Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011

Ruth Simmons

I think it's too broad a condemnation to endorse. I think it's definitely true that the prominence and extent of uncivil behavior has been increasing. And when I say prominence, I mean that we've always had individuals who are given to extreme and uncivil discourse and behavior. What is disturbing, I think, is the prominence of the people engaging in this behavior, and because they are prominent, they tend to evoke great emotion, and to a certain extent, great support. I'm always concerned about what exists in the public sphere that encourages young people — whose minds and ideals are still developing — to engage in antisocial behavior. So my concern is that we tone down the rhetoric, that we cease the incessant vilification of others based on their beliefs. I think it does have very, very damaging effects on young people.