It was not so long ago that Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., called President Obama a liar during a joint session of Congress in 2009. And that's just one of a myriad examples that the political rhetoric in Washington is not always polite. But is extreme rhetoric actually poisoning political debate and threatening democracy?
A new academic center in Boston thinks so. It's called the Center for Civil Discourse at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and on Friday it will be hosting a national forum on "Civility and American Democracy." Those titles speak for themselves. (Full disclosure: WBUR is a forum partner.)
So does there need to be a reset in how we respect one another in the public square? Or are there issues of such importance that being civil is simply beside the point?
- Ira Jackson, advisory board chair, Center for Civil Discourse at UMass Boston.
- John Stauffer, professor of English and African American studies, Harvard University.
- Schedule of events for "Civility and American Democracy," Friday, February 17.
This segment aired on February 16, 2012.