July 01, 2018

Civility in an Uncivil Time

Hilary H. Young, Joy & Young, L.L.P, Austin, TX

There has been much written and discussed lately about civility and incivility, particularly in the political arena.  Anger erupts on all sides, and some people voice their frustrations and concerns more passionately than others.  Opponents object to the uncivil nature of the debate and call for civil discussions of problems.  In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times, Thomas J. Sugrue, professor of history and social and cultural analysis at New York University, takes issue with the call for civility.1  Professor Sugrue notes that the civil rights movement of the 1960s were much less civil than people today appear to recall.  He observes that “methods of direct action--disruptive and threatening--spurred the Kennedy administration to move decisively,” that “disruption catalyzed change,” and that “the history of civil rights offers an unsettling reminder that the path to change is seldom polite.”

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