Every now and then, I post on a topic that people have strong feelings about. Also every now and then, those strong feelings come out in the comments. Strong feelings are all right, and arguments and debate are all right, but all conversations around here should be conducted with civility. Here are a few guidelines:
1. Posting anonymously makes it extremely unlikely that your comment will see the light of day. Arthur Schopenhauer said, back in the 1800s, “Anonymity is the refuge for all literary and journalistic rascality.” The internet has proven him right, over and over again. If you want your comment taken seriously, have the courage to put your name on it. I’ve put my name on this blog, and I expect the same from you.
2. Focus on arguments, not people. I invite you to critically evaluate what I’ve written; you may (and probably do) have an insight that I haven’t thought of. But if you disagree with someone (whether it is the author of the post, another commenter, groups of people or even public figures), you may criticize their argument. You may even express disagreement with their actions. But don’t be contentious, and don’t make personal attacks.
3. Do not exaggerate or distort other people’s beliefs or arguments. I exercise great care in writing posts, especially those on topics I regard as controversial. If you are unable or unwilling to exercise the same care in reading and responding to these posts – or comments made by others – your comments are not welcome. If you want to argue with what other people have said, please make an effort to ensure that you are arguing with what they actually said.
4. What you regard as someone else’s incivility does not excuse an uncivil response. “But he started it!” is not an acceptable justification for behavior in children, and it certainly isn’t in adults. I reserve the right to delete those comments that are not civil.
In short, treat others the way you would like to be treated (Luke 6:31). If you are fool enough to only be interested in sharing your opinion without listening to others (Proverbs 18:2), you’re not welcome. If you are only interested in scoring points, please go someplace where they are keeping score.
If you feel that I have violated these guidelines myself (and since I’m a flawed human being, I’m sure I have and will), please call my attention to it.