Civility loses an advocate

The Civility Project, led by R. Mark DeMoss, a conservative evangelical Christian Republican and Lanny Davis, a liberal Jewish Democrat, was built on a Civility Pledge—

  1. I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.
  2. I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.
  3. I will stand against incivility when I see it.

—which is completely familiar to Coffee Partiers.  The Project garnered “thousands” of  signatures by “people from all walks of life,” but when invitations to sign the pledge were sent to the 535 members of Congress and the 50 state governors, only three—Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Reps. Frank Wolf and Sue Myrick—agreed. In his letter to the three announcing that the Civility Project was closing down, DeMoss wrote

I must admit to scratching my head as to why only three members of Congress, and no governors, would agree to what I believe is a rather low bar. …

I’m worried about where we’re headed as a country on the civility scale. I’d be more worried if I were an elected representative at any level.

This letter is dated January 3, so it was written before the Tucson atrocity, which has touched off a (mostly civil) national dialogue on the rampant political incivility. The letter continues,

Perhaps one of the most surprising results of this project has been the tone and language used by many of those posting comments on our website and following articles on various media websites about the project. Many of them could not be printed or spoken in public media due to vulgar language and vicious personal attacks. Sadly, a majority of these came from fellow conservatives.

It’s worth noting, however, that the vast majority of the 285 comments on the site itself are both civil and positive.

About Hamilton Richards

I retired in 2006 as a Senior Lecturer in Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. These days I volunteer technical support for Citizens' Climate Lobby (Austin chapter), Common Ground for Texans, (, Integrity Texas (, and several friends.
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