Civility Linkblogging: Marriage Equality, Street Harassment, and Anger Management

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.

Notable among this week’s articles is one eloquent call for civility in debates over marriage equality, and a creative response by three Philadelphia women to the problem of harassment on the street and elsewhere. In the former, Indianapolis Star columnist Erika Smith reminds us that that not everyone who opposes same-sex marriage is a religious zealot. And not everyone who supports same-sex marriage is a rainbow-clad heathen. While in the latter, Rochelle Keyhan, Erin Filson, and Anna Kegler explain the impetus and impact of their groups, Hollaback Philly and Geeks for CONsent.

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:

Being Agreeable Is an Essential Trait
Posted by Orlaine I. Gabert at Greenbaypressgazette.com, August 12, 2014

Probably there are a good number of issues, concerns, likes, activities that are passionate for the person speaking, but are of little importance to you. In those instances you can listen attentively and thank the person for sharing.

Other times you are affected or passionate about the subject. After you have listened, you share your views respectfully without demeaning the person or their ideas. It may be possible to find some consensus, or you can both respect that each of you have a different view.

Why So Mad? Civility Experts Weigh In
Posted by Jennifer Brett at AccessAtlanta.com, August 15, 2014

“So much of our interaction takes place digitally now. When people don’t handle conflict well, they will often hide behind email. It’s so much easier to say mean things when you’re no longer looking someone in the eye.”

Eye-to-eye can be a more effective forum for reaching compromise than screen-to-screen, she said.

“Try to see the situation through the eyes of the other person,” she advised. “Realize they’re being mean and angry because they’re trying to protect something. There’s a reason they’re being so emotional. Have empathy that the person feels threatened.”

Flunking the Rules of Civility
Posted by Katie Coombs at the Reno Gazette-Journal, August 20, 2014

In the past 20 years, the emphasis in the schools, and now at home, has been on self-esteem and self-worth, and the value of learning to focus on others has slipped away. Teachers and parents alike are tip-toeing around kids and their unruly behaviors so that they don’t feel shamed by manners and discipline. Is it working? If we look around, we see spoiled disrespectful brats in most restaurants, schools and on athletic teams. These kids wouldn’t lift a finger to help their parents without arguing about it first or proclaiming how unfair it is to have to help support the daily grind of operating a house. Parents are exhausted and overwhelmed by these children and know they have created monsters, but don’t know what to do. If that is your household, then I would suggest establishing the rules of civility in your home.

Let’s Practice Civility in Debate over Same-Sex Marriage
Posted by Erika D. Smith at IndyStar.com, August 26, 2014

I’m asking you to remember that not everyone who opposes same-sex marriage is a religious zealot. And not everyone who supports same-sex marriage is a rainbow-clad heathen.

There are people in the middle. In fact, a lot of people are in the middle on this issue. People who don’t know what to think. The problem is we can’t hear them over the roar of rhetoric.

So I’m asking for civility — maybe even open-mindedness.

Three Philly Women Seek Civility on the Street and Equality in the World of Geekdom
Posted by Howard Gensler at Philly.com, August 28, 2014

On the street, the women say, one never knows when a simple catcall might lead to violence, or when relentless harassment could turn what might have been meant as an innocent remark into the final straw of aggravation.

For many women, walking around in public can be a nonstop series of lip smacks, ass pinches, vile come-ons and more.

“For some guys it’s just a catcall,” Keyhan said. “But they don’t realize that the catcall is just a prelude to all the other awful things that can happen in a public space. . . . If all it was was just, ‘Hey sexy, hey baby,’ I would not spend all my free time on this. But when you never know what’s going to come next, that’s the problem.”

Civility Linkblogging: Pakistan, Mississippi, Twitter, and More

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, the thing to notice in our list is less the specifics of the articles themselves than the scope of topics and geographies that defines them as a group. We have calls for civility in the civic culture of Pakistan and in the local politics of Massachusetts. We have incivility on Twitter and in one newspaper’s letters to the editor. We have horse racing, the legal profession, and the ongoing disputed primary between incumbent Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel for the Republican Senate nomination in the state of Mississippi.

