More on the free speech survey: Microagressions

Earlier today I discussed the upcoming Cato Institute/YouGov survey of Americans’ views on free speech as reported in The Atlantic by Conor Friedersdorf—data that I didn’t find terribly heartening. It turns out that the same survey asked questions about statements considered by many colleges as “microaggressions”. In a related Atlantic piece, “Who is competent to decide what offends?” Friedersdorf summarizes these data separately, though the final report hasn’t yet appeared.

Friedersdorf isn’t an opponent of teaching students arriving at colleges about different cultures. Rather, he objects to the teaching of “cultural competence”: that is, giving messages to students about how to behave towards members of different groups. Here’s what Friedersdorf considers acceptable teaching:

A sound approach to teaching “cultural competence” might inform by exploring the history of blackface; or why Sikhs carry a small knife; or common challenges that orthodox Christian students experience on secular campuses; or the historical experience of a Native tribe with many members enrolled; or differences in classroom culture that Chinese exchange students might exhibit; or the hijab’s meaning. Such particulars would best be shaped by the composition of the student body at a given institution.

Well, that’s already mixing behavioral modification with facts. How can you teach about “the history of blackface” without saying that it’s considered offensive by nearly everyone, black or white? Or describe the “common challenges that orthodox Christian students experience on secular campuses” without conveying a message that challenging those students is wrong? How can you describe the “hijab’s meaning” without saying that covering one’s head is considered by many Muslim women as a form of modesty to avoid exciting men’s sexual urges? After all, that is part of the meaning for many Muslim women.

I’m not so sure , then, that agree with any formal instruction in “cultural competence” along the lines given above. Can’t they just put in the student handbook a paragraph about treating other people with civility and respect? After all, if you don’t go to college you don’t get this form of indoctrination—you’re expected to learn how to get along with other people very different from you. Do we really need the endless first-year seminars and orientations to mold students’ behaviors and language?

But Friedersdorf does object to the kind of “cultural competence” instruction that tells students what others consider “microaggressions,” and he gives some examples:

But a flawed approach leaves students less culturally competent than when they began. Consider a widely circulated educational sheet, derived from an academic text, that seems to have originated in the UC system before being circulated at UC Santa Cruz, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, the court system of Philadelphia, and beyond. It lists what it calls examples of “racial microaggressions” that “communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons.”

The following statements are included:

  • “You speak good English.”
  • “When I look at you I don’t see color.”
  • “America is a melting pot.”
  • “America is the land of opportunity.”
  • “Everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough.”

The UCLA professor Eugene Volokh once criticized this microaggressions sheet for going beyond “evenhandedly trying to prevent insult” to actively stigmatizing contested viewpoints, an inappropriate measure for administrators at a public university. I shared that objection at the time, but recently came upon another as powerful.

Before we get to that, I’ll add that some of those statements do seem rude or patronizing (“You speak good English”; and I’d add one that I’ve also noticed: characterizing members of a minority group as “remarkably articulate/eloquent” when they wouldn’t say that about a white person.) But some of the others are either inoffensive (“America is a melting pot”), or something that might offend a few people but not others (“America is the land of opportunity”). Others (“Indian giver” or “I jewed him down”) are pretty generally offensive.  But my preference would be to avoid telling students that any statements like these are offensive, and let them learn it on their own. Believe me–they will, and this avoids having college authorities handle the sticky task of what is offensive and what isn’t.

Which brings us to Friedersdorf’s beef, one derived from the Cato/YouGov survey. It turns out that “microaggression” statements aren’t nearly as offensive to different groups as is assumed—and of course that is assumed when the lists of microaggressions are compiled and circulated. Here are some data from the survey:

Telling a recent immigrant, “you speak good English” was deemed “not offensive” by 77 percent of Latinos; saying “I don’t notice people’s race” was deemed “not offensive” by 71 percent of African Americans and 80 percent of Latinos; saying “America is a melting pot” was deemed not offensive by 77 percent of African Americans and 70 percent of Latinos; saying “America is the land of opportunity” was deemed “not offensive” by 93 percent of African Americans and 89 percent of Latinos; and saying “everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough” was deemed “not offensive” by 89 percent of Latinos and 77 percent of African Americans.

The conclusion?

Public-opinion data cannot tell us whether a given statement is wrongheaded; and if campus progressives want to marshal substantive reasons for why any of the above statements should be eschewed, they ought to be free to articulate those arguments, and should receive a fair hearing by people who engage them on the merits. At times, I’m sure I’d agree with their analysis rather than the culture at large. I’m persuaded, for example, that “unauthorized immigrant” is the best locution.

