Civility Linkblogging: Pakistan, Mississippi, Twitter, and More

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 [email protected]. 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, 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, 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: Small Towns, LDS, and the Internet

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 [email protected]. 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.