Ode to Civilized Debate

Debater Salt made a comment late last week that I wanted to share:

I hope all bloggers will take care not to be abusive at any time in any way. Political discussions should always be conducted with a large dose of humility. We all believe what we believe, but we should all write with the fact in the back of our minds that [we] can be wrong. This is what makes America great, not the bile and hate that spews forth in our political media of all forms.

The Debate has hosted terrific discussions on some very complicated subjects, with persuasive comments from Debaters holding wildly varying political beliefs. I want this to be a blog where informed opinions are shared and, of course, debated. Perhaps through this dialogue, we can all come to understand each other a little better, and maybe even -- dare I say it? -- find some points of consensus every now and then.

A big thanks to Salt and to all who've contributed their ideas so far. I look forward to reading much more from you as the Debate continues...

By Emily Messner |  November 7, 2005; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Misc.
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Methinks that Salt's perception of how debate should be conducted is a recent self-revealation. I'm all for his enlightenment. Let's hope it sticks.

Posted by: Roger Dier | November 8, 2005 06:30 AM


One of the things a civilized debate must never neglect is provide proper documentation. Just a while ago, I came across a piece of news on BBC. And it is not good. Here's the link:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4417024.stm

BBC reports that the US military has used "incendiary arms" in Iraq. The reference is to the Italian TV (RAI) documentary alleging that white phosphorus was used on civilians in Falluja a year ago. When this chemical makes contact with skin, then it causes almost irreversible damage, burning flesh to the bone.

If there is still some lingering doubt about the comparison between Vietnam and Iraq (the infamous "quagmire"), one need only to recall that the chemical stuff allegedly used in Falluja (phosphorus) is not much different than the napalm bombs used in Vietnam.

Will our news media report this? And, are we ever going to learn??

Posted by: Lea | November 8, 2005 10:27 AM

Dear Emily;
I agree with you wholeheartedly. However, I wish that the media had followed your rules of civilized discourse for the last 12 years. I do remember very well when my hero, Bill Clinton, was hunted down and impeached for a personal matter. Then the media did not do much to help the man. Instead, we witnessed what looked like a pack of hungry wolves going for the kill. The spectacle reminded me of the Salem witch-hunt. As a result, I've built a huge amount of resentment and anger at the media. Today, the situation has not changed that much. We are witnessing a period in American History, which will be remembered by its corruption, inequality, ineptitude and fascist overtones. I have not doubts in my mind that when all the corruption and treasonous behavior of VP Cheney's cabal is exposed, the shock waves will reverberate around the world and shame us for generations. I desperately wish that the media would pursue and expose the corruption, malfeasance, and treasonous behavior of the Cheney/Bush administration. I often feel that you are not doing enough to put the country first. Perhaps, it is because I can't find the words to express the rage and sorrow that feel for the state of our country, that sometimes I will pound the keyboard and resource to words and language that I may not use otherwise. Having said, I promise that I will continue to lurk and call on the media to pay attention and report the facts rather than Rovian spin. It is our duty to hold our government accountable. The day that citizens and the media stop doing that and allow themselves to become part of the cover up, our goose will cooked as a nation of laws.

Posted by: Julio | November 8, 2005 11:06 AM

Generally, one can tell when they have hit a political nerve by the incendiary nature of the postings. Also quite generally, these types of postings bring out the worst in a community dominated by political hacks and obbessives still learning the ropes (those that have learned the ropes write their own blogs or publish).

Incendiary debate is one of the hallmarks of the blogsphere. This sort of language stems from anonymity; we will never be personally judged by our peers. Seeking to limit or expunge this sort of communication limits the number of participants and degrades a medium meant to express the views of the widest possible audience, instead of simply the views of the editorialist and a few like minded allies.

If the point of this blog is to debate, wouldn't it make more sense to plumb the depths and vagrancies of the incendiary issues? Censoring abusive language simply mitigates one more tool for discovery of the 'hot topics' and moves us one step back toward the classic editorial.

Posted by: chris | November 8, 2005 12:40 PM

Generally, one can tell when they have hit a political nerve by the incendiary nature of the postings. Also quite generally, these types of postings bring out the worst in a community dominated by political hacks and obbessives still learning the ropes (those that have learned the ropes write their own blogs or publish).

Incendiary debate is one of the hallmarks of the blogsphere. This sort of language stems from anonymity; we will never be personally judged by our peers. Seeking to limit or expunge this sort of communication limits the number of participants and degrades a medium meant to express the views of the widest possible audience, instead of simply the views of the editorialist and a few like minded allies.

If the point of this blog is to debate, wouldn't it make more sense to plumb the depths and vagrancies of the incendiary issues? Censoring abusive language simply mitigates one more tool for discovery of the 'hot topics' and moves us one step back toward the classic editorial.

Posted by: chris | November 8, 2005 12:42 PM

Generally, one can tell when they have hit a political nerve by the incendiary nature of the postings. Also quite generally, these types of postings bring out the worst in a community dominated by political hacks and obbessives still learning the ropes (those that have learned the ropes write their own blogs or publish).

Incendiary debate is one of the hallmarks of the blogsphere. This sort of language stems from anonymity; we will never be personally judged by our peers. Seeking to limit or expunge this sort of communication limits the number of participants and degrades a medium meant to express the views of the widest possible audience, instead of simply the views of the editorialist and a few like minded allies.

If the point of this blog is to debate, wouldn't it make more sense to plumb the depths and vagrancies of the incendiary issues? Censoring abusive language simply mitigates one more tool for discovery of the 'hot topics' and moves us one step back toward the classic editorial.

Posted by: chris | November 8, 2005 12:43 PM

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