From an Idaho Statesman article on civility by Butch Otter, former Republican governor of Idaho; Walt Minnick, former Democratic Congressman from Idaho; and Bill Manny, an independent and longtime Idaho journalist.
As chairs of an Idaho working group for the National Institute for Civil Discourse, we were asked by Idahoan Keith Allred, now the NICD’s director, to launch the nation’s first state affiliate. In public forums this winter, we shared the principles of civil discourse and respectful civic engagement with audiences in Lewiston and Twin Falls. Our statewide tour was cut short by the coronavirus, but we’ve witnessed firsthand the hunger Idahoans have for civil conversation and respectful engagement to address our many differences. Which is why it’s so troubling to see some people exploiting these troubled times. When times are hard, when so many of our friends and neighbors are hurt or scared or sick or alone, we all need to remember the importance of civil discourse and to exercise basic civic virtues. Political protest and nonviolent civil disobedience are time-honored ways to hold the powerful to account. But when those acts cross the line into harassing or menacing behavior, they stop being constructive. Showing up at the homes of police officers or the governor is not just counterproductive, it pulls law enforcement and other public resources away from the legitimate needs we face as a community.