This thread is inspired by spiff’s thread in which says he’s glad that Pat Robertson has cancer. After being roundly flamed by almost everyone in sight, spiff showed a considerable amount of class by offering an apology, part of which said:
Well, at the risk of being flamed, i’d like to make an observation about this thread.
I think spiff showed an admirable willingness to reconsider his positon and apologise for what was a rather tactless comment.
However, i’m not quite sure that i support the the second sentence in the paragraph i have quoted above. At no stage did spiff express happiness at anyone else’s cancer - only at Pat Robertson’s. The question of whether the OP was in good taste or appropriate is something that can be debated without the maudlin appeals to personal experience.
I’m not trying to ridicule the awful experiences of those who have cancer and their friends and loved ones - i have great sympathy for all of them - but i do assert that extending this sort of attitude to other potential SDMB topics could have the effect of shutting down some issues altogether.
For example, are we going to ask defenders of the 2nd amendment to tone down their argument in deference to people who might have friends who were killed or injured by a gun? Personally, i’m not a big fan of gun ownership, but i don’t want those i’m debating with to feel constrained in making their arguments by the fact that someone, somewhere on the Boards might have an upsetting reaction to the discussion.
Or are we going to tone down debates on the death penalty so we don’t upset people who have some sort of personal stake in the issue, whether as a victim of crime or as the family/friend of someone on death row?
What about the issue of drunk driving? I know someone who was killed by a drunk driver, but i prefer to base my arguments against drunk driving on what i believe are reasonable and logical premises, rather than simply crying “I know someone who was killed by a drunk driver, so whatever you say is wrong because because you don’t share my experience.”
And are we going to stop threads like this one because their primary purpose is to have fun and gross people out by finding the most disgusting diseases possible? What if someone came to this thread and said that they had elephantiasis or leprosy, and that we shouldn’t make fun of such diseases? Do we close the thread?
I know the examples i’ve given are not directly comparable to the thread about Pat Robertson, but i think some similar principles apply. The point i’m making here is not that we should stay silent if someone says something that we think is stupid, but that, in the case of spiff’s thread, there was plenty of scope to criticise the OP without making the whole thing into a “my uncle had cancer, so how dare you” type of debate. The OP never made a general remark about all victims of cancer - he referred to one specific person. Call him an asshole for his attitude to the suffering of others if you want, but don’t slam him for a generalization that he never made.