The scope, this week, is especially broad.

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:

A Call for Civility a Matter of Common Sense
Posted at The Andover Townsman Online, June 26, 2014

Lyman, who spent more than 20 years in public service starting in 1992 on the School Committee followed by a dozen or so years as selectwoman, said the tone of civic dialogue had grown too contentious for her to bear.

Indeed, it was one of the reasons she had chosen not to seek a fifth term as selectwoman.

In Search of Civility
Posted by Rehan Ul Haque at http://rehanhaque2020.wordpress.com, June 29, 2014

After having spent a year out of Pakistan, and having experienced the plain civility of the people in Canada, I find some of the following quite troublesome here in the Pak Land….

How much effort does it take to just say Thank You? If you are servicing a customer in a shop or any other commercial establishment, Thank You makes a huge difference.

Political Civility 101
Posted at QCOnline.com, July 2, 2014

We remain eager to share as many of your views as possible. But we cannot allow Viewpoints to become a space to launch ad hominem attacks, or make false or unprovable claims.

It’s tough to come up with a specific list of things which will move a letter to the rejection pile. So we must rely on our ability to “know it when we see it.” We suspect that, if most writers looked at their letters with a cold, critical eye before they hit the send key, they’d see it, too.

Civility is always a winner
Posted by Edward C. Poll at The Daily Record, July 3, 2014

Recently, California has acknowledged that fact with a new rule. On May 1, 2014, the California Supreme Court adopted Rule 9.4 of the California Rules of Court. The rule modified the lawyer’s oath of office. The oath taken by every lawyer when being admitted to legal practice in California still begins, “I solemnly swear (or affirm). …” However, that oath now ends with newly added language: “As an officer of the court, I will strive to conduct myself at all times with dignity, courtesy, and integrity.”

A #@% Here, a B*l*e*e*p There, Civility’s Scarce on the Internet
Posted by Hembree Brandon at Delta Farm Press, July 14, 2014

The election night Twitter feed was, alas, a microcosm of the proliferation of incivility and decline of manners/respect that have occurred as the Internet has become a part of everyday life. The anonymity of screen names and the almost complete absence of monitoring of posts on websites and social media venues have spawned a Wild West, anything-goes arena in which people can write anything — however derogatory or vile — with no consequences.

Often as not, posts have nothing to do with the website’s topic or interest. Whether a financial website, medical, automotive, you-name-it, the posts are laced with vulgarities and crude insults directed at other posters.

Civility Linkblogging: Campaigning, Gossip, and Respect

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.

Of note this week is an article about New York Times columnist David Brooks, and his recent remarks to MATRIX:MIDLAND, an event in Midland, Michigan. There, he called civility a moral issue. We live he said, too much in a culture that affirms external virtues; good grades, financial success, fame. And as a result, we undervalue intangible qualities like strength of character that are necessary to lead, or govern, or discourse civilly with one another.

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:

Columnist Brooks: Too Much Emphasis on External Values Stunts Civility
Posted by Cathy Nelson Price at Midland Daily News, June 4, 2014

“Civility is a moral issue,” Brooks said. “More of us think about our external, our resumé virtues than our internal or eulogy virtues, the things we want said about us when we die. We live in a culture that affirms external virtues; good grades, financial success, fame.”

Buying into that set of values thwarts not only civility, but stunts the character needed to lead or govern, a pattern that’s currently playing out in Washington, where Brooks is one of the inner circle of respected political analysts.

Principles of Civility: Don’t Be a Gossip
Posted by Orlaine I. Gabert at greenbaypressgazette.com, June 10, 2014

The first three tools of the Door County Civility Project which were pay attention, listen, and be inclusive, asked that you take positive verbal steps in your communications. The fourth tool asks that you not do something: Don’t Gossip.

A Call for Civility by Candidates and Supporters
Posted at YakimaHerald.com, June 12, 2014

We can recount too many instances in which blind hyperpartisanship has put a wrench into the works of governance, both in our nation’s capital and in our state capital. Candidates and their supporters can decry the negative tone all they want, but they make a much stronger case if they practice that preaching themselves. It worked for Sam Reed; more importantly, it works for the citizenry and for our representative democracy.