I’m not sure, though, that there are “substantive reasons” beyond people’s reactions to argue why many terms are offensive. The word “Jewess”, for instance, is considered bigoted by some, but not by others. I can’t imagine any grounds for arguing one way or the other about its appropriateness without seeing if it’s considered offensive by people. Suppose that 65% of Jews (Sarah Silverman is one of these) see it as inoffensive, but 35% do. What do you tell the students? Just give them the data breakdown and let them decide for themselves?

I’d say forget the whole thing, because, based on the data above, giving lists of terms that colleges deem offensive, but aren’t offensive to many, has been a botch.  I want students to learn how to behave respectfully towards others, but not from a hamhanded bunch of college administrators orchestrating behavior—even if their motivations, as they usually are, are good.

In the end, then, I agree with Freidersdorf that this kind of instruction is misplaced, but I don’t think there’s any way to compile a list of “microaggressions” based on objective reasons why statements are wrongheaded—that is, reasons beyond “this term offends a lot of people”. (One exception: terms like “nigger” or “kike” or “towelhead” which have historically been both used to denigrate groups and are universally considered offensive. But students already know that.) What, for instance, do you do with the statement that “Islam, Orthodox Judaism, and Catholicism are misogynistic faiths”? Surely most believers of these faiths will consider those microaggressions, because they’ll be offended. But those are topics ripe for discussion, and shouldn’t be off limits.

The “microaggressions” that are taught shouldn’t be, while the ones that are “macroaggressions” are those people have already learned not to use—or soon will after they get to college! As Friedersdorf concludes:

But even if almost everyone is on the same page when it comes to blackface, Holocaust denial, or racial slurs, it appears some powerful college administrators are incompetent at formulating a broader picture of what it is to be culturally competent, and are sometimes the ones who’d most benefit from remedial education.

I’d make an exception to Holocaust denialism here, for we still need to educate students what the evidence for the Holocaust is, and I wouldn’t be offended by someone telling me the Holocaust didn’t happen. I’d be astounded, suspect they were bigoted or ignorant, and try to educate them. As for racial slurs, we all know what they are by the time we get to college, for those who don’t go to college know exactly the same thing.

h/t: DrBrydon

49 Comments

  1. prinzler
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Not sure what to do if someone whose native language is not English asks whether their English was good or not.

    Could the answer be to answer honesty and directly but sensitively? Does that sound just crazy enough to work?

    • Carey Haug
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      You have to make the judgment of whether they want feedback to help them improve or reassurance that they speak English adequately. You can’t go wrong by praising some aspect of their speech such as good vocabulary, good pronunciation, grammar, ability to make self understood etc. If they want more feedback, they will ask.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      If they ask, I think they’re entitled to an honest answer, respectfully delivered. If that offends, it’s on them.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      You answer (in *their* native tongue) that their English is better than your [whatever], or if your [whatever] is too poor to non-existent you apologise to them that you can’t answer in [whatever] but plainly their English is better than your [whatever].
      I speak four languages and am learning two others, but only claim fluency in English. I’m still conflicted over what to do when I’m comfortable in 5 of the 6. Gaelic, Japanese or Arabic? Or Swahili?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

      Context is everything.

      I’ve said “Your English is very good” to quite a lot of people, and it’s always been accepted as a compliment. Mind you, this was in France, Italy, Russia etc – context is everything.

      (Though once it caused more amusement than approbation; the French pension owner I said it to was actually an English emigre. In the circumstances, I hope being mistaken for a native French person was an implied compliment).

      cr

  2. GBJames
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    sub

  3. Craw
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    I spoke French, not overly well, with the wife of my oldest friend, who lived and worked in France for 25 years. She said my accent was pretty good, better than his. I wasn’t offended. 😉 But now I see I should sue her.

    “Can’t they just put in the student handbook a paragraph about treating other people with civility and respect? ”

    That’s the general and correct answer. It’s the only answer that is needed or can work. But it provides too few opportunities for graft: it is not acceptable to the apparatchiks who derive power and profit from this “training”.

  4. Trevor H
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    A polish friend of mine was complimented when I said her English was good, and she often asked about some of the metaphors/expressions I used
    She knew I didn’t think less of her for that

    These days I jokingly mock an American using the same phrase

    For any phrase, it depends on the context and how well you know the listener

    I found the changes over the years from ‘Black’ to ‘African American’ to BAME to ‘person of colour’ to be a trap set to call out ‘offence’ when none was intended or felt

    SJW’s have a lot to answer for!!!

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      THere’s a great Saturday Night Live sketch from the 1980s in which Robin Williams plays William F. Buckley interviewing (the real) Chris Rock and says “among you Afro-Americans or blacks or whatever term is current among you Negroes these days.”

