There’s a time-worn cliche that states “it’s OK to disagree, but don’t be disagreeable.”
Where there’s social interaction, there will be disagreement. We’d live in an awfully boring world if everyone agreed on every issue. And we’d lose an element of best-thinking creativity that can be forged only when opposing factions accept elements of each others’ ideas.
The problem we face: many in America, South Carolina and York, Lancaster and Chester counties have moved more and more toward being “disagreeable.” It comes in many forms, from face-to-face confrontation to online vitriol, to road rage, and it’s harmful.
In the past two months, we’ve had a Rock Hill teen who was killed after an argument that started on Facebook escalted into a brawl that ended in gunfire. That all happened a little over a week ago. And it wasn’t the first Facebook exchange in this region that led to a violent, physical confrontation.
In May, a candidate for political office in Montana physically attacked a reporter who asked a question the candidate didn’t like. The candidate was campaigning for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives – and won. Think about that for moment. A man physically attacked another man in front of witnesses on the eve of an election, and the next day he’s in Congress.
There was a furor last week, when a tweet from President Donald Trump included a doctored video that portrayed him attacking a person whose face was obscured by the letters “CNN.”
These are a few examples, but there are others.
At The Herald, we believe it’s time for truly civil discourse – with an emphasis on civil, as in courteous and polite.
We invite readers to join in our discussions. Call us. Send e-mail. Like us on Facebook and comment on stories and opinion pieces. Use whatever medium you enjoy. We believe the First Amendment is to be honored and exercised. Without it, we face the dangers to which failed and dysfunctional governments have fallen prey.
It’s also time for respect.
If you disagree with a viewpoint, that is your right. When you allow your viewpoint to become a weapon for simply hurling insults, causing emotional damage or indulging a craving to be mean-spirited, you harm our First Amendment freedom.
And that’s not civil discourse.
Tuesday, we celebrated Independence Day and all the freedom we’ve inherited from our forefathers. Now let’s honor them in another way. Let’s aim for a higher purpose as we exercise our rights to free speech as citizens of this city, state and country.
Herald opinion pages
The Herald will publish three opinion pages per week. On Tuesdays, we will continue to publish Palmetto Opinion for its statewide perspective. On Saturdays and Sundays, we will publish opinion pages with local, state and national commentary. And we encourage you to visit heraldonline.com for updated editorial commentary and cartoons.