Agreeing to Disagree – Mason Square Library In Springfield
Posted by Paul Tuthill at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, June 16, 2014

What has happened to civility in our country? Conversations with people at the Mason Square Library in Springfield, Massachusetts reveal displeasure over how we interact with one another today and uncertainty over whether we can become more civil in the future.

Over time, it seems the face-to-face has become in-your-face.

Mattie Jenkins says when she was growing up more than a half-century ago people were more respectful and kind.

Everyone Benefits from Some Civility
Posted by Greg Hill at newsminer.com, June 16, 2014

I attended a presentation by one of the founders at UAF last month and learned that the Village Square organization describes itself as “a nervy bunch of conservatives and liberals who believe that disagreement and dialogue make for a good conversation, a good country, and a good time.”

That last aspect is crucial, for the Village Square approach encourages leading proponents of both sides of local issues to speak to their concerns before a mixed group of citizens reflecting differing perspectives, and who are sharing a meal.

Civility Linkblogging: Classroom, Internet, and Transit

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 focuses on what we might call small civilities — etiquette on trains and in parking lots, civility in online gaming communities and student evaluations. But as these articles all make clear, small civilities add up. Teaching evaluations in college classrooms may mean a venue to vent for disappointed students, but for instructors, they are a measure of continued employment. Crowded trains may seem like mere inconvenience, but as Dr. P. M. Forni says, in a close-quartered bus or train, you have in action two of the main incivility-causing factors. These are anonymity and stress. And in combination, they can escalate into 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:

Want to Save Civility in Gaming Culture? Confront the Bullies.
Posted by Lisa Granshaw at The Daily Dot, May 12, 2014

Tito thinks engaging with these commenters is important and that just ignoring them doesn’t solve anything. Giant Bomb news editor Patrick Klepek, who spoke on another panel on the topic called “Why Internet jerks aren’t going to win, and you can help,” agreed.

“I don’t really subscribe to the idea of ignoring the trolls and they’ll go away, because—pro tip—they don’t…” he said. “We need to talk about this because we need to make sure people know what’s happening.”

Klepek points out harassment isn’t exclusive to game culture. It’s more of an Internet problem. He finds that instead of a passionate debate of opinions in his comments sections, there will be a small but vocal group that shouts and bullies.

Parking Lot Civility
Posted by Annabel Monaghan at annabelmonaghan.com, May 15, 2014

In the YMCA parking lot I was wholly focused on my own interests. I’m going to miss my meeting. I’m going to miss my shower. I’m really sweating here. How could this woman do this to ME? Since I was already so involved with myself, I decided to look a little closer. Yes, I too sometimes do thoughtless things that inconvenience others. I sometimes forget to signal or don’t notice that the light has changed. I sometimes stop my car in the middle of the street to chat with a friend and fail to notice the cars lined up behind me. There’s more, but you get the idea.

It was a humbling exercise, and by the time I finished my self-examination I was feeling pretty darn civil. If I can figure out how to make this a habit, then maybe I can keep it together the next time someone parks so close to me that I have to crawl through my trunk to get into my car. Because, guess what, I sometimes park like an idiot too.

ADL Head Warns of Bullies in the Internet Age
Posted by Eve Sullivan at the Stamford Advocate, May 20, 2014

Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he was recently asked to give a college commencement speech, but then one student protested and said he would be a disruption to the graduation.

However, Foxman went “because this was freedom of speech used to bully and intimidate,” he said.

After the speech, Foxman said he publicly embraced the student who asked him not to come. He said the student later sent him an email saying he couldn’t believe the embrace happened, and that it was a lesson in civility.

Foxman said having a true democracy in society has always been a challenge, but he said he wonders whether people are now facing something more subversive.

Commuters Get Squished, Etiquette Gets Squashed
Posted by Samantha Melamed at Philly.com, May 22, 2014

Nationwide, transit ridership is up 37.2 percent since 1995. On SEPTA Regional Rail, ridership grew by 50 percent in the last 15 years.

