During the civil unrest in Ferguson, Jaycox went to witness how the people and leaders of Ferguson wrestled with what could constitute civil expressions of social anger.
Civility is therefore at the service of the promotion of a discourse that furthers the common good.
That president delights in dog-whistle insults that fall just short of outright ethnic slurs—usually.
A white woman calls the police on a black child selling water on a city street on a beastly hot day.
Instead, he presented a Christological “debate” in the Armenian church that desperately needed civility.
The overall tone of the debate lacked a great deal of proportionality.
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?
There was no warrant for the outbursts, the personal assaults, etc. As I listened to Ashcroft, I kept thinking how barbarous mob shaming was; without civility, barbarity can raise its ugly head, as it does with considerable frequency of late, becoming a political tool once again.
I learned from Guroian that though civility asks so little, so much is at stake. Civility is not fundamentally about politeness but about proportionality; it is not a virtue with fixity in its rules but rather about measured-ness in engagement. Protest in a variety of forms has had a legitimate expression in civil societies, even protest that was illegal, especially in societies where laws were known more for the censure of societies rather than for the promotion of the common good.