A Prediction, and a Resolution (join me if you like)

Axioms

  1. The value of a message board is the free exchange of knowledge and opinions among people of good will.

  2. Freedom of unrestricted speech in such a forum is a privilege revokable upon profound abuse as defined by the board owners and their designees.

Prediction

Political debate is an undeniably valid topic. People of goodwill may clash, sometimes almost violently within the context of debate on this topic. This is also appropriate as political beleifs run as deep as any, grounded as they may be in culture, race, geography, sexual preference, cultural background etc.

There is however a difference between political debate and thinly veiled hatemongering disguised as debate. It is my opinion that within the SDMB this line is being crossed more frequently and consistently than usual with little or no constructive intent or outcome.

Surely this has come to the attention of the administrators. Past experience lends me little doubt that if and when they decide to do something about it, they will do so unambiguously, resulting in stricter guidelines, and a loss of some of the benefits resulting from the first axiom. Perhaps things will die down on their own, perhaps not.

My prediction is that something will be done, unless we all show better judgement, and goodwill.

Therefore, I resolve the following:

  1. When I participate in political debates, I will control myself like a responsible human being should.

  2. I will not engage in wholesale attacks upon people based on affiliation with what are widely recognized as legitimate political beliefs.

  3. I will not falsely imply that the perceived or real failings of any particular individual somehow construe these same failings upon other people of the same affiliation.
    a. Bill Clinton getting a hummer, does not prove the moral bankruptcy of Democrats everywhere.
    b. George Bush driving drunk, and endangering lives by doing so, does not prove that Republicans everywhere have little regard for human life.

  4. I will be reasonable and specific in my conclusions and they will directly follow from the substance of my assertions. I will not engage in baiting.

  5. When people not of my political affiliation engage in 1-4, I will hold my breath and count to ten before posting. I will not respond in kind. If I think a debate is worthwhile, I will either ignore the insulting rhetoric, or point it out politely. If I feel the purpose is total empty hatemongering, I will ignore it, or if I feel that I must post, I will post one, short, crisp, yet reasonable and appropriate reply. Then, I will not feed the trolls, even if they are political.

  6. When someone of my affiliation engages in 1-4, I will feel it my duty to attempt to mitigate the offense as appropriately and reasonably as I can, in order to preserve the integrity of the discussion.

The signal should be sent that hatemongering is intolerable under any banner.

“Let the healing cease.” - P.J. O’Rourke.

(Actually, a very thoughtful post, Scylla. We should all strive to do better.)

With due newbie trepidation, I applaud heartily.

Hey, all right, where do I sign?

Mostly, I’m just tired of trying to separate the real meat of a debate from the "I invented the Internet"s and the "Subliminable"s.

[standing ovation]Thank you Scylla. I was getting pretty sick of the bickering around here myself. I join your movement with pride.

I accept your first axiom absolutely, take your second axiom as a given and agree with your resolutions unreservedly. Hopefully, your prediction won’t come into play.

Well said, Scylla.

While some dark part of me would probably enjoy watching the Admins pull a Night of the Long Knives, I must applaud you resolutions. Not bad… not bad at all.

YOU’RE ALL WORSE THAN HITLER!!!

(Hey, it comes up in every internet discussion sooner or later. Figured I’d get it out of the way so we can move on.)

Well done, Scylla.

It’s too bad that the people who need to read this probably won’t.

Friedo hereby ads his signature.

(imagine a barely legible scrawl right…HERE.)

Scylla, you are to be commended for this pre-emptive strike in the name of decency at the SDMB. I am really glad to say that the two of us have pretty much arrived at this same conclusion between ourselves despite our political diffferences.

The vitriol that arose from the recent presidential election brought out an entirely unseemly facet of this board’s denizens. Neither pretty nor fun to watch, it has already merited the measures mentioned above. We are all lucky that such constraints have not been put in place before now.

Please allow me to sign your petition for greater courtesy amongst the members of our online community.

Dispassionately speaking, it takes more than general idiocy and rudeness for the Long Knives to come out. People have gone into frothing, spitting, wall-eyed hissy hits over UFOs, sports, religion, Wicca, astrology, etc. The Long Knives–and the short ones, the scalpels and the stray axe–are reserved for deliberate, often chronic abusers. Over-the-line excesses just rate a swift whap across the snout with a rolled newspaper.

Equally dispassionately, the bright, sensible majority here do a pretty damned fine job of interpreting and enforcing the spirit of the place. Pretty impressive, really, given the collection of rampageous individualists around here.

Veb

Hey Scylla I already told you that I enjoy debating you - now you have to come up with some crap that I agree with!?!?!? Sheesh. What’s a gal supposed to do???

Yea. where do I sign?

Strange words from someone who is still unrepentant of his behaviour in the Abortion ONLY in cases of rape or incest? thread. (In his most recent post, made two days after this ode to reason and civilty, he deliberately took a quote out of context and insulted me because I dared to point out that he had not answered my question).

Unless you happen to agree with him, I’d suggest that this guy isn’t worth the trouble of rebutting.

Great post Scylla, I agree.

Boo.

Hoo.

Here, lemme grab that pole up your ass and whack you with it a few times.

Civility is always good… and far too often lacking.

Are you saying that when engaged in a politcal debate on the boards we should gasp rise above the level of the candidates themselves? No more mudslinging? No more sly intimations of the unnatural sexual practices engaged in by other posters? No more potshots at the alleged drug use/mental deficiency/pederasty of the religious/political leaders another poster defends? You would have an end to hard-hitting discussions like the following:

Scylla: lucie is obviously a morally bankrupt satan-worshiper who wants to sacrifice your children on Fox TV!

lucie: Scylla is a raving maniac who wants to burn the Constitution after using it to wipe his fundie/Catholic/Mormon/buddhist butt!!

Scylla: lucie is a poo-poo head who never changes her underwear!!!

lucie: Scylla picks his nose and eats it!!!

Well, I guess this spells the beginning of the end for GD.

(note for the sarcasm impaired - the previous was not meant to malign either Scylla or myself. It is a joke. I agree that GD should be a place for thoughtful, considerate debate. And I do so change my underwear.)

That whole eating the booger thing was an accident, OK?!?

It fell out of my nose and landed on my finger, then I went to pick my teeth.

I’ve been framed.