Saturday, March 31, 2007

Veneer of Civility

Recently the debate about continued censorship of submissions to the list serve of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association has heated up again, after a rash of posts were refused, and one lovely and well respected lady was coerced into apologising for stating her (very polite) opinion about development in lower Cambridgeport.

Several of my posts have been rejected, and I have often been called a liar in so many words by none other that the President of the CNA as well as other CNA board members, and then not allowed to respond with documented evidence of facts supporting my submissions, therby allowing list serve members to be mis informed at the whim of the list serve moderators and CVA board.

Board members reqularly talk trash, make false accusations, and even call people "paraniod" etc, when views and opinions posted differ from their own, and allow other list serve members to bash those with different opinions, even when it breaks the rules. The Board then attempts to instruct others on "civil discourse" and how to be a "good neighbor."

Recently I had to inform the president of the CNA that if my submission was not posted I would post it on my blog, send it a a letter to the editor to the Chronicle and post it in Dana Park. After a standoff, my submission was posted.

A board member, who moderates the list serve recently posted this re censorship on the CNA list serve in response to many, and I repete many complaints of censorship of ideas under the guise of breaking the rules...

I would not characterize what the moderators of this list are doing as censorship. But if that's the word some would like to use, so be it.

The only motivation of rejecting certain posts is to conform with the purpose of this list is as stated on the home page: "This group is designed to be a forum for issues related to the Cambridgeport Neighborhood. Issues of note include
development, community meetings and/or events, crime alerts, etc."That shouldn't be confusing. It is a forum to share information pertinent to the neighborhood, and to discuss in a civil manner those issues.

The list must not serve as a forum where individuals are insulted. If that is how a member decides to write
in a posting, that post may be rejected.

Marco Werman

Here is my most recent submission, and which breaks no rules. It has not been posted, even though many others submitted after I submitted mine were posted. Now, why would this be? When the list serve announced it would delay posting submissions to make sure the one per day limit was observed, it promised no censorship. Now many posts are censored, and for no way for list serve mambers to see just what is not allowed. In fact, my most recent submission discusses, in a most civil way, the dangers of censorship in a democracy.

The Veneer Of Civility

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 08:46:48 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kathryn Podgers
Subject: Veneer of Civility

Hi Folks, genuine civility being rare, some adopt a veneer of civility to promote their adgenda, even to the detriment or the community. Surely, there must be a forum, in a democracy, where the open exchamge of ideas is not only "permitted" but welcome. Free Speech is not the issue, the issue is self government. Not exclusive cliques excluding others by invoking arcane "rules" under a veneer of civility, which hides the basest of all human weakness, the notion that "I am your better, because I have a better education, more money, bigger car, more esteemed title." And excluding others using the veneer of civility in group settings by projecting onto others, that they are not really welcome, because they are inferior to the civilized elite.

Objections to abuses delivered by this sham include claiming one is not "behaving" and calling the police to remove the "violent" individual. We saw this during the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's, and we saw this when our neighbor, Eli Yarden was falsly accused of not speaking to an adgenda item, when in fact he was. Under the colour of law, to enforce the "rules" and preserve the veneer of civility, the mayor of our City, with the reporters all watching, and even the invited school children enthralled by this improbable action, called the police to remove the offender, an 83 year old man, who had broken no rules, was speaking on an agenda item, and, unlike many of the City Councillors, who remained covered by their thin veil of the Veneer of Civility, knew what the adgenda item was about and was articulating his educated opinion acording to the rules.

One cannot expect to wear the veil if one also wants to remain silent when vile acts are perpetrated publically. To remain silent in the face of oppression of an individual in the public areana, makes one a silent partner of the oppressors, and lends support to this form of use of force to perpetrate a crime against civil discourse, a crime against humanity, and human sensibilities.

One cannot remain silent when another uses the veneer of civility under the colour of law to violate our most hard one liberties.

Here in CNA group, some of those who cry foul the loudest, how invoke the veil against others, are often the worst attackers when they wish to be. So, we also get to see "the pot call the kettle black."

Much has been writen about the veneer of civility, and the best is probablly the Eisenhower paper re Civil Rights. The worst abuser in my life was probabally McCarthy, who destroyed the lives of many good people, before the rest of congress finally overcame the gag of the veneer of civility and put an end to the witch hunt. below, please find a definition, and a section of a collegiate paper discussing this issue.

Take care

The VENEER OF CIVILITY...a definition and an interesting discussion...

"We have avoided fighting and discourtesy.

We have kept up a facade of good manners at the cost of not accomplishing much."

A frequently cited reason for communication difficulties is the veneer of civility that pervades faculty interactions. Faculty often appear unwilling to pursue issues that may be divisive or provoke debate. Unpleasantness is avoided at all costs.

Unfortunately, as several of those interviewed stated, this often means that the most crucial issues facing the department are never discussed. One faculty member, explaining why the department had not made changes in the curriculum in 20 years, said, "I think we are afraid to look at it [the curriculum] because of the big fights over what should be required."

Another professor noted, "By not discussing departmental policy we don't disagree too much - on the surface." Relations may seem calm, but this calm is achieved at the expense of common purpose and community.


At Saturday, March 31, 2007 7:52:00 PM, Blogger Diogenes said...

The pattern you describe was portrayed in the film "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie."
It is a problem with academics, PR flacks, journalists, and especially among politicians.
Roy Bercaw


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