An 18-year-old Rutgers University student threw himself off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate put up live video of the boy making out with another boy. The suicide coincides with the inauguration “Project Civility,” Rutger’s earnest and well-funded attempt to push a rhetorical rope.
Respect, Restraint, and Responsibility in Public and Political Life
Slogan for the Rutgers Project Civility
Alliteration, beginning consecutive words with the same letter.
Academia loves alliteration as an inoffensive substitute for wit. “Inoffensive” is the operant word for a “project” that isn’t a project that seeks to tame the savage undergraduate. In ancient times, civility was something the elite practiced. The reward: an improved ethos, followed by status and money.
In modern times, civility is the vague cause of milquetoasts—a cause that wouldn’t prevent that poor boy from jumping. Meanwhile, the gay organization at Rutger’s picketed the kickoff Project Civility event, calling for “safety.”
We don’t need safety or civility. We need argument: the deployment of rhetorical skill to answer, and shame, the uncivil.