored by two articles about small towns — one extolling the value of civility for economic development, and the other lamenting its absence, suggesting that municipal politics can be seen as a microcosm of the nation. Willie Weatherford, outgoing mayor of Manteca, California, tells his local newspaper that an increase in civil dialogue has been the greatest accomplishment of his tenure in office. While Telly Halkias, writing in Portland, Maine, regrets the ease with which New Englanders become part of the problem.

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 [email protected]. Include the title, url, and a short summary, and we will gladly review it for publication.

Now on to the list:

Mayor: Civility Brought Good Things
Posted by Dennis Wyatt at The Manteca Bulletin, January 2, 2014

Willie Weatherford is in his final year as mayor. … Looking back, he sees the establishment of civility and business-like council meetings as elected leaders’ biggest achievement over the past 11 years.

“With have learned to disagree and still get along,” Weatherford said. “Council meetings are designed to take care of the city’s business and we are doing that.”

Because there is decorum and a business-like approach to city matters at the council level Weatherford believes the city has been able to do what it has done while many other communities struggled.

Keep On Tweeting, There’s No Techno-Fix For Incivility Or Injustice
Posted by Even Selinger at Forbes, January 2, 2014

As a philosophy professor who regularly assigns students complex texts that take patience to read and that require consideration of provocative views (sometimes quite unlike their own!), you might think I’d endorse this recipe for civility: mix time with depth and considered argumentation and out comes charitable interpretations and proportionate proposals. But while thoughtful reading most certainty can lead to thoughtful behavior, that’s not the end of the story. By themselves, books aren’t a magic technology that can transform impatient character and tame the passions through regular consumption. Like the mistaken conviction that “to know the good is to do the good,” equating literary fiber with a moral diet is a rationalist fantasy.

Political Civility: Not Even in Small Towns
Posted by Telly Halkias in The Portland Daily Sun, January 2, 2014

Ten years later and hopefully a sliver wiser, I’m disappointed that as a group we didn’t keep our cool. I’d even go so far as feeling embarrassed when looking back at some of the crowd behavior that night.

This wasn’t an earth-shattering coast-to-coast forum with partisan tempers raging. Yet one can appreciate today’s large-scale social rancor by seeing how easily a few dozen folks in rural New England turned into a rabble.

First Amendment: Let’s Try That Free Speech Option Called Civility in 2014 in Public Life
Posted by Gene Policinski at GazetteXtra on January 2, 2014

Our nation’s Founders were no strangers to rude, callous and raucous debate in public life and to vicious commentary, even by today’s “anything goes” online standards. Sex scandals, infidelity, personal weaknesses and even religious differences were exposed, debated and mocked in public life and in the newspapers of the day with personal glee and political purpose.

The self-governing system eventually created for the United States depends on vigorous public involvement and debate, but it also depends on a measure of what we call today “civility” to function. Not civility in the sense of polite nods and watered-down language—that’s not “free speech” in any sense—but rather a thinking response and respect for robust debate over ideas and policies.

Church Instructs Leaders on Same-Sex Marriage
Posted at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Newsroom, January 10, 2014

While these matters will continue to evolve, we affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same-sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility—even when we disagree.

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