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October 19, 2017

9/20/2017 1:59:00 PM
Room for a View: Civility, Please
By Peggy Tarr

“If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything... that smacks of discrimination or slander.”  (Mary McLeod Bethune; 1875-1955; American educator, philanthropist, humanitarian, and civil rights leader).

I spent a restless night before finally deciding to write about the following subject.  I was/am annoyed by a recent verbal attack on an Evanston citizen by an Evanston alderperson during the Citizen Comment section of a City of Evanston committee meeting.  I decided that I needed to remind citizens and alderpersons of the City of Evanston rule that is supposed to be followed during Citizen Comment.  The rule is: “Aldermen do not respond during Citizen Comment.  Citizen comment is intended to foster dialogue in a respectful and civil manner.” 

 “Aldermen” means “alderpersons” since women also hold aldermanic positions.

I communicated my annoyance with the verbal attack on the citizen with all alderpersons via email and specifically begged the alderperson who verbally abused the citizen to “desist from verbally attacking speakers during Citizen Comment.  Citizens should expect alderpersons to be courteous.”  Civility, please.

“Those who are at war with others are not at peace with themselves.” William Hazlitt, 1778-1830; English critic and essayist)

There is no excuse for an alderperson to verbally abuse a citizen during Citizen Comment even if an alderperson feels that the statements by the citizen are incorrect.  One hopes there is (will be) a way (rule) to censure an alderperson when an alderperson disobeys the rule about not responding during Citizen Comment.

Civility, please.

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