    • BJ
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      “I found the changes over the years from ‘Black’ to ‘African American’ to BAME to ‘person of colour’ to be a trap set to call out ‘offence’ when none was intended or felt.”

      Terms and phrases must be constantly changed in an outrage culture. Once the “inoffensive” term is adopted by too many people, it (1) loses its effectiveness as a tool to chastise the outgroup, and (2) loses its utility as a way to signal being a member of the ingroup.

      All these constant changes in language aren’t about helping the marginalized — as this poll shows, most of the people in the groups supposedly being protected don’t care — but about forming effective tools for gaining power, controlling behavior, and fostering division.

      • Rita
        Posted October 31, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        “BAME”?

        • Trevor H
          Posted October 31, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

          Black Asian and Minority Ethnic

          https://duckduckgo.com/?q=BAME&t=ffcm&ia=web

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted October 31, 2017 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          Black/ Asian/ Middle Eastern.
          Probably other connotations too.
          In business, it’s not uncommon to see three divisions of a company – US, EME (Europe/MiddleEast), and ROTW (rest of the World). Sometimes US, Asia and EME/RoTW.

  5. Jeff Rankin
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Thus spake PCC: “Can’t they just put in the student handbook a paragraph about treating other people with civility and respect?”

    Crazy talk.

    If they did this, the job is done and, well, they’ve got all these * studies folk who’ve been indoctrinated educated and need something to do.

    Moreover, how are all the marginalized group members supposed to keep track of what they should find offensive?

    • Liz
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      In the summer of 2000 before arriving at Holy Cross, our dean sent out a welcome letter with a mandatory reading assignment. We had to buy and read Caucasia by Danzy Senna. I think it was important especially since half of my class came from public schools and the other half from private schools. My college was much less diverse than my public high school. There was no assignment or follow-up but we all talked about it informally the first few days during orientation. A mandatory reading assignment like that might be a better idea.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted October 31, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        A mandatory reading assignment like that might be a better idea.

        If I’d had that shoved under my nose, I’d have told the Dean where to shove it – unlubricated and sideways. I didn’t drop English literature at the first possible moment in my schooling to have some idiot of a university administrator telling me to waste my time on it again.
        (Science Faculty mandatory requirements were one of Maths, Physics or Chemistry for 25% of first year. Options for direct entry to 2nd year.)

        • Liz
          Posted October 31, 2017 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

          “Unlubricated and sideways”? “…idiot of a university administrator…”? I went to a school that was 90% white and catholic. I’m lucky to have had this assignment. I don’t recall it being optional although it may not have said mandatory. If the dean asks you to read a book, you read it.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 31, 2017 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

          “If I’d had that shoved under my nose, I’d have told the Dean where to shove it”

          All four hundred and thirteen pages? 😉

          I’d agree. Could the Dean not have found something more concise to make his point with?

          (Animal Farm, say, would do as well; it’s much briefer (122 pages), much more concise (you can pick it up second-hand for a song). Though maybe the allegory is too subtle for modern students to understand?)

          Okay, how about just settle for printing out the Wikipedia page on Caucasia for them to ponder – though they might want to edit out the mordant comment that someone has sneaked in to line 3 of that page – “Much of the novel centers around the theme of racial passing. I beg for the sweet release of death.”

          cr

          • Liz
            Posted November 1, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

            The Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at the College of the Holy Cross since 1997 is Jacqueline Peterson. She retired this year. “Peterson, the first woman, person of color and lay person (non-clergy) to be named to the president’s cabinet, capped her 20 years of service at the close of the academic year.” https://news.holycross.edu/blog/2017/07/14/holy-cross-celebrates-retiring-dean-jackie-peterson/

            I recall when applying to the college in 1999 that less than 10% of the student population was African American, Asian, or other. According to this NYT article from 1985, there were 44 black students out of 2,500 at that time. “Holy Cross, a Jesuit school, has 44 blacks in the student population of 2,500, about 1.7 percent, according to Julian Plaisted, the college’s director of public affairs.” http://www.nytimes.com/1985/01/06/sports/racial-charges-split-holy-cross.html?pagewanted=all The statistics for the fall of 2016 show minorities and international students up to 25%. https://www.holycross.edu/about-holy-cross/holy-cross-glance

            You both would tell this African American dean of students at a college with a primarily white, catholic student body to shove an unlubricated copy of Caucasia where, exactly? That’s really what you’d do? Good luck with that. There are more appropriate ways to respond to assignments from the dean that you don’t want to do, think are useless, or think could be completed in a quarter of the time with a different book of your own choosing.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

              I can’t answer for Aidan, but myself, I probably wouldn’t have told the Dean that verbatim – but I would certainly have thought it.

