Un-Civil Discourse: Have We Forgotten How to Agree to Disagree? by Kristan Wager
Our country was founded on the idea that there are certain rights for all people. In our Constitution, the First Amendment assures us that the "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." However, in our 24-hour opinion-driven news cycle, we seem to have forgotten this freedom.
Have you tried to disagree with public opinion lately? It seems as though the only opinions that matter are the ones that shout the loudest. Disagree with a Facebook post and be unfriended, or 'trolled', the new phenomena where bots create disagreement in the comments.
Our history also contains proud examples of editorials, debates and town hall meetings where ideas are challenged and debated. Some of our finest speeches come from dissent. Think "I have a dream" by Martin Luther King or Abraham Lincoln: "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
We cannot tear each other down and expect peace. Civil discourse allows debate and discussion and germinates policy and social change. Angry epitaphs and curses do not promote change. Respect, facts and civility are the change agents.
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