“Oh no, you are not even sexy enough to talk to me!” This was one of the first things I heard at IUSB after I enrolled as a student.
I was walking in front of the SAC where I saw a short, slightly overweight man walking toward a young woman in a mini skirt. He had made eye contact with her while they were walking towards each other on the sidewalk and he said hello softly as a courtesy…… and the above was her reply. I have written about civility before and it is time to write about it again.
What is it with so many people today? There seems to be a greater lack of civility then ever before. The above act of viciousness is not the only one I have witnessed since enrolling on campus. I saw a left-wing activist student cuss out a member of the College Republicans over a minor disagreement over the position of a sign. The College Republicans here at IUSB had to get a plexi-glass covered and locked display board because some of the more “tolerant” among us repeatedly vandalized it.
There is also the hate mail that has been sent to student publications. Some of it is just unbelievable. Some of the hate mail sent to me has been a litany of warm and fuzzies like, “you better shut up Chuck,” “you better watch your back Chuck,” “you better watch your mouth,” and not to be left out, the myriad of colorful metaphors (read cuss words). The Vision had to suspend the posting privileges of a professor for repeatedly posting cuss word filled rants. By the way, I love hate mail so please send more.
We cannot have an article about civility at IUSB and forget to mention the parking lot. I witnessed a man side swipe a car in the parking lot and just drive away (yes I turned him in). There was also the rash of “support your troops magnets” that were repeatedly taken off cars, including my own.
Incivility is not just a problem at IUSB. I have a stack of news articles in my archive that tell of campaign offices being attacked and vandalized, college student groups being attacked physically by other students while administrators sat on their hands, and a disturbing trend of increased anti-Semitism on campus across the country. I have even run across a few anti-Semites on our campus.
Why is this happening? It’s not just the old folks acting this way it’s the young as well. It has been my experience that many students and some professors are simply incapable of being on the losing end of a conversation or debate without losing their temper or walking away. Too often they simply do not have the skills to understand an opposing argument or effectively articulate their own and still behave in a civil, adult manner.
We did not have this problem to this degree 150 years ago. Each town had two or three partisan news-papers and they argued in a very lively manner as to why their point of view was correct and the other papers were wrong. The result was an average citizen that was exposed to debate and argument with an applied critical thinking process every day. The Founding Fathers debated every facet of our society vigorously face to face and in letters to each other and still had great respect for each other. We have lost that in today’s society.
One of the worst acts of incivility has been brought to us courtesy of the Columbia School of Journalism. Colombia awarded a 2004-2005 photo showing the execution of three Iraqi election workers by insurgents. The Associated Press (AP) reporter was a few feet away snapping the photos in complete safety because the insurgents tipped off the AP to be there at the right place and time. This slaughter of the innocent could have easily been stopped if the AP had a residue of humanity; instead they chose to exploit the murder of three innocent people and were rewarded for such revolting behavior with a Pulitzer Prize from the Columbia School of Journalism.
Professors being persecuted for their political views are also a problem in civility that I could write about in every issue of The Vision. Professor John Lewis (no relation to our own John Lewis) at Ashland University in Ohio had received a $100,000 gift to the university to do research in objectivism, a philosophy that also has a political angle involving small government and free markets. Ashland U. was thrilled to take the money and Prof. Lewis received letters of praise from Ashland U’s president. When it came time for Prof. Lewis’ tenure he was denied:
…the Board of Trustees voted to deny your application for promotion because it was concluded that there had been a lack of support on your part for the University’s Mission Statement. … Specifically, concern was expressed at all levels of the process about writings, submitted by you as part of your scholarly activities in support of your application, that advocate for Objectivist views that are hostile to the University’s mission. (
Ashland’s published rules guarantee that professors are “free from institutional censorship or discipline.” Prof. Lewis asked the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (thefire.org) to intervene on his behalf.
Perhaps Bill & Ted were on to something when they said, “let’s be excellent to each other.”