What Civility Is and Is Not: A Commitment to Kindness Does Not Mean Surrendering Your Convictions

"Time and again I read about how bad things are now, how vile the left has become, and how a commitment to 'winsomeness' or kindness is simply inadequate to the moment.... sometimes seen as evidence of weakness or fear—an effort curry favor with people who hate you. But the conversation consistently misconstrues what commitments to civility and decency do and don’t mean" - David French

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Aaron Blumer's picture


French is widely misrepresented. This context may help a little.

By the time I hung up my litigation spurs, I think I may have sued more colleges and universities for violating the free speech rights of students and professors than any other lawyer in the United States. (Although I’m sure my record has been passed by now.) Shortly after I returned from Iraq, I was a keynote speaker at the Students for Life Conference, where my legal team and I pledged to represent—for free—any pro-life student anywhere in the country who faced a violation of their First Amendment rights. We kept that promise.

And—by God’s grace—we were remarkably successful. American law and policy has measurably changed as a result of our legal efforts. To take just one example, tens of millions of students have passed through universities more free from state censorship because we substantially diminished the speech code regime that previously dominated American campuses.

Throughout this entire period, our intentions were clear. We attack positions, not people. We speak the truth. We seek legal equality, not legal superiority. And we never, ever forget the humanity of our opponents. As best we could, this was how we tried to navigate the triple interlocking commands of Micah 6:8—to act justly, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. 

I respect that.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

JD Miller's picture

I don't have to agree with David French on every subject to really appreciate this article.