Letter: Being civil doesn’t mean being silent

Editor,

We’d like to respond to Tom Strang’s letter to the editor saying that “civility” isn’t in the First Amendment, and that he has “found it to be a Trojan horse of censorship.”

He went on to say that “there is the value in freedom of speech, discussion and debate.”

Civility First values very much freedom of speech, discussion and debate. Making it possible in these fractious times is exactly why we developed our pledge. Mr. Strang is expressing a common impression that “civility” asks us to be silent.

On the contrary, if you read our July 3 letter to the editor on civility and anger, civility makes it possible to exercise your First Amendment rights in strong and persuasive ways.

I invite Mr. Strang and everyone in Island County to attend our Civility Month event on Oct. 14, where two authors will describe “weak civility” (being polite instead of saying what’s on your mind), “pseudo-civility” (pretending to be polite, but actually being uncivil) and “strong civility” (staying respectful while stating your opinion/beliefs so that others can really hear them). This and other Civility Month events might help remind us all that civility is a powerful tool for using our First Amendment rights without violating others’. We’d also invite everyone to check out our pledge and see if it isn’t how we’d all like others to communicate with us. We thank Mr. Strang for bringing up this common misconception, and invite him, and everyone, to check out our Civility Month events at www.civilityfirst.org

Civility First board members

Kate Bracy, Edie Nelson-Surface, Sandi Peterson and Cathy Whitmire, Clinton

Charles Terry, Langley

Gary Wray, Oak Harbor

Charlotte Fairfield, Coupeville

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