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MCC professor talks about legislating civility

By Staff
Special to The Star
Oct. 26, 2001
Asking what happens when people do and don't legislate civility, Meridian Community College instructor Diann Sollie explored the answers in a talk on Thursday.
The event in the College's Casteel Gallery also celebrated the fact that Sollie was named Humanities Professor of the Year. Sollie, chairperson of the social science division at MCC, received a $500 stipend from the Mississippi Humanities Council.
Sollie quoted from a U.S. News and World Report survey that 89 percent of Americans view social incivility as a problem in our society. Three-fourths, she added, indicated that it has gotten worse in the past 10 years.
Sollie asked the audience "why are we so uncivil?" And she speculated that television and the "me generation" are culprits.
The state has tried to legislate social civility, Sollie said.
One such law concerns illegitimate children, making it illegal for people to have a second illegitimate child or face at least 30 days in jail. The Health Department, Sollie added, is to notify the district attorney of each county the parent's names each month.
More recently, she said, welfare laws allow recipients to receive benefits for a maximum of 60 months and has stipulations that regulate social civility. Sollie said the law defines one of its purposes as the prevention and reduction of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and encouraging the formation of two-parent families.
Specifically, parents under 18 must attend school, work or seek a GED if they want to receive welfare benefits. They also must live with a parent or an adult guardian if they are not married.
All participants must either work or participate in on-the-job training or educational programs. All children must receive vaccinations and if participants have school-age children, they must attend school without school suspensions.
Sollie added that government has a right and duty given by the Constitution to secure the public interest and preserve individual rights. Many of these laws, she said, legislate social civility.