What would Mr. Rogers tweet? Talk encourages civility on social media

Hamilton’s City of Character committee plans to address a hypothetical question if Mr. Rogers were alive in today’s age of political divisiveness and incivility.

On a daily basis the country encounters vile comments, uncivilized rants, personal attacks, and angry outbursts on various social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. So, the City of Character committee is asking Tuesday night, “What would Mr. Rogers tweet?”

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“Hopefully, it will impact our respect for others — how we treat others and behave in public. It’s about empathy; of imagining the impact your actions have on others,” said Paul Thoms, moderator for Tuesday night’s panel discussion at Miami Hamilton Downtown Center.

The panel discussion, which is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, will feature members of the media, including the Journal-News, Miami University and the city of Hamilton. The committee believes that the rising lack of tolerance eventually becomes negative and polarizing in races of elected office at all levels, so organizers say the challenge is to counter, if not nullify, rampant noise.

“Words are powerful and we all need to be a little more cognizant of what we say and how we talk,” said Joni Copas, Hamilton city schools spokeswoman and City of Character committee member.

She said the old “sticks and stones may break my bones” adage isn’t true today because words can hurt, and leave deep long, lasting wounds.

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“I tell my own kids, don’t say anything on social media that you wouldn’t say to that person’s face,” Copas said.

The forum comes on the heels of several political attacks on high-profile Democrats and CNN on Wednesday and Thursday. Ten explosive devices were mailed to, among others, former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, R-California. A device was also mailed to CNN’s New York offices.

All Democratic targets of the mailed devices, as well as CNN, have been criticized by President Donald Trump during campaign stump speeches. None of the 10 bombs mailed exploded, and no one was hurt, according to media reports.

The bombs come at a high-point in political tension ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm election. They also come at a high-point of political distrust in America.

More than 90 percent of Americans surveyed in the annual Civility in America national poll said there's a "severe deficit in our nation" when it comes to civility and 69 percent called it "a major problem."

And the country is politically distrusting as 65 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of Republicans say the other party is either a very serious or a somewhat serious threat to the United States, according to an American Institutional Confidence Poll of 5,400 Americans.


What: What Would Mr. Rogers Tweet: Encouraging Civility in Social Media

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30

Where: Miami Hamilton Downtown Center, 221 High Street in Hamilton

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