But it’s a recipe for rudeness, said P.M. Forni, founder of the Civility Project at Johns Hopkins University.

Incivility is an age-old problem, he said. “But in a close-quartered bus or train, you have in action two of the main incivility-causing factors. These are anonymity and stress.”

In other words, it feels OK to be a jerk on the bus, because you’re harried and no one knows you.

But, Forni warned, “Incivility often escalates into violence, and that’s one reason we need to take it seriously.”

Writing a Student Evaluation Can Be Like Trolling the Internet
Posted by Heidi Tworek at The Atlantic, May 21, 2014

Clearly, some students don’t take these assessments seriously, which is particularly problematic for non-tenure track faculty—teaching evaluations have become the singular metric for hiring adjuncts. Predictably, this has encouraged these educators to pander to students and acquiesce to grade grubbers.

But these issues aren’t unique to student evaluations. Course assessments look a lot like public discourse on the Internet, from product evaluations to discussion boards to comments sections on news sites. For some—the comment champions—this shift of power toward everyday users is emancipatory, offering spaces to share thoughts and shape how other people think and view products. For others—the comment curmudgeons—the often-derisive culture of online commenting eliminates chances for civil debate and intellectual integrity.

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?

Civility Linkblogging: City Government and Bangladesh

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, we delve into civic politics from Tallahasse, Florida, to Buffalo, New York, to Columbia, South Carolina, noting especially a thoughtful piece by Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin, who begins with the story of an old man’s words to his grandson:

“There is a battle raging inside of me, a terrible fight between two wolves.

“One is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

“The other is good,” he continued. “He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

“There is a battle raging inside of me. It rages inside of everyone in our village, inside every person since time began, and it rages inside of you.”

Frightened, the boy asked, “But, Grandfather, which wolf will win?”

The old man reached out with weathered arms embracing his grandson to comfort him and, holding him close, answered: “Whichever one you feed, child. Whichever one you feed.”

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, onto the links:

From The Left: There Is A Place For Civility In Politics
Posted by GameND at SayAnythingBlog.com, March 20, 2014

When I speak of civility, I don’t mean that politics should not be a full contact activity. I really believe that there is a time and a place for aggressive and even negative campaigning. When you put your name on a ballot, you open your life up to public scrutiny.

However, there is a fine line between attacking a candidate’s position or their qualifications and attacking the candidate as a person and/or attacking their family.

Benjamin: Let Us Choose Civility
Posted by Steve Benjamin at TheState.com, March 25, 2014

It’s not about Bull Street or baseball or even Columbia. It’s bigger than that. It’s the name calling and wild accusations, the victory-at-all-costs attitude on display across our nation from school boards to state legislatures, city councils to Congress. It’s a bitter pill for anyone to swallow, and it’s making all of us petty and mean.

The answer is civility — rules not of courtesy or etiquette but rather of citizenship: making the commitment to respect each other as citizens if not as individuals and putting the common good before our personal ambitions. It’s about recognizing that whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together, and building our collective future is more important than winning an argument.

Collapse of Civility in Bangladeshi Politics
Posted by Quamrul Haider at The Daily Star, March 27, 2014

Even in the rough-and-tumble world of political rivalry, there are limits to how uncivil politicians should be. Unfortunately, Bangladeshi politicians have crossed all boundaries of decency. Incivility reached its lowest ebb when threat of physical harm was issued by an influential lawmaker of the ruling party.

Politics is an art of compromise, not a show of incivility. And civility in politics is the art of tolerating dissent and reconciling differences amicably. Civility requires a willingness to consider respectfully the views of others and try to make compromise. However, compromise does not necessarily imply total agreement. It means putting personal animosity aside, placing the country ahead of the party and discussing the real issues with an open mind.

Conduct City Business with Order and Civility
Posted by Mike Sittig at Tallahassee.com, March 27, 2014

For too long, the discussion of important public issues has often resembled a free-for-all hosted by World Wrestling Entertainment instead of a dialogue to benefit the taxpayers of our communities.

