Re: What is the purpose of debate?
I have to be honest here, I'm a little discouraged right now. I've been reading through some of the recent posts here in the debate forum and have been seeing good subjects with valid points go bad because people were more interested in tearing each other apart and defending themselves than sticking to the topic and trying to get their point across in a clear concise manner ...
Valid observation - it happens. Shouldn't, on a perfect forum in a perfect world wouldn't, but there are no perfect forums and a perfect world this isn't, so it happens. Some folks are discouraged by the real world, that happens too.
However, this bothers me. A lot. And I need to say that. I am not talking to one certain person or group of people here. I don't wish to point anyone out or name any names. Call me silly if you will, but I read the guidelines before I started posting here and have done my best to follow them. I won't post them all here but there are a few things I would like to highlight:
Our wish for this forum is that all who attend come away with a richer understanding of the issues being debated, and with an increased appreciation of differing viewpoints held by others. These guidelines are in place to encourage that end above any others.
Its good to have goals. Set your goals low enough, and you will assure yourself of little disappointment.
I don't see how those involved in bashing each other over the heads with cutdowns and pointing out mistakes that are really irrelevant to anything being discussed could leave with a richer understanding of anything except maybe how much of a jerk we can all be at some times.
Valid point - I don't see that sorta thing advancing discussion and promoting the exchange of ideas either.
As per the membership agreement, it is a given that flaming, rude comments, and personal attacks are not acceptable here. Intellectually vacuous and snide slanders such as 'DemoRats' or 'REPUGlicans' (or local variants if you live elsewhere than the US) are completely unwelcome. Naturally, this also applies to discussions that are of a less political nature. But, actually, we ask more of you than those obvious and fundamental rules.
Consider that you are joing a community marked by good will and a shared committment to learn and to help others learn. Thus it is expected that all discussion participants will:
- read others' posts with care and deliberation
- strive to understand the position of those who disagree with you
- value your own experience and knowledge, and allow the same for others
- write your own posts with care and deliberation
As implied earlier, what we as individuals might prefer, what we might expect, and what we might encounter frequently are different things. That doesn't mean we should cease to prefer and expect as we do, just that we should be undismayed to find our expectations and preferences not fully met in the actions of other individuals. Again, this is an imperfect forum in an imperfect world. We can deny that, but that doesn't do much good. We can try to be bigger and louder and meaner and nastier than those whose attitudes and behaviors offend us, but that amplifies the problem rather than ameliorates it; never debate with an old fool, for he'll only drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
We as individuals can try to do the best we are able, presenting our interactions in a manner we feel is efficacious in regard to the advancement our position or the rebuttal of another's position, forming assessments and appraisals of the worth of the interactions of others on the merits of those interactions. There's not much we as individuals can do about what other folks do, but what we ourselves do, and what we do about what others do is entirely up to us. Choose to ignore the problem, choose to be part of the problem, or choose to be part of the solution - whichever, its your choice, and with choices come consequences.
I know each person here has there own individual reasons for posting and commenting in the way they do. And I am most certainly not trying to say that everyone here does this. Or that I, myself am not capabable of doing this. After all I am human. I hope I won't though. I will try my best not to, because this is my conviction:
To degrade someone because they believe different than you is wrong.
Absolutely; not only that, typically its also a violation of The Terms Of Service
, which, unlike Forum Guidelines - which are just guidelines - pretty much is The Law of The Website - the cans and can'ts, the dos and don'ts. If you notice something that you feel steps across the line, use the Report button at the upper right of each post and bring your concern to the attention of the volunteer staff here. This is a huge website, sometimes receiving hundreds of posts in an hour, thousands in a day. I'm sure the staff appreciates all the help it can get, and I'm sure the staff can't read every post as it comes in. If you see something you think the staff oughtta know about, let 'em know about it.
To criticize someone because they criticized you first is wrong.
Absolutely; see the above answer.
To look for ways to tear other people down because you feel they have done that to you... is wrong.
Absolutely; see the above answer again.
To be judgemental and condemning of what someone believes just because it isn't what you believe is wrong.
Well, kinda-sorta. Here we get to the nitty-gritty, the meat of the matter, the down-and-dirty reality of debate and discussion. Personal attacks - attacking the presenter, not the presentation, are pretty much right out - not only unpleasant, but rightfully unacceptable. However, any subject, any proposition, any statement, any position, any assertion is open to critique, criticism, assessment, evaluation, appraisl, acceptance, rejection, support, or refutation. Asserting that purple smells like a ringing telephone or that this or that political position or philosophic or religious proposition is ascendent over any other position or proposition invites discussion and dispute. If one has a case to present, one does well to present that case in such manner as to favor its being accepted by those to whom that case is presented, and one is well served to bear in mind one's case and/or its manner of presentation may encounter criticism, opposition, rejection, and even outright ridicule, based on the merits of that case and its presentation. If you have a toy you don't want others to play with, why bring it to the playground?
All these things do is hurt the person you are trying to help to understand your side of the story. It pushes them farther away from what the intended goal was. Forgive me if this has come off as being critical to anyone. That is not my intent. I merely want to point out that some things really are better left unsaid.
I just gotta ask - do you mean some things are best left unsaid - as in hatespeech, gratuitous vulgarity, personal invective, and the like, or do you mean that some positions or propositions are not to be disscussed, debated, challenged, and put to the test? If the former, I agree, wholeheartedly. If the latter, I think I begin to see something of the problem you perceive to exist.