Lack of Civility and the Spread of COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 is examined through the prism of civility. 

For two causes, an emphasis on civility is important. For starters, the idea of civility is often discussed in public forums. 

In a variety of situations in public life, society wants individuals to behave in a certain way. Some people are fast to accuse those who are found to have broken these rules of conduct of being uncivil. 

As American football player Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to demonstrate economic and social inequality, US President Donald Trump deemed the gesture uncivil and insensitive. 

'You have to stand respectfully for the national anthem otherwise you shouldn't be performing, you shouldn't be there, maybe you shouldn't be in the world,' Trump suggested. ‘[t]hat is a complete disrespect to our heritage,' he said. 

That is a complete betrayal of everything we stand for.' Trump was enraged by Kaepernick's words, and he voiced his approval when former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife left the stadium in Indianapolis as part of a counter-protest before an ers-Colts NFL game. 

Accusations of incivility have been levelled at Kaepernick on a regular basis. However, his situation raises a crucial question: can we all be polite to one another? ‘When civility leads to suicide, revolting is the only moral reaction,' Kaepernick recently argued. 

Often it's necessary to be uncivil in order to bring attention to and combat inequality, particularly when other methods aren't (or are no longer) efficient. Another high-profile US event occurred recently when the owner of a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia begged former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to quit. Several LGBTIQ+ waitstaff members objected to her support for President Trump's anti-transgender policy. In an era of outrage and polarized politics, the event posed critical concerns about moral and pragmatic decision-making. 

Those in favor of the move saw it as justified in light of the administration's breach of moral values of fair respect for all citizens—a central level of civility. 

Right-wing commentators, on the other hand, saw the restaurateur's behavior as uncivil, though telling Huckabee Sanders to leave the premises went against generally accepted politeness norms. This breakdown of civil trade has the potential to have far-reaching consequences. 

Both sides identified the other's violations of civility standards, but both centered on a different aspect of civility. This leads to the second explanation for emphasizing civility: the concept's disputed existence in academic literature, especially in political theory and philosophy. 

Second, there is controversy about what civility entails (and therefore incivility). Second, even though people agree on the definition of (in)civility, they can disagree on whether individual incidents of speech or behavior should be classified as civil or uncivil depending on that definition. 

So, what does civility entail? 

Existing scholarly work offers a variety of conceptions of the term, all of which are at odds with one another. However, there are two key points of view. 

On the one hand, civility is often correlated with courtesy and politeness standards: to be respectful in this context means speaking and acting in accordance with these standards. 

In the other hand, it is related to the concept of high-mindedness: to be civil in this second sense implies to demonstrate a devotion to the public benefit, rather than only one's own personal or sectarian interests, and to regard others as free and equal. 

When we defend political laws, we have a "duty of civility" to only refer to public motives (i.e. reasons that our fellow citizens can recognize and find persuasive). 

This second understanding of civility is famously captured by John Rawls' argument that we have a "duty of civility" to only appeal to public reasons (i.e. reasons that our fellow citizens can understand and find persuasive). 

Although, as we'll see, civility as public-mindedness can also be interpreted in a non-justificatory context, implying that we don't treat people in discriminatory or hateful ways. 

We consider politeness and public-mindedness aspects of civility, which will help concentrate on how COVID-19 tests our desire to be respectful while still providing chances for people to discover new ways to be civil to one another in these trying times.

You may also want to read more analysis about the COVID-19 Pandemic here.