(re-posted by request from my blog at HTTP://avri.doria.org)

I try to be PC. I try to be civil. But I don.t believe in either. In fact I think the requirement to be either PC or civil, which is becoming more and more a hallmark of US interactions, is dangerous and a really bad idea. And it is an idea that is taking grip of ICANN.

If your comments make someone uncomfortable, they aren.t civil.

If your comments drive someone else to incivility, you have been uncivil.

The accusation of incivility is being used to stop dissent, to force those who view the world differently to stifle themselves. It has become uncivil to disagree. It has become uncivil to argue using emphatic language.

If it was just social approbation, I would be fine with it. People are allowed to think what they want and even allowed to say what they want – including that some one is being un-PC or uncivil. But now, the accusation of incivility is enough to get you barred, even perhaps enough to get you disciplined.

It used to be that there were a few rules for discourse – either on line or in real life:

– no name calling, no ad-hominem, no calling someone Stalin

– no using up all the bandwidth

– no discrimination on the basis of anything

These were objective rules where someone could clearly state what someone had done wrong. And pretty much everyone else could nod in assent. These were accusations that could withstand the sniff test.

The civility rules on the other hand are subjective. My view of civility does not necessarily match someone else’s view of civility.

For example:

* I consider patronizing behavior and condescension uncivil.

* I consider using a professional therapeutic voice and treating someone like a client, who isn.t a client, uncivil

* I consider pathologizing people by calling them passive-aggressive, and other DSM IV derived adjectival terms to be uncivil.

But so what?

That is the way some talk. That is the way some people behave and I must learn to be tolerant.

Speaking of tolerance, I consider this paramount in public discourse, on email lists and in face to face interactions. Tolerance means understanding people.s frustrations may lead to strong language. It means understanding cultural differences that may have them say things that appear rude in my point of view. It means accepting the bits of incivility I may feel or perceive from time to time. It means not putting my inner feelings and sensitivities above the behavior of others.

Tolerance used to be one of the top rules of netiquette. We seem to have lost that one along the line.

What I would like to see is more tolerance and fewer rules that subject people to the subjective civility monitors among us.


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