Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy

By Stephen L. Carter | Go to book overview

7
The Demon on the Other Side

I ADMIT IT: I am in love with democracy. I have even run for office a few times, with what the professionals call mixed results. As an eighth-grader, I ran for secretary of the student council, and won. As a junior in college, I ran for editor of the campus paper, and lost. Along the way, I served as president of my junior high school's stamp club and, in high school, of the chess club and the Diplomats Club (our debate society), as well as editor of the paper--although, if memory serves, I was awarded most of these posts because nobody else wanted them. (I am not sure the stamp club even had any other members.) Nevertheless, I want here to certify that in each of these contests, whether I won or lost, I ran a clean campaign. Even in my closest electoral battle, the eighth- grade student council contest that was decided by the absentee ballots cast by upperclassmen who were off on a field trip the day of the vote, I kept to the same high standard: I was never nasty. Not only did I not attack my opponent, I never even mentioned my opponent. To do so would have been wrong . . . but, more important to the thirteen-year-old I then was, it would have been against the rules.

What rules? The school's rules. For we had actual discipline in the public schools in those days, and along with the discipline came censorship of nearly everything. The old doctrine of in loco parentis--that the school authorities acted in the place of parents, with much of the same discretion--was firmly in place. Quite apart from the classes on morals and deportment that appeared at the end of the nineteenth century, the schools of my youth, like

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Civility: Manners, Morals, and the Etiquette of Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • I - The Collapse of the Three-Legged Stool 1
  • I - Barbarians Running Late 3
  • 2 - Do Manners Matter? 20
  • 3 - The Death of the Golden Age 38
  • 4 - Welcoming the Stranger 55
  • 5 - The Embarrassment of Free Will 76
  • 6 - Sacrifice and Neighbor-Love 96
  • II - Incivility's Instruments 113
  • 7 - The Demon on the Other Side 115
  • 8 - The Varieties of (not) Listening 132
  • 9 - Fighting Words 148
  • 10 167
  • II - Some Technologies of Incivility 186
  • 12 - Law, Tolerance, and Civility's Illusions 207
  • III - Civilizing the Twenty-First Century 227
  • 13 - Where Civility Begins 229
  • 14 - Uncivil Religion 249
  • 15 - Civility and the Challenge of Christendom 265
  • 16 - The Etiquette of Democracy 277
  • 17 - Coda: the Civility of Silence 287
  • Notes 293
  • Index 333
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