From the pundits to the polls, nearly everyone seems to agree that US politics have rarely been more fractious, and calls for a return to “civil discourse” abound. Yet it is also true that the requirements of polite discourse effectively silence those who are not in power, gaming the system against the disenfranchised. What, then, should a democracy do?
In this book, William Keith and Robert Danisch make a case for understanding civility in a different light. Distinguishing it from politeness, they claim that civil argument must be redirected from the goal of political comity to that of building and maintaining relationships of minimal respect in the public sphere.
This virtual book club event will be hosted in partnership with the Penn State University Libraries and the Penn State University Press. The first half will be a Q&A session with the authors, followed by smaller group discussions in Zoom breakout rooms. Reading the book is not required to attend — we welcome anyone who wants to explore the topic of civility in democracy and public discourse.