Then I was editing with the Mennonite theologian, Joseph Kotva, an ecumenical collection of essays on virtues that could be used for the churches.
We called it, Among the contributors, Vigen Guroian submitted an essay to us on civility, that made me first think, couldn’t you give us something more?
The host and those interviewed were clearly not disposed to the refrain, but for the duration of the program, no one on either side of the debate mentioned the necessity of civility in their replies.
Today, they seem everywhere to be in short supply and at the risk of seeming platitudinous, or worse, sanctimonious, I will proffer several virtues that might put a variety of events, including Brexit and the forthcoming US election, in a more socially responsible context. Throughout the forty-six minute program, there was a refrain from callers who roughly argued that there are no rules for tweeting or other postings on social media.
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Nonetheless this enduring sense of good or appropriate and measured responses has always been constitutive of civility.
For civility brings rational method and style to contemporary discourse.
On Thursday, June 23, on WGBH Tom Ashcroft hosted a program on Mob Internet Shaming.
Years ago I thought that civility was a minimalist virtue, in that it expects so little.