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Respect and Civility are Rights

January 17, 2011

The tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Arizona has been a national tregedy not only because of the senseless deaths and personal injuries, but also because it has been another blow to our freedom – our right to peaceful assembly – and has affected our feeling of security. Although the act itself appears to be that of a mentally ill person, many other factors contribute to the current climate of toxic discourse: the willingness that some have to look the other way when others disregard the expectations of a civil society, the virulence of the rhetoric that comes over the airwaves, and the readiness with which many seek solutions through violence. Our nation continues to struggle to find balance between freedom of speech and civility. We try to answer this at Saint Joseph College by espousing and promoting the values of the Sisters of Mercy, particularly hospitality, tolerance, and respect for others. But we need to do more both inside and outside of our College community.

Iti is not enough to have sympathy. We should have the courage to take a stand. I hope that each of us will hold ourselves and others to higher standards. We should not ignore rudeness and disrespect of others, but instead speak up in the face of ignorance, hostility, and violence.

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