Sunday, December 24, 2006


Many of my readers believe that civility and candor are not mutually exclusive.

"One may only be civil when one is candid," writes Mary Beth Harris of Charlotte, N.C. To be anything less than honest, she adds, "is the biggest sign of disrespect one can bestow on another."

E. Carroll Straus of Orange County, Calif., draws a distinction between candor and "mean-spiritedness or bullying."

While Debbie Billings of Corona, Calif., agrees that we can state our honest opinions civilly, she believes that people have become less civil about protecting their own right to express their views while restricting the expression of views that differ from their own.

Charlie Seng of Lancaster, S.C., writes that, because of a "seeming craze to be candid about everything," we have gone "from a civil type of life toward an uncivil and mistrusting type of life." It's not necessary, he writes, "to be candid all the time."

Check out other opinions at or post your own by clicking on "post a comment" or "comments" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business" (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," New York Times Syndicate, 609 Greenwich St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10014-3610.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does civility and candor go hand in hand? I am currently working at a local shoulder around the homeless population in Salt Lake City, Utah, and why candor can be good, civility in this case could have disasterous consequences. I see mothers who are children themselves raising children. These young women are missing their teenage years, bearing the weight of what should have taken place years from now. Instead of the prom they are pushing strollers. Would candor be helpful, or quiet civility? Praying that my daughter when I have one, will pay attention to my wife and myself. I witness daily lives wrecked with drugs and alcohol, and wonder what these individuals could have become, making a different decision years prior, to this point. As my left shoulder heals from a major reconstructive surgery, I am gaining an appreciation, of what most of us take for granted. Years from now when my wife and children pull up to donate items, I will smile knowing that candor and civility, do not always go hand in hand.

Todd Brklacich
Murray, UT