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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Civility and Historical Familiarity

For our form of government to escape the fate of the Roman Empire, civility, respect and a modicum of decorum must be the norm in all civic events. Personal attacks, offensive and degrading comments serve nothing more than to harden the sides, minimize options and sequester compromise.

When the present governance once again ignores logic, facts, pleas and even people becoming ill, some of those in disagreement react overtly and at times overreact improperly. Why?

If you have come to expect nothing different from your government, why the surprise and why the reaction? If they ignore your input, then why bother giving it?

By insisting on being subjected to the same indifference does not grant anyone the right to be impudent to any councilor. Disagree with them, find them contemptuous, report them to some impotent alphabet-soup agency or simply vote them out of office. Respect the office and afford respect (watch the new documentary on the Tate-Bianca murders and you will hear the parole committee address the murderer as 'Mr. Manson'). That is what makes this system sort of work.

If you are going to act uncivil when the present governance ignores you, stay at home, kick the dog, throw your remote at the TV or triple-up on the servings at the buffet. If you know you are going to be ignored in a forum where reason and proportion have died, simply don't go. Or go to be entertained (so exactly how did a $200,000 property next to a sewage treatment plant get on the agenda for $1,000,000 before the results came back from the appraisals that were contracted for without a priori council approval?)

On the other hand, castigating the citizens for booing is equally offensive, puerile and undemocratic. Booing is simply the opposite of applauding. If those that control public forums lack historical context to such an extent that they reprimand citizens for booing, then ban applauding. Just as well since other forms of free speech are banned.

We have more serious problems, so incivility is not catastrophic, just as Rome's downfall was exacerbated by worse political strife (the Bard's Julius Caesar anyone?), but it wasn't the cause of its demise. The predominant cause was lead poisoning in part from the potable water - the pipes (fistulae) that carried the water into the houses from the aqueducts were all lined with lead leading to plumbism. Oddly, the public works people knew about the effects but insisted that the dementia was caused by other factors, such as from wine.

Sound familiar?

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