A retired professor friend of mine, who is sick and tired of the mindless emotionalism of others passing as arguments, created a set of rules for his Facebook wall for those who follow and comment.
RULES OF MY WALL
1) Friends may feel free to contest anything I post. BUT there are rules of engagement that your must adhere to otherwise, if you do not I may either delete your utterance or in obdurate cases defriend as being a friend without redeeming significance. There is a reason why there is a “like” button but no “Dislike” If you dislike something say why specifically.
2) NO profanity or gratuitous snarl words., courtesy meet for my advanced age.
4) Do NOT comment on a post you have not read.
5) Assertions are not facts, nor words merely expressing your view point, logic.
6) If I ask a question you MUST ANSWER it BEFORE preceeding to the next assertion. E.G if you say something is “ridiculous,” I may ask you why you think that. If you assert that I “support BO,” I will definitely ask you WHAT EXACTLY I said that made you think that.
If you say you support Newt, I may ask you if you agree with him on this or that point to ascertain how much you know about your candidate. You MUST answer before making your next point.
7) No hit and run snarl word without supporting specific facts, not unsupported opinion or glittering generalizations. I will abide by these same rules on your wall and your postings.
I like these rules, especially number six. Some people use the selective ignoring of key inconvenient facts as a means of calculated aggression, some are just creatures of raw emotion and block out whatever causes cognitive dissonance.
Also on number six, lots of people say on Facebook “If you don’t agree with me” or “If you don’t support candidate X, then you are just trying to get Obama re-elected”. In most cases that is pure idiocy unless you can back it up with a very good argument.
The fact that such common sense rules are needed is an indication of something that we have lost in society. Why? In the days of the old partisan press, when each town had at least two newspapers with different points of view, people would talk about these differences at the barber shop and the soda shop thus enjoying exercise in debate of the issues of the day regularly. Today if people get half a centimeter out of their comfort zone they can just change the channel or click and button and poof the discomfort is gone. If they cannot do that they pulled the “I’m offended!” card. Pardon me, but I prefer clarity to comfort.
I had this problem with some young professors at IU; said professors could not tell the difference between the sting of an inconvenient truth presented directly and someone being uncivil and nasty. There were several times that I had to explain the difference to a professor when they made this error, which sometimes just enraged them even more.
Fortunately I published my own student newspaper which was very popular so most of the faculty feared my First Amendment ability to sound the alarm. Some Marxist professors were pretty brave until they realized I would be willing to quote them exactly in the student paper. Of course, the professor who appreciated good scholarship and legit debate had nothing to fear from me. Some students would publish grossly unfair things in the official student paper, but in my paper, which was published by older “non traditional” students, we had very high standards because we knew that the administration would use any excuse to attack us.