It’s time someone took a positive step forward to improve our discourse, prevent the hijacking of meetings to promote personal vendettas and ensure that our leaders are tackling the public business in front of them.

Conference Explores Civility and Compromise
Posted by Deidre Williams at The Buffalo News, March 28, 2014

In a serious tone, [Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster] said the key to compromise is not to abandon moral principles and to recognize you are not always going to convince everyone you are right, he said, adding that everyone should separate people’s political views and ideology and “see the person.”

Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen said the two must go hand in hand.

“If we have compromise without civility, we make decisions that do not include others,” he said. “And that’s how you end up with classism and racism.”

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: Small Towns, LDS, and the Internet

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 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 editor@instituteforcivility.org. 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.

Civility Linkblogging: Maine, Palestine, and Conservative Publications

Linkblogging
By Anita Pratanti, via flickr

Welcome to the first edition of Civility Linkblogging of 2014.

Civility Linkblogging is an ongoing segment in which we search out news and discussion from around the web that highlights issues surrounding civil discourse, or that considers principles of civility. We gather 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 abroad.

This week’s segment covers the very busy month of December, which saw several developments related to education: new rules instituted by the Indiana State School Board to curb incivility in meetings, and a serious discussion of cyber-bullying — both directed at middle- and high-school students, and directed toward school officials — in Michigan and Maryland.

Here, however, we are covering the inaugural event of Choose Civility Portland, an organization devoted to enacting respectful dialogue in Maine. We are covering approaches to civilizing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — as it plays out among students at San Francisco State University. And we are covering two very different calls for civility from two conservative news sources: The Washington Times and The American Conservative.

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:

Portland Campaign Promotes Civility, Tolerance in Public Discourse
Posted by William Hall at The Forecaster, December 3, 2013

Civility means manners, but Choose Civility is not just about etiquette lessons.

“To maintain a level of openness and inclusion in our community, we have to have some level of civility,” said Kimberly Simmons, the library’s Choose Civility coordinator. Civility calls for respecting others and their opinions, she explained, even if they’re unpopular.

A Call for Civility in Leadership
Posted by Jennifer Olney at SteamFeed, December 3, 2013

We forget that long before “civility” became a buzzword, leaders built genuine relationships in work life. The organization in the past was based relationship-centered, mission-focused, and valued based. Good manners were common, not uncommon. Civility was not something that had to be mandated rather it was the norm. Organizations didn’t have to have training in civility, rather, it was a given. Our society has changed and our organizations and leaders are now having to be retrained in civility.

To Counter Courseness, Choose Civility
Posted by Ben S. Carson at The Washington Times, December 17, 2013

Civility and honesty are highly desirable traits, which should be imparted to our children both through example and planned lessons. This teaching should begin in the home, but certainly teachers, school administrators and other responsible adults should take every opportunity to facilitate the learning process. On the other hand, we must not fall into the trap of being so concerned about innocent words and deeds that we destroy people while worshipping ill-conceived rules of speech and behavior.

SFSU Student’s Call for Civility Starts With ‘I Feel Your Pain’
Posted by Ryan Ariel Simon at JWeekly.com, December 19, 2013

At the heart of this issue, and the pain of my community, is the inability and refusal to recognize or understand the pain of the other. This is a symptom, I believe, of the larger issue of the lack of empathy in the Israel-Palestine debate in general.

It is what scholar Herbert C. Kelman calls “the interdependence of Israeli and Palestinian national identities”: One group sees the recognition of the pain of “the other” as negating its own pain, its narrative.

How Snark & Smarm Fall Short
Posted by Gracy Olmstead at The American Conservative, December 21, 2013

Smarm is bad. But the way in which we gleefully suck up snark’s sneering jabs is equally detrimental to society. Public discourse, in both cases, is more concerned with personal loftiness than truly elevating the needs and concerns of the public. Truth, one would hope, could offer us a different course: one in which “civility” is not saccharine, and “truth” is not nasty—a discourse in which mercy and truth can meet together.