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 [email protected]. 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, 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: Australia, Akron, Campus, and Syria

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 roundup features an article about ordinary citizens in Ohio who are standing up to call for civility, from voters and from candidates alike, in the upcoming round of campaigns and elections. It includes an article about attitudes toward immigration reform and race in Australia. And it includes a discussion — transcribed and in podcast form — in which former U.S. Representative Jim Leach talks about the civility crisis in Washington, D.C., and offers some first steps toward dismantling that culture of acrimony.

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:

Watch Your Manners: Why Living Racism-Free is a Basic Human Right
Posted by Gillian Triggs at The Conversation, September 4, 2013

Civility is both a complex and simple idea. Most of us were brought up to respect others so, on that level, it is relatively straightforward.

Yet our society is replete with examples of behaviour that lacks basic civility, especially the racism and xenophobia that currently infuses the refugee debate. In a diverse society such as Australia, it is deeply worrying that we continue to mistreat people because of where they come from, their skin colour, gender, age, sexual preference or because they live with a disability.

Leach Lectures on the Lost Art of Civility
Posted at The Muscatine Journal, September 6, 2013

If we want to make our politics more civil, we ought to be more careful about the words we choose, former U.S. Representative Jim Leach said. President Obama is called a fascist and a communist, “sometimes at the same time by the same people.” When people openly talk about seceding from the United States, “I consider that a particularly serious word. These are words that have warring implications.”

For centuries, apparently, the media have played a role making the nation’s discourse less civil. In 1800, Leach said, Thomas Jefferson hired a journalist to call his rival for president, John Adams, a hermaphrodite. “Things were pretty divisive, even then,” Leach said.

Civility Projects to Influence Politics Launched by Akron-Area Groups
Posted by Dave Scott at, September 10, 2013

If you cringe at the thought of another political season, with all of its ugly barbs, you might be comforted to know that three community groups and some politicians are working for civility.

A former college professor has formed Civility Dynamics and will present three “intellectual consciousness-raising” workshops at a local library beginning tonight.

A Bath Township man has started Better Outcomes Political Forums to bring the disciplines of a trained mediator to political debates.

A Wadsworth group continues to discuss current events on public-access television while waiting for tax-exempt status to fund its civility promotions.

Civility Week Unified Students
Posted by Natalie Michelle Rankin at, September 12, 2013

Wednesday will officially kick off Civility Week at Florida State University. Florida State is dedicating the week of Sep. 11 to Sep. 17 to civility and respecting the values of the diversity Seminoles represent.

The weeklong event comes in the wake of controversial comments made by FSU student Mandy Thurston on her Vine account, though it is not directly related to Thurston’s post.

The Syria Debate and a Case for Humility and Civility
Posted by Marv Knox at The Baptist Standard, September 13, 2013

Many friends and I disagree on significant issues of politics and public policy. We talk over meals, occasionally in church, sometimes in cars. Often, we express our opinions passionately. But we never vilify or denigrate each other. And we always know the bonds of our friendship are far stronger—and more important—than the disagreements of our ideology. We disagree, but we part as friends.

What if America were like that? What if we learned to talk civilly? What if we agreed to argue the issues but not attack each other? What if we opened our minds as well as our hearts, relinquishing a tight grip on our arguments in order to learn from each other? We might not agree, but we could appreciate and respect one another.

Civility Linkblogging: Minnesota, Tennessee, Australia, and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe

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 include two calls for civility from the state of Tennessee, a call for humility — not civility — from Minnesota, a conservative perspective on civility and civic engagement, and a discussion of the civility situation in Australian politics, and the creeping allure of political polarization.

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

A Call for Convicted Civility
Posted by Terry Paulson at, June 17, 2013

One of the reasons people do not engage in political dialogue is not just the lack of information; they’re turned off by the negative intensity of what passes as political talk in today’s coarse cultural landscape. Talk shows thrive on conflict; the greater the conflict, the more people listen. It’s the motivated and involved that write the reactions to the columns you read, but they often do so quickly without taking time to soften their choice of words or better formulate their criticism.

The Silence of the Moderates
Posted by Julia Baird of The Sydney Morning Herald, June 22, 2013

Leaders of all parties must tolerate climates in which party members can question them. This is especially true for an opposition after a decisive election result. Political scientists say moderate members generally do better in marginal electorates. This means strong defeat is more likely to push an opposition party further left or right as members from safe seats are often more extreme, because they do not have to appeal to the broader middle.

And by moderation, I mean a respect for the centre, for civility, for reason, for robust and free debate, and for opponents – and, in Australia today, a commitment to human rights. A healthy respect for moderation would surely ensure a more healthy respect for our Parliament, which all politicians crave.

Lets Return Some Civility to City Politics
Posted by Joel Wallace at The Leaf Chronicle, June 22, 2013

My purpose in speaking up is not to embarrass or chastise anyone. I love Clarksville and I love serving our community. I simply want us to be able to put the petty stuff aside, move forward, and deal with the big issues that face a growing city like ours.

Civility’s Overrated. Humility, On the Other Hand …
Editorial, posted at, June 26, 2013

We’re not even calling for civility.

There’s nothing wrong with disagreement. It’s essential, in fact. We elect our leaders to express their beliefs and hold to them passionately when judgment says they must. Anger and raised voices can be part of the give-and-take that makes better public policy.

We should, though, expect a bit of humility from those in the public realm — along with some insight on what’s appropriate, and what’s not.

Mr Rogers Still Teaches Us Civility
Posted by Cliff Cleaveland at The Chattanooga Times Free Press, June 27, 2013

It may be a stretch for us to love each other, given our different backgrounds and philosophies. But we can certainly extend respect to every member of this chamber. We can demonstrate to the people in our districts that differences can be settled peaceably. Because we are so often in the spotlight we can become role models for a gentler method of resolving conflicts. Now let us proceed with our important work.