Civil Discourse Needed for Fruitful Debate

U-T San Diego -- Larry Hinman, a professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego, writes often about ethics. He is a member of the U-T Community Advisory Council.

When Rush Limbaugh attacked law student Sandra Fluke for her support of President Obama’s inclusion of public support for contraception in his national health plan and suggested that, if she were entitled to public funding for contraception, he was entitled to watch the videos of her sexual activity, he crossed a line, violating the limits of civility. Mr. Limbaugh may not merit further attention, but the line itself does. It is important to understand where and why that line about civility is drawn and why it is diminishing in importance. It is not a line enforced from above by some governmental overseer, but rather one that properly comes from below, from a citizenry concerned about the quality of its own political life. Civility is the foundational virtue of civic life. (Full Story