Civility Linkblogging: Portland, Oshkosh, Texas, and the Internet

Civility LinkbloggingThis 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 articles can be seen, in a certain way, as Linkblogging’s New Years Resolution Edition: from Wisconsin, a discussion of the problem of gossip in small communities; from Indiana, a renewed commitment to civility on the legislative agenda; from Oregon, an examination of civility’s balance with free speech; and from Texas, a reminder to listen — really listen — to what candidates are telling us as the presidential primaries finally begin to roll around.

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:

Is Facebook Destroying Civility and Truth?
Posted at Raw Story, January 2, 2016

Could it be, as Applebaum and Manjoo suggest, that this latest phase of democratizing our communication channels has turned out to be a politically regressive force, increasing the levels of demagoguery and deceit and civic conflict?

History is undeniably on the side of Zuckerberg. Think of all the step changes in human connection over the eons — from scrolls to the printing press to the pamphleteers to the newspapers. Yes, each transition had its own particular form of tumult, and each undermined its fair share of existing authorities, but with the hindsight of centuries, they are all now considered to be fundamentally on the side of progress: democratizing the flow of information and decision-making in society, and increasing the quality of those decisions. No one is hankering to rewind the clock to, say, the media of the 16th-century: post-Gutenberg, but pre-pamphleteers.

Gossip Not a Hallmark of Civility
Posted by Kaitlyn Lockery at The Northwestern, January 2, 2016

The Oshkosh community, although growing, still has a small town feel. While having that small town feel brings many advantages, it can sometimes feel like everyone knows everyone’s business. This can lead to gossip circulating among the community between friends, coworkers and even family members. Gossip can be damaging to the individual and others who are involved when the story that is being repeated may not be fully true. Why waste your time and energy gossiping about someone or something when that energy could be better spent on something more positive? This could include finding the truth, looking at the story from the other’s point of view, or simply not allowing gossip in your daily discussions with your peers.

One goal that I encourage everyone to try to accomplish this month is, before you repeat any story ask yourself two questions: Is this the truth? Is this story damaging to the person involved? If either of these questions are answered to indicate it is gossip, ignore it.

Indiana House Leaders Commit to Civility
Posted by Dan Carden at The Northwest Indiana Times, January 9, 2016

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, both declared last week that debate over controversial issues likely to come before the House through March 14 will not devolve into name-calling or personal attacks.

“We will do everything in our power to be certain that no matter how difficult the discussions might get on any issue, that we’re respectful of each other, that we talk about ideas and not personalities and that we work together to do what we believe is best for the state of Indiana,” Bosma said.

He emphasized that civility is so important to the 71 House Republicans that Bosma decided to include preserving civility on the caucus legislative agenda, alongside infrastructure funding, student testing reform and cracking down on drug dealers.

‘Civility’ No Reason to Trample Portlanders’ First Amendment Rights
Posted at Oregon Live, January 12, 2016

It’s easy to agree with Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman that civility seems to have taken a nose dive. That presidential candidates openly deride competitors as “losers” is only a little less astounding than the erosion of “Portland Polite” in recent months, where protesters’ heckling has disrupted City Council meetings and caused commissioners to adjourn.

But even with that backdrop, there’s no justification for a resolution that Saltzman plans to introduce on Wednesday with the support of Mayor Charlie Hales. Saltzman is seeking Council approval to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that the city may not bar people from attending future council meetings based on previous disruptive behavior, as The Oregonian/OregonLive’s Maxine Bernstein reported. Such “prospective exclusion” orders infringe on a person’s First Amendment protections, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon said in his Dec. 31 opinion, siding with a local activist who had been barred for 60 days from City Hall for previous conduct.

As Primaries Draw Near, Let’s Not Forget Civility
Posted by Ferrell Foster at Ethics Daily, January 11, 2015

No party speaks for God. There will be committed Christians, as well as others, running in both parties. Some of them will actually use language that connects deeply with those of us who seek to follow Christ.

Language is a powerful tool for good or evil, right or wrong. As a result, we Christians need to listen with all the intelligence and wisdom we can muster through the help of the Holy Spirit.

Civility Linkblogging: Campaigning, Gossip, and Respect

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 [email protected]. 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, 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, 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, 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.