Civil discourse and our goals at Main Street Plaza
We dont need to stoop to insults to win debates; reality is on our side. And there are many people out there who are willing to listen to logic and evidence, when presented reasonably and in good faith. We should always presume that people who disagree with us are amenable to reasonable discussion, until proven otherwise.
Via kuri, I’ve just read a great post on being polite and being right. I’ve always held that tact and honesty aren’t mutually exclusive, and Sean does an excellent job of explaining why. There are just a couple of points I’d add to what he said:
Sean is specifically addressing atheists (in the context of a long-running debate about how to talk to religious people), but I think it’s useful to generalize Sean’s above quote. In an exchange of ideas, fair play favors the side that’s right. So if you think you’re right (about any given subject), you have no reason to fear a reasonable dialog with people whose ideas on the subject are different than your own. To give a concrete example, Main Street Plaza links to many faithful LDS blogs (and engages in discussions with the faithful Bloggernacle blogs), and they demonstrate confidence in their own position by being unafraid to link back to us. Plus, there’s another advantage to being open to civil dialog: when/if you’re wrong (or just slightly mistaken), you’re more likely to figure it out through civil discussion with those who disagree than you are by sitting in an echo chamber and engaging outsiders only through shouting matches.
(That’s why the one type of action by the CoJCoL-dS that really angers me is when they stoop to rhetorical games to try to shut up their critics, cf. here and here.)
The comment policy at Main Street Plaza has been to allow all viewpoints. I understand Recovery from Mormonism is filling a different role/niche than MSP in the grand ecosystem of discourse about Mormonism, so I don’t think their policy of deleting “TBM” comments is wrong — their policy is right for their goal of recovery just as allowing such comments here is right for our goal of dialog. (I don’t think we’ve deleted any non-spam comments or banned anyone so far. If a comment is insufficiently civil, we just follow it up with a quick moderator’s remark. However, I’ve heard people argue that silent deletion of comments is better than moderator remarks, so if people here prefer that type of moderation, we can discuss it.)
I was quite pleased to see that we got some very thoughtful, civil responses to a civil dissenting comment the other day. So, from my perspective, it looks like things are going well here. However — since this is a community blog — my opinion isn’t the only one that counts. Do you have any suggestions or criticisms for Main Street Plaza, or ideas about where there’s room for improvement?