This is the first in our ongoing series of posts highlighting discourse about civility around the Web. Here, we search out thoughtful, up-to-date articles about civility-related problems and solutions, about conversation and action across the political aisle, about being heard by people who believe differently from ourselves, and especially about listening to people who say things that may be difficult for us to hear.
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. And though our ordinary modus operandi is to highlight articles and analysis pertinent to civility in the United States, you will occasionally see links to upcoming events, lists and infographics, and discussions of currents of thought from all around the world.
Do you have a link that you think would be right for this segment? Please do not hesitate to email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the title, url, and a short summary, and we will gladly review it for publication.
Now, onto the list:
When I’ve been involved in experiments, so to speak, of civil debate in Internet forums, I’ve often picked up on frustration when the topic of civility is mentioned. Many people believe that civility is a means to “censor” people from telling certain truths, purportedly “politically incorrect” truths that need to be said no matter how brutal they are – even as some of these same folks readily admit that intimidating people out of conversations is the end goal of promoting “anything goes” policies in Internet forums. I question the line of thinking that posits that truth is the enemy of civility. Form and content are, I think, often inseparable.
Why Christians Must Seek Civility in Communication
Posted by Mitch Carnell at Ethicsdaily.com, June 5, 2013
A group of 25 religious leaders met in Washington, D.C., recently to promote civil discourse. They wanted to turn down the harshness of the rhetoric in our nation’s capital. Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, told the media, “Faith leaders have a remarkable opportunity to shift the conversation, but it’s very challenging, particularly in a larger society that wants to understand everything as a battle, as engaging the enemy, rather than with someone who might have something to teach us.”
Seattle University Law School is offering an all-day continuing legal education program titled Civility and Cross-Cultural Communication, on August 15, 2013. According to the course description: this seminar introduces the fundamentals of civility and key research about cross-cultural understandings, and suggests practical approaches to more effective cross-cultural encounters. A relevant part of the presentation is devoted to building the participants’ own cultural profile, and familiarizing them with the fundamental societal values that shape how people think and act. This understanding will empower them to interact more effectively with people from other cultural groups, well beyond anecdotes and stereotypes.
Supposed classroom civility that suppresses edgy voices is not civility, but repression with a smooth surface, which can trigger anger and violence (catcalling, gay-bashing, rape, and more). Unbridled conversation and readings change minds. Martha Nussbaum’s precise analytic dissection of prostitution in the context of other traditional women’s work convinced a surprising number of my students that they should support legalized prostitution. Mary Roach’s hilarious, info-packed Bonk turned many of them deeply introspective about the physical preconditions of sex. The dignity and force with which a number of openly gay and transgender students challenged other students and their professor altered and softened, I believe, initial inclinations toward intolerance on the part of some.
Can partisan politicians govern collaboratively? We still hope so. In an Enquirer op-ed last September, a local group of civic leaders calling itself Beyond Civility: Communication for Effective Governance announced its intention to address the disabling problem of political polarization. We noted that in a healthy democracy, as in any healthy relationship, it is critical that people with different views be able to hear and be heard by each other. We reported on communication workshops for elected and civic leaders, and promised a series of Side-by-Side presentations in which pairs of high-profile leaders would tell stories of their early political and social formation. Now, a year later, we’d like to share what we’ve learned from this experience.