I have no problem with knock-down, drag-out debate. But the key word is debate, which implies arguments invoking reason and evidence. For example, I let Bob Beauprez have it over his endorsement of health-insurance mandates. And I make a strong case against mandates. I don’t even mind some good, old fashioned name-calling, so long as the name has some plausible justification given the evidence presented. For instance, I suggested that some of the arguments of animal rights groups are dishonest, but only after I subjected those arguments to a lengthy critique that demonstrates my conclusion.
But too many people, especially in comments on blogs, are just nasty, without any justification. (That’s why I allow only moderated comments on my web pages.)
Consider the following e-mail that I received on October 21. It’s not worth quoting, except to offer an example of the sort of comments not worth quoting. Crandallsaz**ATSIGN**msn**DOT**com writes regarding a 7News piece featuring my wife and me:
I am so sick of people going on t.v. and saying, “It’s not enough, we cant live off food stamps”.
It was NEVER intended to be the full budget for any family. Food Stamps is intended to HELP pay for groceries, not pay for ALL groceries. It is a subsidy.
On the other hand, I just saw the piece on 7 News, and I don’t believe for a second that those two lived on their claimed budget. We don’t get food stamps, and follow the ads & coupons carefully, never even considering buying higher end things like steak, etc. and there is no way in hell a couple could live off of less than $200 per month. I consider that claim a bold-faced lie. And one more thing, what an IDIOTIC statement that was, to eliminate food stamps all together and rely on hand outs. That moronic idiot needs to spend 12 months working at Social Services to get a grip of reality. That little man is FAR out of touch with reality. Like a spoiled child.
Brian in Evans.
You are quite mistaken, and your rudeness is uncalled for.
You can see every single food receipt, and an itemized list of all food items purchased, for the month of August, at the following web page.
Please do not write to me again unless you can communicate civilly.
Brian in Evans replied, “You are an ARROGANT IDIOT. You’re Arrogance is sickening.”
So, after calling me a liar without a shred of evidence, and after receiving from me overwhelming proof of the veracity of my claims, Brian accuses me of sickening arrogance. I mean, come on.
Unfortunately, gratuitous rudeness is not restricted to e-mails and blog commentary. Here are some choice quotes from Doug Giles from his recent column at Townhall.com:
How to Shut Up an Atheist if You Must
By Doug Giles
Saturday, October 20, 2007
… Suck, for you thick atheists, is a slang word which means to make or to be really, really crappy (kind of like how our culture becomes anytime you guys mess with it). …
…prissy anti-Christs… pissy God haters… no-God numb nuts… comfortable and cocky atheist…
[E]verywhere I go and speak — be it in conferences, on the radio, on television or in print — I’m going to encourage the tens of thousands of Christians I address that every time and everywhere they get crapped on by an atheist with unfounded arguments to open their mouths and slam dance them with facts found in these two new brilliant books from Regnery [by Dinesh D’Souza and Robert Hutchinson].
Yes, I can feel the love of Christ descend upon me through the words of Doug Giles.
At least Giles does offer some arguments presented by others. (They aren’t very good arguments, but that’s a subject of another post.) For Giles, though, these arguments become weapons of propaganda, intended not to win an honest and spirited debate, but to “shut up” the other side.