Module Essay: Is Civility a Tool to Build Trust or a Weapon to Silence?
Overview: The readings in this module have focused on civility. Appiah’s article argues that multiculturalism does not solve the divisive problems in our society and calls for a “civic culture” in which “everyone recognizes that people are entitled to respect whatever their gender or sexuality, their race or religion, and wherever they came from”. Plante writes that we must work together to return to a civic culture in which “all interactions are conducted with respect and compassion and that people who don’t behave in a civil manner are provided with corrective feedback”.
However, Fadel writes that “The calls for civility can feel like an effort to stifle people’s outrage over injustice or hate, because civility can be a tool to build or a weapon to silence” . Meanwhile, Ronson writes about the powerful effects of internet shaming, and interviews a person whose life was destroyed by a tweet, noting the “disconnect between the severity of the crime and the gleeful savagery of the punishment.”
Prompt: Respond to the questions raised in Fadel’s article:
“To what purpose is civility going to be used? Is it going to be more inclusive? Is it going to mean that you’re bringing more people’s voices into the political debates, or are you using civility as a way to go back to the old hierarchies and the status quo since the founding of the American republic?”