Civility Linkblogging: Tom Ridge, Rick Scott, and Convicted Civility

Civility LinkbloggingCivility Linkblogging is 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 installment is largely eclectic. It features former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge’s thoughts on Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator John McCain, and Pepperdine University President Andrew Benton’s considerations of convicted civility. It also features an important insight on civility and power: Nadine Smith, writing about an incident in which Florida Governor Rick Scott was yelled at in a coffee shop, tells us that civility should never be an instrument used to silence disagreement or constrain the disempowered.

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

Now — the list:

When Civility Really Means Silence
Posted by Nadine Smith at The Huffington Post, April 7, 2016

I lament that we live in a world that exalts entrenched opinion over reason and facts, that rewards bullying over empathy. So I understand the discomfort expressed by a few of my friends who see her outburst as further evidence that the last threads holding our democracy together are being pulled apart from the left and the right.

But that analysis avoids any discussion of who holds power. These are not equal sides in a debate. The governor’s agenda has been uncivil and profane. His actions have cost lives.

Former Gov. Tom Ridge: Civility in Politics Matters More Than Ever
Posted by Tom Ridge at, April 8, 2016

While it is easy to lament incivility, I prefer the approach taken by Allegheny College, who this week named Biden and McCain the winners of its annual Prize for Civility in Public Life. I’m proud to be an honorary degree recipient from Allegheny and applaud college President Jim Mullen’s selection.

Ask anyone who has sat across a table from Biden or McCain, and they’ll tell you the same thing—that these are men of principle who hold strong to their beliefs and will argue passionately in defense of their positions. But they also understand that one need not demonize their opposition in order to effectively govern. Their remarkable careers speak to their ability to work collegially and effectively on both sides of the aisle and to rebuke the notion that Republicans and Democrats can’t get things done together.

A Little Civility, Please
Posted by Marianne Heimes at Savannah Now, April 11, 2016

I love my children, grandchildren, and great grandson. My hope is that they will live in a safe world, safe to walk down any street, safe to sit on their front porch at any time, safe to drive Highway 80 to the beach, safe to walk through Forsyth Park if they wish and free to vote for the candidate of their choice and know their vote counted.

Those are just a few of the many things I wish for them — and for you as well. …

My faith tells me we are going to be all right when all is said and done. I just hope that what is said and done in the future will be more civil. And if you wonder what exactly civil means, Webster describes it as politeness. Pretty simple when you think about it. Let’s all try it.

The Road to Restoring Civility
Posted by Shelby Taylor at, April 12, 2016

Today’s university students will be called upon to solve some of society’s most critical issues. Whether it is through expert speakers, timely research, service learning opportunities or internships, our center provides critical programming that can help lay the groundwork for a more civil and open-minded approach to politics and policy.

The road to recovery starts with educating the next generation that indignation and insults have no place in public discourse and that we must respect and appreciate the opinions and the humanity of others.

Embrace Convicted Civility
Posted by Andrew K. Benton at The Pepperdine University Graphic, April 22, 2016

I ran across a phrase recently that I like very much: convicted civility. As soon as I saw those two words together I knew immediately and exactly what they meant. I admire strong convictions presented fairly and without elements of ad hominem attack in pursuit of truth and, even, fairness and justice. Lutheran scholar Martin Marty once said, “People these days who are civil often lack strong convictions, and people with strong religious convictions often are not very civil. What we need is convicted civility.” The time has come for convicted civility in all things.

I have held these personal thoughts for the past few weeks, uncertain if they would add much to any conversation. While I cannot precisely define the phrase convicted civility, I know what it means to me. It means that we can hear and process words with which we do not agree and that we can be unafraid to refute them with truth, courage and confidence. It means that as we encounter new thinking and information, that we are free to ask hard questions and to pursue answers to questions important to us. Questions should not be threatening, and answers should not be unassailable when given. Steel sharpens steel in the dialectic of learning and living.

Civility Linkblogging: City Government and Bangladesh

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 [email protected]. 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, 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, 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, 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: Judaism, Lawyers, and Centrist Strategies

Civility Linkblogging posts, as always, are part of an ongoing series meant to highlight trends and thoughtful discourse about civility around the web. We find recent articles from blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other online venues from the United States and abroad. And we repost them here as a civility snapshot for interested readers.

This week’s links range geographically from Florida to Washington State, Colorodo to New Jersey. But in terms of topic, they focus on two recurring issues: strategies for maintaining and enforcing civility in the legal profession; and the possibility of finding civility in centrist politics at the municiple level, and in our political parties more broadly.

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 Civility Crisis
Posted by Greg Anderson at The 16%, July 17, 2013

As a former county commissioner, I realize civility is often easier discussed than practiced. Strong emotions, personal values, and competing agendas can fuel uncivil fires. Ironically, even the strongest emotions, values, and agendas can be expressed within a civil framework. In other words, I can honor you even if I strongly disagree with you.

Intentionally practice civility. Good governance cannot exist without it.

National Policy Director Urges Civil Dialogue
Posted by Rober Wiener at New Jersey Jewish News, July 17, 2013

“Don’t make a table with just your friends,” he urged. “Make a table with all the people in the community you could possibly work with. Don’t limit. Because when the table is big, we have become the solution. If someone says, ‘We are not going to deal with J Street,’ then we are not going to be successful,” he said, referring to the left-leaning Israel advocacy group.

Gutow said the JCPA is working with the UJA-Federation of New York in a young leadership project so that “people age 20 to 40 learn how to talk to each other about Israel.”

Civility Counts: The Importance of Professionalism
Posted by Ryan S. Hansen at Denver Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, July 17, 2013

As young attorneys, we must recognize that there is no place within our profession to treat opposing counsel, opposing parties, court personnel, or judicial officers with any amount of disrespect, acrimoniousness, or belligerence. Attorney incivility tarnishes our profession, frustrates the timely resolution of legal matters, hampers clients’ interests, and erodes the already tenuous trust the public has in lawyers. There is no doubt that with concerted effort and forethought, we can all zealously represent our clients’ interests without engaging in caustic, uncivil behavior.

New Court Panels Will Police Lawyer Incivility
Posted by Rafael Olmeda at The Sun Sentinel, July 21, 2013

Attorneys across the state will soon be called on the carpet in a new way whenever their incivility toward each other crosses the professional line.

Courthouse administrators in Broward and Palm Beach counties are establishing local professionalism panels to resolve disputes between attorneys before they escalate into formal complaints to the Florida Bar. The panels were ordered in each of the state’s 20 judicial circuits by the Florida Supreme Court.

A New Take on Tension, Civility in Politics
Posted by Chris Thomas at The San Juan Islander, July 22, 2013

Parker J. Palmer called democracy “a non-stop experiment in the strengths and weaknesses of political institutions,” and said tension is key to the process.

“It is a system that was designed to hold tensions, problems, questions – to keep them on the table so that we can keep returning to them for better answers. The question is, can we hold those tensions creatively, in a way that doesn’t create enemies, doesn’t demonize people who think differently from us.”