Let me preface my comments by acknowledging that I'm not a veteran participant in the political or religious debates that take place here.
I've read a great deal of them and commented when I felt that I had something to add. I appreciate the information links/articles that are generally presented at the beginning of each thread, regardless of the agenda of the article.
What I find unfortunate is the rapid escalation, of seemingly all of the threads, into ad hominem laced diatribes.
I touched on this in an earlier post and have been mulling it over for the past few days; Do you think that the political polarization that dominates American politics is detrimental for public awareness and degrades true intellectual debate?
What I think is being lost in this polarization is some recognition by either side that their position is not infallible and that the other side is indeed contributing something of value.
There seems to no longer be a discussion on the relative pros and cons of any decision or policy, or at least very little recognition of it in the political forum. I'm not saying that this does not occur at all. I have seen a number of forum contributors that are gracious in debate and feel confident enough to present their side of an issue, acknowledge the other side's points and then counter with what they believe is a point that takes precedence.
I would like to thank contributors such as Boston, Zeb and Zap in particular for the manner in which they conduct themselves in debate. I find that I lend a lot more credence to their posts, as they seem to be amongst the few who consistently are able to articulate their positions without resorting to name calling and infantile tantrums.
I would also like to point out that in general I disagree with at least half of what they post, but I think it is only fair to acknowledge their enrichment of my forum experience.
Their are a large number of other posters, on either side of the political divide, that I also find insightful, however I often find that they are easily drawn into name calling games by the attacks of the few truly ignorant amongst us.
I will probably be told that I should toughen up when I "come down here" to discuss politics, and that may be true, but my point is that toughening up doesn't mean closing your mind.
Nothing degrades my opinion of a post, and hence the poster, than the use of terms like Thinktard, Ass Clown, Red Neck, DemoRAT, Rethuglican, etc. While these labels are fun to say, they do nothing to advance the dialogue and they seem to be used more and more readily lately.
I know that I don't have to read the posts if I don't like them, but my point is that I do enjoy reading the genuine debates, when they do occur, and I just wish that they would happen more often and be maintained at a higher level.
I know that there a lot of intelligent members here and I think that what I'm really saying is that it would be best if we just ignored the trolls and name callers instead of responding to their ignorance. They're like scavengers, if you don't feed them they'll go elsewhere.
If you truly feel that the person you're arguing with is a total idiot, why are you responding to his statements? I don't go up to the nut job shouting at the crowds out on the street and engage him in debate. Do you?
For those of you posting informative links and contributing thoughtful, incisive dialogue, thank you.
For the rest of us, try and lead by example, I find the arguments to be more convincing and thought provoking when their primary content isn't:
You are a twat!"
(I had to end with a shout out to Dane Cook, he rocks)