by Dan Ward
I joined in an intriguing, and at times heated, online conversation with a number of public relations colleagues this weekend regarding the lack of civility in recent political discourse.
While it may be easy to blame politicians and pundits for the rise in political hate-speak, are they really at fault or are they simply parroting back the language they hear from us every day?
As I read through my Facebook timeline, I see friends who have no problem calling all Republican candidates despicable human beings filled with hate and a burning desire for war. I see others who mock the President as feeble, and his potential successor as the “Hillabeast.” I see assumptions and generalizations that justify open ridicule of anyone holding opposing views. And I sometimes see myself engaging in this same behavior.
Folks, if the politicians and pundits are giving sound bites that mirror hateful comments on anonymous message boards, WE are the ones to blame. And those of us who communicate for a living have a responsibility to fix the problem, rather than become part of it.
Let’s agree to politely disagree, rather than spitefully disparage. Let’s stop responding to the often frightful comments from those on the extreme left and right, and stop assuming that the extremists speak for everyone who identifies as “conservative” or “liberal.”
When we see or hear generalizations, when we see conversations devolve into name-calling, when our “friends” use social media to publicly ridicule those with whom they disagree, let’s speak up and lead by example.
When it comes to political discourse, we have become a message-board generation. We can, and must, be better than that.