In an era when the mainstream media is hyperpolarized, it is vital to our societal and democratic well-being to have access to news sources with more balanced viewpoints. AllSides provides news sources from across the center-left-right spectrum and works to improve civil discourse, and they just announced exciting news and posted a great article exploring civility!
The new website, AllSides for Schools, offers resources for students to improve their media literacy, build empathy, and have tools for engaging in civil discourse – read more about it in the post below! Listen to the archive of our TechTuesday here featuring AllSides’ student-focused programming, Mismatch.
They also shared the article, Is Civility a Bogus Concept After All?, which explores the challenging arguments around civility on if it’s possible and how it can be best utilized. You can read the article below and find the original on AllSides site here.
Brand New AllSides for Schools Website!
America, we need to talk. Our democracy is increasingly media-driven and polarized. How can we prepare young people?
We’re so excited to announce the launch of our brand-new AllSides for Schools website, featuring updated tools and resources to help students gain the media literacy and critical thinking skills they need to improve our democracy long-term.
We worked hard to launch our new Schools site, and we can’t wait for you to see it.
Featuring a clean new design, AllSides for Schools features nearly a dozen resources to make media literacy fun and engaging. Students can take AllSides’ bias quiz to find out where they fall on the Left-Center-Right political spectrum, then browse our Balanced Dictionary to see how people across the political spectrum define, think and feel differently about the same term or issue.
Plus, our Mismatch program and Civil Conversation Guides ensure students get the guidance they need to build relationships with people who are different from them. And it works — a whopping 92% of students who tried our Mismatch program said they better understood another person or perspective after just one conversation.
Through a revealing look at today’s news media and memorable experiences of respectful dialogue, AllSides for Schools equips students to navigate the complexities of modern media, social networks (on and offline), and personal relationships.
Join the 12,000 teachers and students in 47 states who are already using our tools every week. We hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we enjoyed making them.
You can check out the new Allsides for Schools website at www.allsidesforschools.org
Is Civility a Bogus Concept After All?
By Julie Mastrine
We built AllSides in part because we believe in the power of civility and civil discourse. AllSides helps people build relationships with those who are different from them, which we believe will ultimately improve our democracy.
But, could we be wrong? What if civility is actually a sham?
A TED Talk by political theorist Teresa Bejan raises this very question. Bejan studied and wrote a book about civility — particularly, religious tolerance in early modern England and America — because at the time, she thought that civility was, as she puts it, “bullsh*t.”
Yet how wrong she was.
After concluding her studies, Bejan learned “the virtue that makes un-murderous coexistence possible [in society] is the virtue of civility,” as she states in her TED Talk. “Civility makes our disagreements tolerable so that we can share a life together, even if we don’t share a faith — religious, political or otherwise.”
Still, she says, when most people talk about civility today, they are talking about something different than this. While civility is the virtue that “makes it possible to tolerate disagreement,” she says, “talking about civility [today] seems to be a strategy of disengagement — its like threatening to take your ball and go home when the game isn’t going your way.”
Often, she says, today’s “civility talk” is used as a way to “silence, suppress and exclude” those people we disagree with. (It’s a concept AllSides refers to as “tyranny of civility.”)
“Civility talk” or “tyranny of civility” gives people the feeling of the moral high ground while also allowing them to paint those they disagree with as offensive, or uncivil.
“Some people use “civility” when they want to communicate that certain views or people are beyond the pale, but they want to save themselves the trouble of actually making an argument,” Bejan says.
This is why some people (like Bejan in the past) roll their eyes at the call for civility.
“It seems like “civility talk” saves us the trouble of actually speaking to each other, allows us to talk past each other, signal our superior virtue, and let the audience know which side we’re on,” she says. In this way, “civility talk” can actually deepen divisions.
Instead of civility talk, Bejan argues we need what she calls “mere civility.” This type of civility is not the same thing as being respectful, because “we need civility precisely when we’re dealing with people we find it the most impossible to respect.” And it’s not the same as being nice, either — “because being nice means not telling people what you really think about them or their views.”
Mere civility means “speaking your mind, but to your opponent’s’ face, not behind her back…Being merely civil means pulling out punches but not landing them all at once.”
The point of civility, she says, is to allow us to “have fundamental disagreements without denying or destroying the possibility of a common life tomorrow with the people we think are standing in our way today.”
In this way, civility is closely related to courage.
“Mere civility is having the courage to make yourself disagreeable and to stay that way, but to do that while staying in the room and present to your opponents,” Bejan says. “If you’re talking about civility as a way to avoid an argument, as a way to isolate yourself in the more agreeable company of the like-minded who already agree with you, if you find yourself never actually speaking to anyone who fundamentally disagrees with you, you’re doing civility wrong.”
You can listen to Bejan’s TED Talk in full below.
You can read the original version of article on the Allsides Perspectives blog at www.allsides.com/blog/civility-bogus-concept-after-all.