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CIVIL DISCOURSE - An Occasional Attempt To Restore Civility To Civic Discourse


Watching Lee Daniels’ movie “The Butler” may help remove what remnants of racism remain in America. This educational history lesson traces the story of the civil rights movement through seven U.S. presidents over thirty years. It powerfully engages deep emotion. The sense of pride evoked by the accomplishments of the civil rights movement is as exhilarating as the violent racism is revolting. I do not believe anyone with a Confederate flag on their truck could watch this movie and not be moved to remove it. 

“The Butler” is a movie of contrasts.  The double-standard on race relations displayed by most of the seven presidents leaves none looking heroic.  The silent spirituality of non-violence is confronted by the generational frustrations of people subjected to marginalization and discrimination who agitate for action.  When you walk out from this movie the profound realization is that the different voices in the U.S. civil rights movement, and that of our political leadership, are neither totally right nor wrong. There is no monopoly on morality. Take in this movie and let me know if it evokes the range of emotion for you that it did for me.


As America commemorates the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” on August 28, much of his vision is yet to be realized.

America still pays women less than 80% of comparable pay for men. Gays and lesbians are bullied and marginalized. Blacks are employed at half the rate of white Americans, are disproportionately incarcerated and graduate from high school and college far less than half the level of white Americans. The progress is impressive and so is the challenge of creating justice for more Americans regardless of color, gender and sexual orientation.


One of Door County’s most impressive services received an infusion of cash through The Rotary Club of Sturgeon Bay on Thursday. Ministry Door County Medical Center operates a dental clinic in Sturgeon Bay serving people who cannot afford dental care. Rotary, through a district grant, donated $13,000 to the clinic – an amount that will be matched by Door County Medical Center. Preventive care and educational efforts in area schools make the Ministry Door County Medical Center Dental Clinic a valuable resource. Few things can impact a young child more than chronic pain caused by tooth decay. Young boys and girls, embarrassed and uncomfortable because of dental issues, are smiling today because of this valuable community asset. And thanks to Rotary, it looks like quite a few more kids will be smiling in the future. 


Finding two people nicer than Gene Mitchell and Barb Herdina would be difficult to do. Gene has greeted members and visitors to the Rotary Club of Sturgeon Bay for more than twenty years. Barb is one of the founders of DOOR CANcer, Inc., an organization dedicated to serving people who have been impacted by cancer in Door County.  She’s the “Mother Theresa of Door County” and Gene Mitchell must have come into the world with a smile on his face and it’s never left.

They are two very nice people…and both of them make Door County a better place to live.


The missing ingredient in far too much civic discourse today is civility. Let’s exchange ideas, disagree without being disagreeable, find common ground and, together, restore CIVIL DISCOURSE.

That’s my opinion. I’d like to hear yours. Email your thoughts to


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