What is Citizenship? Exercises for Reflection and Discussion
Live and Let Live: The Case of Laramie, Wyoming. Laramie is a small Western U.S. city where the hate crime took place in which Matthew Shepard, a young gay man and local university student, was brutally murderedin 1998. After the murder, a New York theatre troup went to Laramie to interview citizens to learn about tolerance and diversity. Citizens were shocked to be living in a city where such an infamous hate crime occurred, given that their motto had been “live and let live.” View the HBO film based on the play by the same title (click here for a full synopsis of the film)and then see the study guide developed by Time. Think particularly about the experience of Laramie within the context of the philosophical essays on citizenship. Is the motto “live and let live” sufficient to secure citizenship rights for all?
THE NATIONAL CIVIC LEAGUE (U.S.) is a nonprofit organization dedication to the promotion of good citizenship and healthy civic life. Read their home page and then follow the link to their All American Cities program. Or, better yet, view the documentary on Dubuque, Iowa: All American City. Identify the criteria by which the program evaluates good citizenship. Which philosophers anthologized in Philosophy and the City would endorse the assumption values adopted by the NCL? Which would reject them? Why?
INSTITUTE FOR CITIZENSHIP (U.K.). Read this website, with particular focus on their concept of "active citizenship." 1) What are the key features/values of active citizenship? 2) Which, if any of the philosophers you've read in Philosophy and the City develop and/or defend concepts of active citizenship. 3) Which do not? 4) Develop a philosophical argument in defense of active citizenship, drawing on at least 3 philosophers you have read.
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