Is Civility Dead? From false accusations to character attacks, will we ever regain decency?

Ryan Young, Editor-In-Chief

With the midterms officially over and the House majority now held by the Democrats, it is important that our country begins to work together and listen to one another without shouting or engaging in name calling. Civilization requires civility. In an era where false accusations can destroy a person’s career, where a single tweet can cause the death of a depressed soul, where a malicious lie can destroy an entire family’s reputation, where a victim of sexual assault can be viewed a liar, it is more important than ever to regain basic decency and end the divisiveness hurting our country.

When did it become acceptable to hurt another person by creating lies or spreading rumors? When did it become acceptable to attack a person’s reputation? When did it become acceptable to bring another person down in an effort to raise oneself up? Anger and gridlock are not the answers. We must learn to coexist and listen to one another.

Our country was founded upon truth, upon decency, upon respect for one another, yet we no longer are able to have a civil conversation. We see elected representatives such as Ted Cruz, Sarah Sanders and Nancy Pelosi being followed and shouted down at restaurants. We see hate groups espousing evil ideologies such as ISIS and the Alt Right. We see cruel acts of brutality taking place under the veil of peace such as Antifa. We see students on both college and high school campuses unable to engage in a discourse free from name calling. We see our country becoming polarized and hateful. We see civility dying in our daily lives.

What is civility? It seems people have forgotten what it means to be civil. They no longer understand what the word means because it is becoming less and less “popular.” According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, civility is defined as civilized conduct especially politeness, courtesy, or a polite act or expression. I personally like to define it as the manner in which a person or group of people communicate with a basic level of respect and decency towards the other person.  

America is the place where a person regardless of race, religion, creed, or background, can be free to believe, to pursue, and to contribute. It is the place where people can debate and discuss important issues that impact the entire world. Why then are we silencing one another? Why are we denying ourselves the freedom this country has to engage in a civil conversation that brings people together to overcome an obstacle taking place in the world?

It is because we refuse to listen to one another, we refuse to admit that we are wrong, and we are unable to step out of our own preconceived beliefs and ideas. We are our party, and we refuse to think for ourselves or look at both sides of an argument. We rush to judgment and refuse to analyze and interpret the information and facts presented.

 The case of Justice Brett Kavanaugh is a prime example.

A well-respected judge in public service for decades was nominated to the highest court in the land, only to become a high profile target in a political war. Both Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who was forced into the public light to become his accuser, were harmed in the process that played out before the world on live television. When Ford’s allegations of attempted sexual assault were released in violation of a confidentiality agreement, she was forced to stand before the Senate Judiciary Committee to present an account of an event in high school that could not be corroborated or explained with the specificity necessary to convince many people of its truth. While it seemed clear Dr. Ford suffered, she was unable to establish that her suffering was at the hands of the highly esteemed nominee to the United States Supreme Court.

For his part, Kavanaugh was compelled to defend himself — without being given the most basic presumption of innocence. A heart-broken Kavanaugh unequivocally denied the charges, and provided lengthy testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his life and his dedication to honoring God and respecting women.

“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. You’ve tried hard. You’ve given it your all. No one can question your effort, but your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name and to destroy my family will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never,” Kavanaugh said.

Throughout his testimony viewers witnessed the shame and pain these accusations had placed on Kavanaugh’s entire family. Viewers watched as a God fearing and truth seeking man was forced to discuss his sexual activity as a teen, his childhood inside jokes, and his definition of sexual assault. Teary eyed and full of emotion, Kavanaugh poured out his heart.

While senators used this humiliating situation to grandstand in an effort to advance their own political agenda or prospects for reelection before the midterms, both Ford and Kavanaugh were humiliated.

Similarly, a local high school male teen was accused of sexual assault by five females in his high school in Butler County PA. According to the parents of the accused who have filed a federal lawsuit, these girls created false allegations and presented false statements to the school and law enforcement. One of the girls accused the young man of sexually assaulting her at the local community pool where he was the lifeguard. This young man was fired from his job and labeled a predator by the students at his school. Later, he was accused again for sexual assault, this time resulting in him being physically removed out of the school in cuffs to a Juvenile Detention Center. This young man lost his job, was publically humiliated, kicked off his baseball team, and removed from his school. Multiple accusers are coming forward and admitting that they lied.

These two examples depict the consequence of false accusations or coerced testimony. Worse than the immediate damage caused on the falsely accused or coerced victim, is the major impact it has on future victims. Sexual assault is a serious issue that can harm a victim for a lifetime, and these false accusations cast disbelief on legitimate claims that deserve prosecution.

So with the end of the midterm election and the start of a divided government lets come together as Americans regardless of political party, race, gender, or social class to unite our divided government. Lets begin to listen to one another by showing civility and engaging in a civil discourse that actually focuses on solving problems and reaching solutions. Let’s think for ourselves without rushing to judgment. It is time to unite our divided country.