Insiders and outsiders keep democracy alive: Whistleblowing, civil disobedience and discourse

From the Revolutionary War, to Rosa Parks and #MeToo, whistleblowing and civil disobedience are in America's DNA.

Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • The first U.S. whistleblower protection law was passed unanimously in 1778 in response to the misconduct of Navy Commodore Esek Hopkins.
  • Whistleblowing and civil disobedience are tools of discourse that keep elites honest and protect democracy.
  • The difference? Whistleblowers are insiders who expose improper conduct to the authorities or to the press. Civil disobedience starts with outsiders whose actions slowly gain popular support, which then catalyzes change.
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Have you accidentally offended someone? Here’s advice for you and them.

Here's what to say in an era where many people are too afraid to say anything.

Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • In a diverse world, we run the risk of accidentally saying something that will offend someone. That does not mean you should automatically be disqualified from continuing in the discussion. We cannot have a 'one strike you're out' reaction, says Allison Stanger.
  • If you offend someone inadvertently, it's extremely important that you apologize and say 'That was not my intention.' Apologizing is the foundation for being able to move forward, and if the offense caused was accidental, there's no reason not to apologize.
  • If you are the person who has been offended, realize that people make mistakes when they think out loud and engage in discourse. We cannot stamp out implicit biases but people can grow self-aware and learn from their mistakes. Try to be more generous to people who accidentally offend you.
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