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Civility in Palo Alto..and my New Years resolution.....

Original post made by Leslie, Palo Verde, on Jan 1, 2007

I have been reading posts and commenting for several months now. There has been much good discussion. I have looked forward to the new topics and learing more about the issues that concerned my neighbors. Many of them have been problems that I have shared.

What has troubled me is how often the discussion left the area of lively discourse and became negative, rude and hurtful. I realized that this issue is more general, not just in Palo Alto. I did a bit of online searching and found that the Pew Charitable Trust sponsored a study about civility in the US in 2002.

It is linked here:
Web Link

Not surprisingly, I am not the only one who thinks that our country is getting less civil. Its a pretty interesting study. According to this study, most of us think we are getting more rude but we agree that while we do not like it, we are participating in the increase in rudeness. We also find our children are getting less respectful. This is certainly a theme we have seen discussed here in the recent posts.

I, for one, am going to post a New Years resolution to be more polite and civil this year. So! Here it is....

I will try to always behave toward others in a way in which I would like to be treated. (I think the good old golden rule still covers most of this) and I will take a deep breath and re-read before hitting the 'submit'button'

Happy New Year,

Comments (9)

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Posted by Positron
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 2, 2007 at 9:03 am

I think this is a great resolution, Leslie, and I admire you for making it. I will join you, if I may, in this resolution and I hope that others will as well.

Happy New Year!

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Posted by Civitas
a resident of another community
on Jan 2, 2007 at 10:37 am

Here's to a bit more humility and a bit less ego in the public forum in 2007 ...

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Posted by Another Voice
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 2, 2007 at 10:54 am


Thanks for your posting. I share your concern and have tried to suggest the same point when participating in discussions on several threads. On some occasions, raising the civility issue has seemed to help temper the discussion. On other occasions, my advocay for greater civility has resulted in responses that claimed that I was trying to stifle discourse or that I misunderstood discourse for uncivility. As one who is passionate about the value of discourse and who attempts to do so in a civil manner, I'm not sure that your recommendation will be well received by all. However, raising the issue, as you have done, is a positive step and a great New Years resolution!

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Posted by Carol
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 2, 2007 at 11:59 am

Hear Hear

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Posted by Habenero
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 2, 2007 at 12:11 pm

" I, for one, am going to post a New Years resolution to be more polite and civil this year. So! Here it is....

I will try to always behave toward others in a way in which I would like to be treated. (I think the good old golden rule still covers most of this) and I will take a deep breath and re-read before hitting the 'submit'button' "

[Portion deleted by Palo Alto Online staff] You are going to lose is the colorful nature of human communication. Some people get easily offended - some don't get offended at all. You fall in the category of easily offended.
Imagine banning jalepenos from the super market !!!
No! I choose to be colorful.

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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 2, 2007 at 4:25 pm


The "colorful nature" of communication and the concept of politeness need not be mutually exclusive. We can certainly disagree with one another, show our passion & emotions, or otherwise refute or rebutt another's arguments while still maintaining civility and respect.

What in Leslie's post suggests that she is in the category of "easily offended"? For all I know, she could be the most thick-skinned person in town - but has tired of seeing the personal attacks and rude comments that we sometimes see in the postings.

I do not agree that following the Golden Rule would somehow diminish the quality of the discussions on this forum. Name-calling, labeling, and rudeness do not provide for more robust discourse.

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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 3, 2007 at 7:45 am

Hello All

As I see this, there is one big benefit from truly civil discourse: that we keep talking, really talking. I love that Palo Alto and the Bay Area and California are a swirling mix of different cultures, ideas, mores, values..etc. However, when these rub up against each other more often than not, things can get a bit hot!

Like Habenero, I too, like it hot! Thats why I live here. Palo Alto is a great place, it inspires passion (clearly!!!). I celebrate our differences. Now to keep our differences in the celebration camp and not the armed camp, I plan to be more conscious of my behavior and plan to sprinkle in more deep breaths, pauses and dialog.

As long as we keep talking and exchanging ideas we move forward.

Vive la difference!

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Posted by Max
a resident of Triple El
on Jan 3, 2007 at 9:00 am

Give me a break--this is just another example of PC run amuck in Palo Alto. When the champions of civility in PA feel the need they do all the things that you complain about (i.e. remember the labelling of large colorful houses as "taco Bell Homes" and "monster" homes. Remember during the leafblower discussion whne they were called "third world backpacks").
If you do not like someone's comments then skip the message--if it is really bad the moderators will delete it.
There is too much of this "any kind of criticism is a personal attack" mentality in this town.

Like this comment
Posted by SilverBullet
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2007 at 6:03 pm

I'm here to champion the middle ground. I don't think that a call for civility is in any way "PC run amuck." I think what Leslie is referring to is when people call each other "idiots" or say that a post was "stupid."

Of course, this board is constructed to its all the honor system. No one can force you to be civil, but I think it makes the discussion more productive if you address the issues, not the poster personally.

On the other hand, its quite entertaining to read when people really extend their claws. On the other hand of that, I think its important to remember that its quite easy to call people idiots or make fun of their socio-economic status (be it high, low or in the middle) when you are hiding behind an anonymous screen-name.

I think Leslie's idea is a good one. I think it improves our characters if we can engage in lively discussions without being overly negative and mean.

One thing I agree with Triple El about is that you can just read something without responding. Its hard to do that sometimes, however!

Happy new year, you bunch of spoiled-rich PC limousine liberal idiots!

Just kidding. Seriously, happy new year and lets all try to get along.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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