Debating isn't about winners and losers. That's sports. Debating is about having a point of view and the ability to defend it. If you want to score points, be popular and "win" you're playing the wrong game.
As a member of
for a couple of years now I find I have to raise my game when I'm dealing with many of the posters here because they are well-read, articulate, informed and passionate. What I think is unfortunate is when people confuse the Chris Matthews/Bill O' Reilly style of "discussion" with the real thing. Being opinionated is one thing. Trying to pound others into submission by being the loudest and most obnoxious is something else.
If we're playing the label game, I'll freely admit to falling on the side of the Left side of the aisle. But despite what a few conservatives might believe, I'm not a Yellow Dog Democrat where everything Democratic/Left is good and everything Republican/Conservative is bad. That's both overly simplistic and totally wrong. There are good conservatives and bad liberals and I think I'm smart enough to tell them apart.
I don't know if there are more liberals than conservatives on the board, but what I do know is that people post when they FEEL like they have something to say. Look back in the aftermath of the 2004 Presidential Elections. There were those on one side of the political equation that could hardly contain their chortling pleasure over George Bush's reelection, while those who backed John Kerry were in a deep funk that left them barely able to function after such a disappointing defeat.
Most people post when they are angry, upset, mad or concerned about something. The Republicans have found it's a lot easier to be an opposition
party than a governing
party. The same thing has trickled down to the board. If a lot of the more conservative posters aren't posting, perhaps it reflects their own unhappiness with President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress. On the other hand, Democrats and liberals are feeling a bit more optimistic about their chances in November and that sense of renewal plays out on this board as well.
Yet, responses to my provocative posts almost ALWAYS contain personal attacks against me. I'm either crazy, naive, uneducated, or "know everything". There is no end to snide comments, put-downs, and personal attacks against "LH" in these posts. There are three posters in particular who apparently believe it's their sacred duty to bash me into oblivion or chase me from this forum. Frankly, my skin is more than thick enough to take it and the fact that they routinely attack me just points out the weakness in their arguments.
America has a strong tradition of "Free Speech". In contrast to what the left typically mean by this (dissenting and left wing views are allowed only), I believe this works both ways.
I don't know if I'm one of those "three posters in particular" but I find the notion rather quaint that there are those whom lie in wait in hope that a given individual wlll say something---ANYTHING--that will tick them off. Please. As I have said before, some of us take ourselves way too seriously. There's a certain amount of your own personality that comes through in a post and some folks here I would probably dislike as much in person as I do from their posts. However, I don't go out of my way to hunt down anyone's posts looking to start a flame war. That just seems like a serious case of "need to get a life."
If you don't believe it, when you're on your lunch hour at work, just TRY and start a conversation when your buddy about how you pounded the crap out of someone in a thread on America's Debate. Don't be surprised though if they look at you like you've just fallen out of a tree. Either that or their eyes might glaze over in sheer boredom and they start snoring.
What we do here just isn't that important to anyone not here.
There are posters whom I find their contributions to be boring, poorly written, badly thought out and just plain dull. I treat their posts the same way I do Adam Sandler movies and Kenny G smooth jazz: I avoid them and find life is much richer for doing so. On the flip side, other members have a habit of delivering the goods with posts that are smart and well-written and as a fan of the written word I'm a big fan of people who have their stuff together like that.
people whom I find their posters to be utterly worthless are overt racists and bigots, spammers and "hit and run" single-issue types who breeze through, knock over the furniture, raise blood pressure and take off as soon as they are exposed as the shallow idiots they are.
When you post on America's Debate and you don't have your facts straight you can expect someone to correct you and not always in a way that doesn't crush your ego. There are a lot of ways to totally demolish someone's argument and
call them a babbling fool without ever using the words. I'm sorry that some people consider themselves personally attacked when all I'm doing is pointing out the structural flaws in their rhetorical house of cards.
Is there a certain perverse pleasure in intellectually stripping someone naked? Sure. It's fun too. But there's nothing stylish about CALLING someone a jerk. It's infinitely more satisfying when you do it with a little flair, panache and style
But most of all, if you lighten up and don't tighten up, the ride's a lot less bumpy and a lot more fun. Sometimes you serve and sometimes you get
served, but that's just the way of the world and America's Debate. What Mike
did here was create not a tea party, but a debating class and in debating classes there are rules. The fact that I haven't been run off the board (yet) is at times a source of wonder to me----and a perplexing irritant to others.
Personally, I think I'm less
strident, less of an absolutist, less of a knee-jerk liberal and more
accommodating, open-minded and respectful of opinions and viewpoints that run counter to my own. However, with that increased tolerance has also come a greater confidence in my own views and beliefs as well. They've been battle-tested on this board and if you're shaky on your core beliefs you find there are posters here who can completely pick them apart before your eyes.
If you don't want to get splashed by the big kids, better stay in the shallow end of the pool. There are plenty of other boards out there that will welcome you. Me? I like the fact that there are people here who will agree with me on one day and point out when I'm totally full of it the next. It's like that bar on Cheers
where everybody not only knows your name, they know your game and you had better bring your "A" game or you're going to get your feelings hurt and your ego bruised.