Combined with being an election year, corona, the tragic yet pivotal murder of George Floyd, shootings, virtual award shows, and Zoom university; being civil relied on the virtual space more than ever in 2020.
Merriam-Webster defines Civility as “a civilized conduct, especially: courtesy. Politeness.” It defines civilized as “characteristic as a state of civilization, especially: characterized by taste, refinement, or restraint.”
In the United States, October was the final stretch for the chaotic programming that was the Presidential Election. “Who could be more civilized than the leaders of our country?” one might assume.
But it’s reported that during the second and final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Trump interrupted 50 times while Biden interrupted 37 times. The infamous “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking” from the debate between Vice President Kamala Harris and Mike Pence brought about the intersection of civility and gender.
If not in the White House, then where is this model of civility? What is the “right way” to speak up?
After a year of substantial coverage of the protests (and aftermath) for Black Lives Matter, the topic of not what you were protesting, but how one was protesting, came up frequently. There seemed to be some sort of discussion of the proper and civilized way to protest versus… an improper way to protest, I guess?
The January riots at the Capitol building brought about the claim that it was incited online, by President Trump himself. Now we have to point fingers at the space with ever-changing rules: social media. Is there a correlation between censorship and civility online? Who governs this? Throughout the BLM protests in response to George Floyd’s murder in 2020; it’s reported that police forces used online surveillance to find participants of the protests and arrest them. But the Capitol riots were planned for weeks online in broad daylight, and law enforcement was somehow unprepared to deal with it. Where is the surveillance that came in so handy back in June of 2020? (It was recently revealed that law enforcement was advised to use minimal force before the riots even occurred).
The protests and the Capitol riots demonstrate this double standard of civility that already exists in society.
Even as I write this, protests are sparking up around the city for Adam Toledo, a 13-year old Latino boy who was shot and killed by CPD on March 29th. The resurgence of protests is primarily due to the bodycam footage of the shooting that was released recently. The officer can be heard telling Adam to put his hands up, and after he complies, the officer still shoots him. (NOTE: The details of this case are still ongoing and developing). There have been instances where people have not complied and were still detained alive; why wasn’t this grace granted to Adam Toledo?
When it comes to this country, especially for Black and Brown people, the sentiment: “You may never be civilized in people’s eyes, no matter what you do” speaks volumes to the hypocrisy of civility.
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