The incivility among us

Bravo to President Carol Goodheart for her trenchant description of a growing problem in public life, namely rude, impulsive messages from the disgruntled to anyone whose e-mail address they happen to have. (“President’s Column,” January Monitor).

The first thing to remember is that online messages can be erased instantly with a single keystroke. Just as we teach our kids to ignore or confront nasty messages from their peers, we are entitled to brush aside messages from our peers that fail to meet minimum standards of common courtesy.

Those who shout others down, whether in governance meetings within APA or in town hall meetings in our communities, can be confronted, ignored or put in their place by whoever is running the meeting. We have the choice. Ditto our e-mail.

What we do not need to do is waste our time evaluating, “helping,” deploring, scolding or analyzing those who would lure us into their game of irrationality and self-importance.

William A. Myers, PhD
Cape Coral, Fla.

I was amused by the Harry Potter reference at the end of the Dr. Carol Goodheart’s column, especially since I’m currently reading the fifth book to my children. That’s the one where a minority is trying to convince the public that there is something terrible going on and the ones holding power are doing what they can to discredit them. Dr. Goodheart appears to be doing the same thing in her letter. Civil dialogue on issues is very important. In 2007, I sent a letter to Dr. Norman Anderson to ask what empirical evidence APA had that their stance that psychologists’ involvement in interrogations of detainees at Guantanamo and other places was keeping the interrogations safe since there was evidence to the contrary mounting weekly in the national news. I never received a reply. So now that the majority opinion of APA is that psychologists are not to be involved in interrogations where the human rights of the detainees is not being respected, I wish to ask Dr. Goodheart: What is APA doing, aside from writing a couple of letters, to ensure that the referendum is being followed? What is APA doing to repair our reputation? I hope that APA takes the steps that are needed. Until I see this happening, the best option, in the words of Mad-Eye Moody, is constant vigilance.

Kristi A. Schermerhorn, PhD
Redmond, Wash.

Please send letters to Sara Martin, Monitor editor, at the APA address. Letters should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for clarity or space.