You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
From today’s Recorder editorial:
Hatzenbuhler, who does a lot of her caterwauling on the social Internet — that bastion of civility — went back and forth in an unprofessional manner
From the Oxford dictionary, we find that civility is synonomous with: courtesy, courteousness, politeness, good manners, graciousness, consideration, respect, politesse, comity.
So what the editorial wants you to believe is that the lack of civility in our city is from the dirty, dirty “social Internet” — the dirty thing that you are using to read this page right now. In other words, civility resides everywhere else but the dirty “social Internet”. Curse you, Facebook!
So when you read my critiques of the editorials here, here and here, the inherent lack of civility in the tone and substance of those pieces apparently does not contribute to the lack of civility in the public debate. Certainly, the image of a clown car with today’s editorial seems wholly consistent with fostering a more civil and informed debate, n’est-ce pas? This is like listening to someone extol the virtues a vegan diet while devouring a rare filet mignon.
And speaking of bastions of civility, let’s turn to local AM radio– the breeding ground and wellspring for the rumors, innuendos and misinformation embraced by Ms. Hatzenbuhler and many others — as that certainly cannot be contributing to the lack of civility in our public debate. After all, that is not the dirty social Internet. So when a caller goes unchallenged on how the 9/11 terrorists did not kill enough “city people”, ostensibly to make a point on the superiority of upstate conservatism versus downstate liberalism , that certainly does not diminish the civil tone in our public debate.
How lucky indeed are we to have such bastions of civility within our local media.
Incredibly, we are to believe that, if not for the dirty social Internet, our local media has no part , no responsibility and no association at all with the lack of civility and coarseness in the public debate. To the bastions of civility, they see themselves as mere spectators, sidelined to watch and tsk-tsk at the ugly public spectacle taking place before their eyes. They get to pick and choose the gladiators but grow faint once the bloodshed ensues and bemoan the savagery.
Alderwoman Beekman brought up how kids perceive the lack of civility as a form of bullying. The kids are right: this is not how things should work in the public sphere. Nor is this adult behavior to be modeled and exemplified by kids.
If we want to at least pretend to act as adults and restore some sense of civility, we should maybe consider that local media , maybe , just maybe, might want to be accountable and responsible to shifting the tone of the debate as it seems pretty clear that the lack of civility exists well outside of just the social Internet. Why just point to social media while blissfully ignoring the the more prevalent and mass-marketed local media outlets for the very same lack of civility? All the social Internet does is make what goes on behind-the-scenes more visible; let’s not kid ourselves that lack of civility is a new phenomenon here solely the province of social media. This seems especially ironic in light of local media’s very own presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Finally, for the sake of the kids, let me explain why adults act this way in a manner which most kids can appreciate:
“Do As we Say, Not as We Do”.