“Civility is a Weapon Wielded by the Powerful”: NPR Employees Object to “Tone Policing”

NPR recently had to carry through on a long-announced series of layoffs due to a significant drop in revenue. The result was apparently a tense meeting with executives, according to Bloomberg, including accusations that the liberal outlet was racist and anti-trans in its selection of employees for termination. What was most interesting about the account were objections to “tone policing” and the claim that “civility is a weapon wielded by the powerful.” We have strived since the formation of this blog to encourage civility as a core value for our community. We have not been entirely successful, though I appreciate that the blog is better than most in the tenor of its commentary. It was, therefore interesting to see people in the media objecting to civility as a form of control by the powerful.

I have criticized NPR for its false reporting on issues like Hunter Biden, the whipping scandal at the border and other stories.  NPR declared recently that it would allow employees to participate in political protests when the editors believe the causes advance the “freedom and dignity of human beings.”

The laying off of 84 people created a firestorm and allegations that NPR failed to guarantee that people of color and trans people were not subject to greater terminations.

During the zoom call, CEO John Lansing objected to a black employee who was criticizing executives by name. Lancing said

“I would never, ever, on your worst day, call you out by name in a meeting with 827 people,” he said. “Let’s please keep in mind nobody is happy about this. Nobody is more unhappy about it than those affected, but certainly everybody in the company, beginning with me, this is the last thing we wanted to do.”

Some employees interpreted this as tone-policing and felt uncomfortable.

Lansing was denounced as “racist” and another staff member dropped a link to a segment from NPR’s Code Switch titled, “When Civility Is Used As A Cudgel Against People Of Color.” Still another wrote “Civility is a weapon wielded by the powerful.”

The referenced segment is based on the work of “Gaye Theresa Johnson, who studies the intersection of civility and race at the University of California, Los Angeles.” She explained that civility policing “allowed white citizens to, in effect, civilize people they considered less than.” It also featured the work of Rutgers professor Brittney Cooper who writes “about white reaction to black anger in her book Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower.” Cooper insists that civility standards simply constitute “preaching at black people about how they’re bad and how they’re ungrateful for being angry.”  In citing historical protests, the segment erases any distinction between advocacy and civility.

One could simply shrug this off as just desserts for an outlet that embraces “advocacy journalism,” and often fuels identity politics.  However, it is a sad example of how even civility is now being denounced as a tool of repression in our age of rage.

That is why I recently wrote about the outburst of Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., who screamed about gun control in the Capitol as colleagues left after a vote. Various Democratic members, including former House Majority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md, tried to calm Bowman. However, after Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky, asked him to stop yelling, Bowman shouted “I was screaming before you interrupted me,” which could now go down as the epitaph for our age.

70 thoughts on ““Civility is a Weapon Wielded by the Powerful”: NPR Employees Object to “Tone Policing””

  1. So did Trump wield civility when he was the powerful person on the planet? LOL, nope, he was lambasted for not being civil.

    But now that he’s gone, civility is a bad thing…

    1. Civility died a long time ago.
      It was murdered by the LEFT.
      There is not a republican presidential candidate in my lifetime that was not called a Nazi by the left.

      Trump was not Civil. Trump was exactly like those who attacked him.
      And that is precisely what the MAGA movement likes about him.
      It is also why DeSantis is their 2nd choice.

      Those not on the left have learned that being civil just means being a punching bag for the left.

      Trump punches back. That is why he is popular.

      That is also what you are and should be afraid of.

      If you do not succeed in taking Trump down – and that is unlikely.

      In 2025 he will be coming for you.

      And that is EXACTLY what many people want.

      You have bullied everyone else too long.
      Time for a big dose of your own medicine.

      Time to clean house.

      Turn about is fair play.

      I would suggest considering a line from Neitsche.

      “What does not kill me makes me stronger”.

      You are either going to “get Trump” – or he is going to “Get You”.
      My money is on Trump, not you.

      Or maybe a quote from Abraham Lincoln on hearing various criticism’s of Grant.
      ‘I can’t spare this man; he fights.’”

      What you dislike about Trump – is precisely why he is who is needed.

      Trump is Grant, He is Patton.
      When the left has declared war on the rest of us – what is needed is a warrior.
      They tend not to be civil.

      Civility did not defeat Hitler, or Mussolini.

  2. The Left is well-known for its lack of self-reflection. This one, though, is a real howler:

    “So you can consider me the “Socrates” of this blog. Like I say, I am a modest guy.”

    Thanks for the chuckle.

  3. To smear those who criticize Soros, and to whitewash his destructiveness, the Left accuses us of being antisemitic:

    “. . . the antisemitic crowd has raised the cry about “Soros backed Bragg’ . . .”

    Criticize a person because he is Jewish.

    You cannot criticize a person, because he is Jewish.

    Someone care to explain the difference?

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