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It does strike me

May 15, 2009

MissManners

that if the only argument others can make against your position is that you are exhibiting bad manners — you are “rude,” “uncivil,” “churlish” — isn’t that virtually an admission that you are correct?

Rude, but correct.

Well, and what about that? No Canadian, particularly no New Brunswicker, wants to be considered unmannerly. The thought shakes us to the core. But are there not times when it is more important to speak the truth, even if that means ruffling some egos? Are there not times when the choice is between being, um, blunt (okay, even rude) or being complicit through silence and inaction?

No-one who is confident of their actions should fear being questioned about them. In a real civil society, people are not fearful of speaking out. A real civil society welcomes frank and open discussion; it allows — it depends on — the full participation of its citizens. In a real civil society, those who bully or try to shut down dissent are not tolerated. In a real civil society, there are not repercussions when people exercise their right to speak.

Let’s not accept false notions of “civility” that actually mask inequities. Let’s not let false notions of “politeness” prevent us from standing up for what is right, or pointing out what is wrong.

Let’s really be civil.

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