Thursday, August 18, 2011

Civility and Freedom

Post 43—:

My Current Situation
I’ve been traipsing around again, visiting two of our three children and their families. Currently I’m in Silicon Valley, but plan to be back in Vancouver sometime next week. In between now and then, we will be RVing our way up north with our little 20-footer. Camp here and there along the way. Pick up a couple of grandkids near Seattle and then move on to Vancouver with them.

That said, you will understand there is not a lot of time for reading and reflection in prepping myself for the next post. Well, it’s time you hear from me again. So, not having my hard paper archives I use for much of my writings at hand, I am going to do you next best. I am going to pass on to you a discussion about civility in public discourse. Sorry, it’s from the USA. As you know, I try to concentrate on Canada and Canadian sources, but sometimes you got to make do with what you have. Of course, Americans do not have a monopoly on lack of civility! I judge that sharing part of this article with you is better than simply to keep silent for another week.

Call for Civility Produces Hatred
Carrie Daklin is a Minnesota public radio commentator recently called for civility in the gay-marriage controversy in the US. She was reportedly inundated with hateful attacks. Here’s some of her reactions to these attacks:
Within days, my words, taken completely out of context, and my message — better manners — had been used as the basis for a rallying cry: Carrie Daklin of Minnesota is a homophobe.

What Happened to Civility and Toleration?
I am not sure how my message got so skewed. I have become the object of hate mail and really vicious comments, all in the name of etiquette. Go figure. I found this all rather unsettling.... What has happened in our culture, that so many of us are completely unable to accept someone who doesn't share our views? I don't agree with all that my conservative Christian friends espouse, but I support their right to their beliefs. I don't agree with a very liberal friend who said certain members of the religious right should be shot. Actually, he used the word murdered. Sadly, I think he meant it.

In retrospect, the original infraction I wrote about is positively innocuous compared to the resulting uproar. To be blunt: My article was not about gay rights, it was not about the Defense of Marriage Act, and it most certainly was not a promotion for the National Organization for Marriage.My article was on civility, it was on manners and about respect for other people, it was on public decency even toward those you might not agree with. It was about creating a conduit in our society that allows for the paradigms and values of others, so that we can get to a place of compromise. It was about working to replace anger with a tolerance that allows us to thrive.

In the last few weeks I have been a poster child for extremism — the left vilifying me, the right holding me up as some sort of hero. Both make me equally uncomfortable. Both are unwanted. If I am a poster child for anyone, it is Emily Post.

I believe these are warnings and words of caution that we can use in Canada as well. Have a great day and see you when I’m back in Vancouver.

No comments:

Post a Comment