A note about civility, rules, and this blog

I haven’t felt the need to clarify this before because it wasn’t generally necessary, but as time has gone on I have seen the need grow to be clear about what sort of posts I allow on this blog. Part of the reason haven’t felt that need is because I am a pretty easy going person. I have been debating and discussing relevant spiritual, social, and political issues for thirty years. I have personally and virtually engaged at least hundreds, if not thousands, of people of all sorts – atheists, agnostics, Marxists, liberals, libertarians, anarchists, gay-activists, etc. And 99% of the time if someone can present their ideas with a modicum of reason and logic, I’ll interact with them with in the same manner. This is not to say that discussions shouldn’t be robust – I am fairly vociferous in my defense of certain ideas. I don’t suffer fools easily, and tend to pursue ideas to their ruthless logical conclusions. Nonetheless, I make an effort to deal with ideas, not personalities, because this blog isn’t about me or who I like or don’t like, but what is true and real and right. I can strongly disagree with a person, even a group of people, and not hate them – in fact, as a Christian I am obligated not to hate others.

 Of course, this being the net, not everyone is reasonable and or logical. Some prefer to approach discussion on a much more visceral level – the level of hatred, of personal invective utilizing the foulest language. And as a staunch defender of the 1st amendment where it is properly applied, to the written and spoken word, I think that even the nastiest folks should be allowed to express themselves in the written word. In fact I think allowing them to do so is a benefit in that such public expression allows the civil to identify and ostracize certain people from reasonable society. It is through such expression that one can easily identify those who are confident in their ideas, and can defend them through sustained argument and ordered thought, and those whose ideas are merely an excuse for a lack of civility or morality, as evidenced by their inability to express them without resorting to personal attack.

 And as someone who is unafraid to take on the toughest ideas, and reasonably defend my own faith, I have often been the subject of such attacks. I am regularly called names, I have had my life threatened, had my family threatened, and been falsely accused of all manner of acts. It’s a risk one takes when publishing one’s thoughts online; it’s one I have been willing to take because I believe truth and freedom are worth it.

 And I have not always been perfect in my responses – I am fiercely protective of my family, of those I see as the weaker elements of society – the elderly, the unborn, those who are physically impaired or who don’t fit our society’s ideas of beauty. I am also not above mocking claims that are foolish on their face, particularly when made by those who are obviously full of themselves; I am no stranger to snark. I give no excuses for that, but I do admit to reacting to those I should otherwise ignore because not every statement deserves a response. Often the best response we can give to the foolish is to not take notice of them at all – they are the authors of their own destruction, and it isn’t necessary for the civil to sully themselves with interaction with them. 

 To that end I need to make clear a few simple rules I have here – one’s that I have always had, but didn’t feel the need to make public before, but now feel compelled to.

 First off I filter foul language – if you can’t say anything without dropping the f-bomb or referring to a body part in the crudest of terms, then it won’t get posted here. It is a pretty simple rule for most to follow, but some can’t seem to help themselves.

 Secondly, I don’t post personal attacks or responses to them. This blog isn’t about people, it’s about ideas. Now I acknowledge some public figures are associated with certain ideas, and their names inevitably come up as a result, but that is not what I am referring to. I am referring to posts which consist primarily of calling someone a name, or of referring to an individual out of personal animus or desire for revenge. If one wants to engage in a name calling contest then one can find an elementary schoolyard or publish one’s own free blog – I don’t have the time or patience to deal with it here.

 And along with that readers should know I never call or email strangers or people who I interact with online. Because I have a family, and community, and career outside of what I publish, I don’t intermingle one with the other. Other than a few I have met over the years that I call friends (the real sort, not just the Facebook variety) I never call or encourage others to call anyone they interact with on the web. Other than being potentially creepy, the sad fact is that there are people on the web whose beliefs and politics are such that they would do harm to others. In fact that is one of my issues with so called ‘new’ atheism – it seems to encourage fringe elements to confront others in potentially violent ways. Of course most atheists are perfectly pleasant people, but I think it’s good to be wary.

 So that was longer than I intended – but I just wanted to clarify a few simple rules that won’t affect the vast majority of people who post here, but which will hopefully keep the conversation civil and sane.


7 Responses to A note about civility, rules, and this blog

  1. Bettawrekonize says:

    “and tend to pursue ideas to their ruthless logical conclusions.”

    This is why I want you back at Crosswalk, because I do the same exact thing and I insist upon making every effort to reach this point and you have contributed much to my thoughts regardless of the extent that we agree with each other. Get yourself back, you were such a great contribution there.

  2. Bettawrekonize says:

    “I have had my life threatened, had my family threatened, and been falsely accused of all manner of acts.”

    Of course, and yet you seem to dislike the idea of Internet anonymity? There is good reason for anonymity to exist.

  3. jackhudson says:

    True – though I think being publicly identifiable adds some weight to what I say. But I often wonder if it is worth the risk.

  4. Bettawrekonize says:

    “the sad fact is that there are people on the web whose beliefs and politics are such that they would do harm to others.”

    Absolutely, which is more reason I believe in internet anonymity. I don’t necessarily see anything wrong with chat rooms, chats (ie: IRC channels are full of people that chat with each other and remain anonymous, often chatting about issues from computer help to politics, etc…), instant messages, or even E – Mails to some extent, but I do believe that people should be allowed to keep their identity a secret. Interestingly, your blog does require one to put their E – mail address but you don’t provide an E – Mail addresses.

  5. Bettawrekonize says:

    Another thing is that I often want to ask peoples (ie: your) opinion about a specific topic but the problem with a blog is that I’m confined to the topics of the thread. Of course blogs have their advantages but they also have their disadvantages. On a message board anyone can start their own topic, people often have a wider array of topics to read and respond to, and anyone is free to respond. Presumably if you or anyone else thinks s/he has a formulated opinion on a subject matter s/he can respond as well. This is one of the shortcomings of a blog. Also, on the crosswalk message board I can see how your position responds to a wider array of opposing positions that I myself may not consider or counter with, especially if it’s an opposing position I do not hold. This could better help me either defend my beliefs or find a more defensible position and I can see how others respond to various opposing positions as well. Perhaps your blog can have a “running thread” where anyone can ask any questions or discuss anything? Or perhaps every once in a while post a new “open thread” for anyone to discuss anything, like open discussion threads. That would probably be beneficial.

  6. Bettawrekonize says:

    “True – though I think being publicly identifiable adds some weight to what I say. But I often wonder if it is worth the risk.”

    Well, as of now you have already identified yourself so your choices are limited. Your online identity, position, and reputation for holding a reasonable position and reasonably defending it is established. You can either stop posting, you can continue posting as Jhudson, or you can try and change your online identity.

    Of course the last maybe difficult to do without changing your position at this point because once people know who you are and what your unique position is they maybe able to re – identify you with your posts. You would also have to change your writing style to some extent to avoid being identified.

    So my question is this. If you could do it over, knowing what you know now, would you still reveal your identity again? Or would you start all over with a consistent pseudoname revealing your consistent position and remaining anonymous?

  7. jackhudson says:

    Hmmm…hard to say not having ever really posted anonymously, I really don’t know how it would change what I post. I would worry that I would be tempted to be less civil.

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