Polite society, opinion, commentary, and this weblog

From comments heard lately, it appears that there are folks who do not think this weblog belongs in a polite society. Some want it to be censored completely. Others say they disagree with some unspecified things it says. These people do not engage in the conversation directly. They also do not appear to discern the nature or intent of this weblog.

Nearly all of the entries in this log would be considered commentary and not opinion. They say “Hey! look at this.” or “check this out.” The advocacy is for intellectual integrity and responsibility in viewpoint and its expression.

What is particularly interesting is that the weblog is seen as having a political slant. The implication is that there is a perception of a political divide in regards to the pursuit of intellectual integrity and honesty in debate.

There have been several issues that show that both sides can get wound up in an escape from reality. But the perception of this weblog reveals that these are considered exceptions and not the norm. Both sides are not the same in this area, whatever those sides may be.

How can we expect, as a people, to make good decisions when one side of the debate is not as worried about the reality of its views as the other?

It is one thing to be unable to have reasonable and rational discourse. It is another when differences lead to destructive behavior. When a ‘win at any cost’ ethic loses sight of the greater good and when bigotry and intolerance lead to escalating segregation, then we all suffer. This can happen on a national scale and it can happen in local groups. It is a civic responsibility of each and every one of us to be responsible for our own behaviors and to make sure we are open to learning from others.

Do you set yourself apart from some group because your common interest is outweighed by other differences?

Are you thinking critically and skeptically about your own perceptions?

Do you avoid the ad hominem, the straw man, and other poorly regarded debate tactics?

Is your goal to learn or is it to win?

Do you make judgments about people and their character or are you observing actual behaviors?

Are you fully aware of your presumptions and assumptions and careful to continually test them against reality?

Do you aggregate people into groups and assign behaviors or do you stick to specific individuals and what they say or do? How do you deal with generalizations of behaviors that do define a group?

There is this concept called cognitive dissonance that says people who are in the process of learning can experience discomfort which sometimes shows in unproductive behavior. Let us hope that much of this rumor and innuendo being expressed is cognitive dissonance. We can then encourage advancing the learning process, engaging in the discussion (see email link at upper right of page), and bring society together instead of tearing it apart.

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