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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Rocks? Bricks? Bottles? A civil way to respond

Now we have our first test of civility following my summary of The Case for Civility by Os Guinness.

Kenneth Stokes, a Councilman in Mississippi, tired of police chases from other counties for petty crimes, advocates locals to throw rocks, bricks and bottles at outsider police officers.

Really? Does this solve the problem and promote peace and tranquility? How does one cordially confront such a suggestion in the spirit of civil debate?

Me? I would hope to model principles of civil debate:

PEACEFUL HISTORY: I would hearken back to Martin Luther King Jr.'s advocacy of non-violence.

HIS-SHOES-MY-SHOES FAIRNESS TEST: I would need to imagine myself walking in his shoes, and I would encourage him and those who support his suggestion to imagine walking in my shoes. If I (or anyone from another political party) were to advocate throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at anyone, would I get a pass? Would people react in the same way? Would the White House call a news conference to condemn me? What's good for the goose is good for the gander, to coin a phrase...or not.

CALMING LANGUAGE: I would be wrong in responding if I used emotionally charged words. I would need to stick to the facts and employ all my persuasive skills. I would want to look hard at all sides of the issue (often more than two), acknowledging and respecting other points of view. It's the only way to have any hope of defusing the situation.

Finally, RESPECT ONE'S RIGHT TO BE WRONG. It's the Constitutionally supported American Way.

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