              I do recall, as an engineering student, the positive contempt we all shared for anything that was not directly related to our quite demanding course of study. Our limited spare time was ours, to pursue our own interests, not somebody else’s.

              If the Dean had come up with a 20-page short story we might have read it. But 400 pages? It would have had exactly the opposite effect of that which the Dean intended. (And I say this as a compulsive reader. A good book = a book of my choice. A waste of time = a book of someone else’s choosing. I still loathe and detest Grahame Greene from being forced to read his morbidly depressing and turgid (and Goddy) ‘The Power and The Glory’ at school. Conan Doyle, whose historical novels I discovered quite by chance for myself, I revere).

              cr

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

                Oh, and as a P.S. (do I really need to say it?) I couldn’t care less what the Dean’s gender or ethnicity was, or for that matter, her politics. If the Dean had been Albert Einstein I would still have bitched about the assignment.

                cr

              • Liz
                Posted November 1, 2017 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

                I understand your point. I didn’t want to read that long of a book either during the summer. It was important, though, and am happy to have read it. It’s not about gender or ethnicity. Aiden’s comments were offensive. “Unlubricated” and “idiot” are offensive. I don’t think he backed up where he was coming from calling the dean who gave that assignment an “idiot” and suggesting he would tell her to “shove” the book “unlubricated” wherever. It’s disturbing.

              • Diane G.
                Posted November 2, 2017 at 2:49 am | Permalink

                @ Liz

                Perhaps you’re reading Aidan a little too literally. 🙂 For better or for worse, the old “I’ll tell him where to go!” has gotten more, uh, descriptive via the internet (though no less trite).

                (My first reaction to such a reading assignment would have mirrored his, but then I’m also an old curmudgeon…)

                Somehow I find a “welcome letter” containing a “mandatory reading assignment” a tad oxymoronic. But if everyone read it and profited from it the way you and your classmates did, then who am I to say?

              • Liz
                Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

                @ Diane G. Thanks, Diane. The words were in response to me and I took it personally. It might have just been aggravation in general and I misread. Either way, I would think someone who speaks four languages would have a more refined way to express frustration. Not like I’m perfect.

          • Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

            I think the idea is to pick something nobody has likely read, too. This is supposedly how philosophy (for example) proseminars work – topics are selected that are as unfamiliar to *all* the students as possible (within the broad field, of course). So I heard at McGill that one year they did “history of infinity”, because they had few ancient philosophy and philosophy of math/logic students that year – all were contemporary continental or early modern or something.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    When one leaves the nest, home (mom and dad) you are going to see lots of things you have not seen before. I think the average human is adaptable to this regardless of age. Why a college bound youth would need more preparation for this than others, I do not know. I happened to go into the military service at 18 and was living in another country before 19 and I do not recall any courses or cultural training along the way. It is all part of life and experience that hopefully will make you a better person.

  7. Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    People should learn what is and what isn’t appropriate as they go along because using phrases like ‘America is a land of opportunity’ and getting a horrified reaction is a useful way of determining that someone is a total dick actively looking to take offence and it is best keeping your distance from them.

  8. TJR
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    I was with a friend in Prague when we were asked for directions by two Irish women.

    Them: “You speak very good English”

    Us: “That’s because we are English”

    Them: “Oh, right”.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      A few years ago when they opened the new formula one grand prix, in Austin, Texas, one of the drivers, Webber, from Australia was at a restaurant talking to a couple of local gals. They mentioned that he spoke pretty good English.

  9. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Like “Chinaman”, “Jewess” was once considered utterly inoffensive, and became so over time. The latter occurred mainly in the 1960s. The former occurred in the 19th century, and may be related to the formation of the slang for long odds as “having a Chinaman’s chance”.

    =-=-=

    Blackface has a really really complicated history.
    Mohammed Ali was both a friend of Billy Crystal and thoroughly enjoyed the latter’s blackface impressions (on HBO, not SNL) of a hypothetically now-Jewish Mohammed Ali. Ali’s family asked Crystal to do them at MA’s funeral!! (at which I suspect Crystal eschewed the blackface he used on HBO).

    Guatemala’s current president, Jimmy Morales, is a former comedian who has done blackface. His work is quite popular with that country’s black Garifuna community.

    I believe I have already quote the critic who wrote that in “The Jazz Singer” we have blackface as “an expressive and artistic exploration of the notion of duplicity and ethnic hybridity within American identity.”

    (While it is now taboo to cast a white actor as “Othello”, performances of Verdi’s opera “Otello” still routinely perform it. This is probably due to a shortage of black opera singers.)

