This week Time dedicates itself to the Gabrielle Giffords incident, with a wide array of of features on the tragedy, including a section that asks the question, “Are we becoming an uncivil society?” The magazine poses this inquiry to 16 people in the media, education and political realm, and the answer is mostly “no.” As Tom Brokaw says:
I think that’s a very sweeping conclusion – one that I would be reluctant to make. My hope is that we would begin to have a dialogue in this country about the importance of civility.
Peter Singer, a Professor of Bioethics at Princeton agrees, and says that we shouldn’t be asking ourselves about civility, we should be asking ourselves about gun laws:
I don’t think you can totally generalize from one act to a society as a whole – that would be too much of a judgment. To me the more significant aspect is that we allow people to get guns so easily, and not just any guns but semi-automatics, which can kill a large number of people in a very short time.
The obvious answer to the question from Time is no, like most of the people polled said. When something so tragic happens, it’s tempting to jump to conclusions and start labeling it the end of the world, but that wouldn’t be right. The rhetoric from politicians and the media definitely needs to be examined in order for us to move forward, but there’s no sense in asking if we’re going to fall before we even begin to walk.