Everyone behaving badly

“Moderator dropped from green forum over NDP concerns”

The headline caught my eye.

I wonder what that’s all about?

There’s always a back story. When there’s an outrageous headline, it’s generally best to read the article – and read between the lines. Sensation headlines never tell the whole story, and rarely does the full article either.

What I read said the NDP objected to one of the moderators (one *of*, mind you – not the sole) on the panel because she had written critical columns about the party leader.

Now I can’t bring to mind those columns, so I can’t say in what way she was critical, but given they were published in the local newspaper, a reputable journalistic entity, I can’t imagine they were unrestrained personal attacks. Editors don’t want to be threatened with a libel suit.

So when did it become unacceptable to critique politicians?

On the other hand, another headline points to the problem of unrestrained opining: “Threats, abuse move from online to real world; McKenna now requires security.”

Badly behaved citizens are no longer content to hurl death wishes at Canada’s environment minister on Twitter. Now they’re hunting her down in person to threaten her family.

Give your head a shake, people!

We need to learn to disagree civilly.

It must be possible to say to someone else, “I think your ideas are ill-conceived” and even “your actions are not in keeping with high moral character” in as calm and measured a tone as that. It must be possible to hold differing opinions, and even to give a negative assessment or interpretation of facts without depending on invective or personal attacks.

And when that is achieved, or maybe even attempted, it must be accepted as legitimate, not shut down because it doesn’t feel good.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much hope for that as I came to the end of the article.

“Here’s a man who obviously is not ready to be premier and does not like strong women,” said the spurned moderator of the political leader who objected.

Offended that he took her critiques personally, she turns around and makes it personal.

It’s not easy to stay calm and unruffled, but let’s aspire to it. Bad behaviour is so ubiquitous; let’s try standing out by showing kindness.

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