    Historians suspect that the stigmatization of blackface begins with negative reaction to the film “Birth of a Nation”, after which blackface was relegated to to comic roles, which really compounded the problem.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      P.S. I’ve never put on blackface, but I’ve been told I do a very good voice impression of Billie Holiday. I don’t do it much these days.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted October 31, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        Serious question – and I haven’t googled or Wiki’d it. Is (or was?) Billie Holliday black?
        On those rare occasions when I listen to music, I use my ears, my eyes normally being occupied doing something interesting.

        • Gabrielle
          Posted November 1, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

          Yes.

    • prinzler
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Many famous black performers in the 1800s and into the early 1900s used blackface themselves, including Mr. Bo Jangles (Bill Robinson). Apparently it was used as a way of making fun of whites who were making fun of blacks.

  10. Posted October 31, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Offended by lists of offensive statements?

    This would be a good time for the lost Socratic dialogues on political correctness . Hat tip to Brian Leiter.

  11. Craw
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I personally think it worth remarking when President Trump forms a clear and grammatical sentence, and should that ever happen in my presence, which I consider unlikely, I would remark favorably upon it.

  12. BJ
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    “The UCLA professor Eugene Volokh once criticized this microaggressions sheet for going beyond ‘evenhandedly trying to prevent insult’ to actively stigmatizing contested viewpoints, an inappropriate measure for administrators at a public university.”

    This is an issue I’ve discussed before. It seems a significant part of the movement against “hate speech” involves affixing the label to many political and policy, to make expressing the unapproved position beyond the pale (or punishable under the law, for those who wish to outlaw hate speech). Holding the position that sanctuary cities shouldn’t be allowed or that a border wall should be built are now considered by many regressives to be hate speech.

    If I remember correctly, the California university system informed its professors that they could be fired for repeatedly “microaggressing” against students when they released that list.

    Finally, the poll demonstrates what many of us have long suspected: many of the offenses and taboos being manufactured daily by the easily offended are on behalf of people who don’t want nor care about such things. The same was shown when the Washington Redskins controversy was at its height, with a poll which found that 90% of Native Americans weren’t offended or found the name to be an honor, while white people made up the bulk of people who wanted the name changed. The people manufacturing these offenses are hurting the people they purport to protect, rather than helping.

  13. stuartcoyle
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Whatever happened to simply learning by trial and error?

    If someone says something that offends or hurts you, just say so and tell them why it is so.

    If you offend someone inadvertently and they say so, then apologize, learn from your mistake and move on.

    • Curtis
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Exactly but you also need to give people the benefit of the doubt. Many years ago, I called someone Oriental. She gently told me that some other people would take offense but that she had used the word herself. It was no big deal because she chose to make it no big deal.

      Unless you have a strong reason to think someone is being intentionally offensive, be kind when you correct them.

      • Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        That’s what I’ve often said about pronouns: if I get yours wrong, forgive me, and tell me please what I should say. Don’t assume the worst, and I’ll be happy to accommodate you. People’s sense of “give and take” are all out of wack sometimes.

  14. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    “Our incoming freshman class comes from a broad variety of cultural backgrounds. Get to know each other; learn from and about each other. Expand your horizons. Do it in good faith, with good humor. Never give offense intentionally, nor take offense lightly, where none is intended. Now go and have some fun, goddammit!”

    • yazikus
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      +1
      I dig it.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 1, 2017 at 2:00 am | Permalink

      That’s it in a nutshell!

  15. Trevor H
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I think the ‘taking offence on others behalf’ is the more prevalent

    I have a birth defect and whilst kids ask questions in curiosity, the looks from parents ‘Don’t ask THAT!’ are priceless

  16. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I worry about this micro-aggression thing for several reasons, not the least of which is how quickly (contra anti-evolutionists) many micros soon become escalated into a mega aggression.

    By the same logic (not downplaying actual sexual abuse) micro-flirtations get escalated very quickly into something completely unacceptable.

    Similarly micro-opinions get escalated into ‘hate speech’.

    Perhaps it is the kneejerk escalation rather than the minor things we say or do that is the real problem? I think it provides an easy distraction from more serious issues.

  17. Posted November 1, 2017 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    The biggest problem we have today with teaching civility is the barrage of messages coming from the media and the internet saying that we DON’T have to be civil. That we DON’T need to learn other cultures. That it is not our job to be inclusive but the onus is on “them.” This is the culture we have created and pushed by political pundits today. We have to admit they have won. We are a culture of misinformed, uncivilized, disrespectful bigots, just like the powerful want us to be. And we seem to like it that way.


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