Hiltzik on Civility

Remaking the University and others are also questioning what appears to be an emerging “civility doctrine” that appears to be more about social media and free speech. Civility in discourse, like patience, is certainly a virtue to be cultivated. Mandating it from a position of power is quite another matter.


Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times is one of my favorite newspaper columnists.  This week he ran an excellent piece on what I’ve started calling the emerging “civility doctrine” in higher education.  Here are some excerpts:

When someone in power praises the principle of free speech, it’s wise to be on the lookout for weasel words. The phrase “I favor constructive criticism,” is weaseling. So is, “You can express your views as long as they’re respectful.” In those examples, “constructive” and “respectful” are modifiers concealing that the speaker really doesn’t favor free speech at all.

The targets of free speech never think it’s constructive or respectful. Quite the contrary. . . .

A major problem with using words like “respect” and “civility” to mark the boundaries of free speech protections is that they don’t have fixed definitions. One person can be deeply affronted (or claim to be) by language…

View original post 136 more words


About @NatM4Equity

The National Mobilization for Equity is a coalition of organizations committed to alleviating the present staffing crisis in higher education: three-quarters of the teaching jobs in American colleges are held by underpaid, precarious and poorly-supported contingent faculty. Our long-term goal is to end contingency as the norm. The current untenable situation not only adversely affects all faculty members, both contingent and tenure-track, it also negatively impacts our profession, our students and the quality of their education.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s