“Just Be Nice” is an article written by Stephen L. Carter. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at the Yale Law School. This article was written in May 1998, and was a response to former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s remarks that the citizenry should give up their rude ways. Carter first touched on the fact that, in the Nineteen Sixties and seventies, some of his classroom time was spent in the study of manners and politeness, and no one objected to it.
He believes that if these types of things were taught in school today, that there would be a public outcry. Furthermore, he believes that society today is different than what it was fifty years ago, and we as a people must work together to better understand, and to get along with each other. There are many people that can learn from this article, but mainly the article written for fellow scholars; law students are we abusing the rights that we have as a people in this country. The author feels that we are not living out the true meaning of the word freedom.
He believes that the bitterness in people comes from the fact that they feel that they have the right to be mean to each other. When something does not go their way, they can scream that their rights have been violated. Carter believes that no one wants to follow the rules anymore. When people are punished for doing something wrong, they scream that their rights allow them to act that way. That was not a part of the history of rights that was set up for us. Carter feels that the respect for the basic rights that we have as Americans are being abused by people. The elevation of self-expression over self control. ”(672) Carter also supports the fact that there is no trust in our basic society anymore. “We have let cynicism replace civility. ”(672) Carter further believes that when we feel that we can work in the public and present ourselves anyway that we desire, and that is a right they have. The civil rights that we have did not allow us the right to dress any way that we please. Carter believes that the rights of freedom of speech are also being abused by many in our society today.
When people believe that they can express themselves in public any way they see fit, and no one should object to their verbal outburst. He also goes on to state that the case of Cohen v. California was a case that the rights of Cohen had not been upheld when his rights of expression was violated, by wearing a jacket with profanity on it. “Yet he believes that is a danger when offensiveness becomes a constitutional right. ”(674) Carter states that many of the rights that people fought and died for are not being respected.
Government cannot regulate the speech for everyone. “We are not recognizing the terrible damage that free speech can do when people do not exercise civility. ”(675) we have the ability to say wonderful or very mean thing with the tongue. With must watch the thing that we say to people with-out thinking. We must start being civil with one another and not feel that our right as a people gives us the right to treat people badly. After analyzing the author’s article I feel that he is accurate in examples of how people do abuse many of our basic rights as Americans.
The author points at the droopy pants boy as an example of how the misuse of a dress code can lead a response from authority, and counter claim by the boy of his rights being violated. It is also very relevant what the author touched on when he compares the girl who was fired because of her heavy face piercings, clams that her rights had been violated. (673) We cannot let our desires replace what our rights as citizens really are. The issues that Carters reflects on are not current. Many of these issues were big news ten to fifteen years ago. Many people express hemselves in the way that they dress nowadays, so not many people are offended by some of the items that Carter speaks of. The droopy pants that the young boy wore to school are fashion trends now, along with facial piercings are fashion statements as well. In response to the author’s presentation, I feel that we as people have lost our way when it comes to civility. There use to be a time when we greeted each other in a welcome way, nowadays we do respond with so much anger and hate.
As with the radio host for WABC in New York, “Bob Grant who made racist remarks on the air and refused to stop. (674) Carter’s reflection on some issues, I believe came out looking like everything that the younger generation want to do to express themselves, they over step their rights. (675) I feel that civility works both ways. We have to learn to accept the ways of others, and not expect for someone to always be pleasing to us. Civility is accepting other for who they are. I do feel that the author is on point when he shows how we have lost respect for the wonderful rights we have in this country. Treating your fellow man civil and with respect can only make for a happier place for all of us to live.
Yet part of life involves us to encounter different people, with different personality. We all must keep an open mind when we deal with each other. We can be very offensive to someone by what we say or what we don’t say. We also can be offensive when we expect someone to live up to our standards. (675) In conclusion, I believe that we have lost our civility in this country as a whole. I feel that the author is correct when he writes people have taken their desires and wants, and turned them into their legal rights. The right to verbally offensive to people is not part of the history that we came from.
Morally, we have a duty to respect others and their rights, but legally some believe that it is their right to do anything that they please, and they do not have to be civil. I enjoyed the author’s point of view, even if it came from a legal standpoint. Over all we all have to try to get along with each other; it only makes for a happier stay on this earth for all of us. Civility is the only way we can survive with each other.
Carter, Stephen, “Just Be Nice. ” The Norton Field Guide to Writing. Ed. Richard, Bullock, New York, Norton, 2010. 671-675