Left of Center: Civil Pittsburgh Op-ed

23 Apr

Today, walking in Lawrenceville, I passed a vehicle that had a bumper sticker that said, “Somewhere in Kenya, a village is missing it’s IDIOT,” bolstering the smiling grin of President Obama.  I want to start off by asking is it proper grammar to have an apostrophe in the word “it’s?” Idiot, Huh? Further, what does that even mean? Does this individual actually think that President Obama is Kenyan? Does he also think that our electoral system would allow a blubbering idiot to be elected to the highest office in the land? I know what you’re all thinking…

Courtesy of Flickr user "Image Editor"

Let me just get to my point: Is it even possible to have a civil conversation?  Civil Pittsburgh often ends its post “These are the issues Pittsburgh.  Let’s have a civil conversation.”  But, are people capable of being civil when it comes to an issue that might be considered partisan? Paul Krugman suggests in his recent article Let’s Not Be Civil, that it’s time to stop being civil and for politicians to take their positions directly to the voters. The partisan right is getting the upper hand while the left, or democrats continue to give up ground. He concludes by saying:

So let’s not be civil. Instead, let’s have a frank discussion of our differences. In particular, if Democrats believe that Republicans are talking cruel nonsense, they should say so — and take their case to the voters.

That’s what democracy should be, right? Civil Pittsburgh prides itself on the idea of bringing individuals together to promote civil rights and civil liberties and in turn hopefully promoting this extremely political and philosophical idea of democracy. That being said, there has been extensive research that concludes that people, when it comes to political decisions, don’t think rationally. In The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of a Nation, author and psychologist Drew Weston talks about how people with preconceived notions are likely to “reason” to emotionally biased decisions. He goes on to say:

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion…draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects or despises…in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate.

When we, as Americans, have politicians serving in the highest posts in our land spewing outright falsities, how are we supposed to come to a reasonable conclusion? Further, for future generations who want to look at “official records” of false statements, they can’t even do that. Why? Because Senators can alter, and rephrase any statement they make on the Senate floor before it goes into the official Congressional record. Well, say what you want and don’t worry about those fact thingies…You can quietly fix that later and whatever you said was not intended to be a factual statement anyway. Well Pittsburgh, can we have a civil conversation? Civil Pittsburghhopes so, and our hope is that individuals exercising their Constitutional rights, will make it easier to be informed about the many issues that affects your everyday life. Thomas Jefferson said, “A well-informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.” Let’s have a conversation, but let’s also be honest.

Courtesy of Flickr user "Cliff1066"

These are the issues. Let’s have a civil conversation.


Beth Pittinger Talks Civil Rights and Pittsburgh

20 Apr

 This is Civil Pittsburgh’s First installment of our audio speaker’s series.  You’ll be hearing from Beth Pittinger the Executive director of Pittsburgh’s Citizens Police Review Board.

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From The News (Without Reading)

17 Apr

With the impending cuts to education, as proposed by our Governor, Tom Corbett, we may need a little more help understanding words that are going across the page, the screen, whatever medium we might be reading.  That said, cave men could read pictures…Right?  With our prehistoric ancestors in mind  Civil Pittsburgh presents our first installment of , “From the News (Without Reading).”  Actually there is still reading, but hopefully with a lot less effort.

Community leaders say diversity on the police force is necessary to build trust in neighborhoods where residents are notoriously wary of police. This cultural sensitivity could lead to a more respectful community/police relations and a more civil Pittsburgh.

For the rest of the story check out this article.

These are the issues Pittsburgh.  Let’s Have a civil conversation.

Poll: Man Receives a Police Beating.

11 Apr

After watching this video, do you think this man’s rights have been violated?  Take the poll below!

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White Paper: Protests and Demonstrations Help Pittsburgh Residents Become Better Informed About Many Public Issues

10 Apr

Civil Pittsburgh White Paper (Microsoft Word Version 76.4 KB)


This White Paper provides information about the effects of popular protest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It describes the reasons one might engage in a popular protest and the external effects it may have on the surrounding community. Further the paper will look at specific examples of protest and the results that occurred as directly related to the actions of the protestors.

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9 Apr

Hello All!….Loyal Civil Pittsburgh Followers! We are looking for contributors. Do you like to take photos, or to write about local events? If interested contact us at civilpittsburgh@gmail.com!!!

“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”
— John F. Kennedy

Flashback: September 2009

5 Apr

Courtesy of Flickr user "Desiree N. Williams"

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hosted the G-20 Summit, which was held September 24-25, 2009. President Obama chaired the meeting of leaders from countries around the world that represent 85 percent of the world’s economy. With the increased attention on Pittsburgh, groups from across the world congregated in Pittsburgh to have their voices heard. The grievances, from group to group, varied from environmentalism, to racism, to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but all groups sought to exercise their First Amendment

Courtesy of Jobs with Justice


These peaceful demonstrations took a turn for the worst and saw hundreds of arrests. The American Civil Liberties Union brought a civil suit against the City of Pittsburgh for alleged first amendment violations by the Pittsburgh Police. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reportedthat the city’s solicitor Daniel Regan claimed, “The city is prepared to defend itself against any baseless or frivolous claims.” The city also prepared to defend themselves from a small scale land invasion.

Courtesy of Charity Sperringer

While the city claims no wrong doing, there were enough cameras running to dispel claims that the Police acted within their Constitutional limits. Below is a short documentary, Democracy 101, by indy filmaker Nigel Parry. Democracy 101 is a look at the policing and pattern of issues that arise during National Special Security Events. Made with footage from the recent repression of dissent in Pittsburgh, salvaged from the broken cameras, stolen video and arrested reporters, and independent journalists from around the country:

These are your Civil Liberties Pittsburgh, let’s have a civil conversation.

Just for fun.

A Pittsburghers account of the G-20 Summit