LOOSELEAF LAUREATE: Civilogues unite! We can make a difference

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By Terri Likens, Editor

A lot of colorful linguistic hybrids — portanteaus, if we must get technical about these accordion phrases — have emerged in recent times. Some that have been difficult to escape are:

• Staycation: Vacationing close to home because travel is expensive in tough economic times.

• Frenemy: A friend, partner or ally who is also a competitor or rival.

• Brangelina: I don’t even want to go there on this one.

I came across a new hybrid recently that I have readily embraced: civilogue.

Civilogue is the compression of the phrase “civilized dialogue.” Its meaning is this: “A civilized dialogue in which those in disagreement refrain from stooping to insults or knee-jerk generalizations.”

I nearly cheered when I came across the word.

It is credited to a man named Jeffrey Weiss, who has launched a campaign against political nastiness. I think such a campaign is long overdue.

Weiss, who writes for Politics Daily, has said enough is enough to slurs and untruths traded by partisans on the left and the right.

He has asked those who “still believe that the passion of our disagreements need not overwhelm the common values that bind us, to take back the rhetoric.”

Weiss has published a simple manifesto.

“To be wrong is not necessarily the same as to be evil,” he said. “Those with whom I disagree count among their number many whose love of country and adherence to moral standards are as admirable as can be found in many who stand on my side.”

To some extent, we’ve always had name-calling, slurs and knee-jerk generalizations.

But it has become increasingly worse over the past decade or so.

In part, I blame the anonymity provided in forums on the Internet. But this canker on civility is bigger than that.

I trace a change in public discourse to none other than the 9-11 terrorist attacks of 2001.

I remember feeling proud in the weeks after those attacks that our country was pulling together. Little did I realize that soon we would be pulling apart over the ramifications of that same event.

Why is civilogue important? Because if we can’t act civilized, we are no better than the people who are doing all they can to turn friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor. And I like my friends and neighbors — even those I disagree with.

Weiss has expanded his meaning of civilogue to include people who are willing to stand for respectful discussion and stand against irrational, angry debate.

“Civilogues unite!” he has proclaimed.

I have heard his call. I am marching with him

Won’t you join me?