About Comments...

...if there is an argument or discussion to be had, it should be about ideas and facts, not personalities.

While blogging is new adventure, I am not new to the blogosphere.

The most disappointing aspect of blogs, in general, seems to be the miriad of problems associated with offering countless opportunties for anyone to comment about anything and everything, compounded by the added cloak of anonymity that ‘facelessness’ provides. For this reason, I will not allow 'anonymous' commenters a platform through my blog. If you want to comment here - agree or disagree - you are going to have to own your position... even if it is only with a false identity for this purpose.

Additionally, while I remain in awe of the wealth of generosity, and of the depth of the human spirit humbly offered within the realm of blogging, I have also been deeply saddened when subjected to what so many people seem to rationalize as being ‘free speech’ or ‘passionate discourse’ – when in actual fact it is just plain rudeness running rampant. As I've read on many another blog, try to remember that you are visiting what amounts to the cyper equivalent of someone's living room, and conduct yourself accordingly.

While I will always honour anyone’s right to an opinion, I will not support any commentary in which all speakers are not equally respected. If there's an argument/discussion to be had, let it be about ideas and facts, not personalities. It's easy to forget that there is a living, breathing person behind a blog or a comment, and that the person has feelings that can be injured by an unkind, maybe even hateful, word. In the spirit of fostering an atmosphere of generosity, and of reflecting the best of humanity - and to invite the greatest diversity of opinion - I ask that you read the following rules for 'commentary' before commenting.

Thank you & WELCOME!

I very much look forward to sharing many fruitful, challenging, and thought-provoking discussions.

"He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak."

ALEX AND BRETT HARRIS are Christian teenagers with a passion for God and for their generation. At the age of 16 they founded what has now become one of the fastest growing Christian teen sites on the web today. Following in the footsteps of their family members, 18-year-old Alex and Brett are speaking out for God with a message to their own generation. Recipients of six national championships in high school speech and debate Alex & Brett are applying their gifts in communication to the challenge of exhorting their peers to stop wasting the teen years and to rebel against the low expectations of an ungodly culture. Check them out at The Rebelution. Obviously these two have never heard that "youth is wasted on the young!" They have generously provided the following guidelines for respectful commentary (I couldn't have said it better).

Commenting for "Newbies"
(... and A "Reminder" for the Rest of Us)

You Have Entered “The Comment Zone”
It is crucial to a vibrant and healthy comment section for participants to understand the purpose of discussion, and to possess a proper respect for their fellow contributors. Whether you maintain your own blog, comment on other blogger’s posts, or both, you have most likely been frustrated by the lack of proper argumentation and the seeming epidemic of disrespect, primarily among your opponents (Insight #1: They feel the same way towards you).

The truth is that we all can use a helpful reminder every so often as to how we should conduct ourselves in the high-intensity role of “the commentator’s commenter.” For that reason we present, “Commenting For ‘Newbies’ (A ‘Reminder’ For The Rest of Us),” as an invaluable resource for bloggers and their readers; an aide-mémoire, if you will. Yes, logic, evidence, and respect still exist and can be realized—even in your comment section.

The Purpose of Argumentation

Critical to proper argumentation is an understanding of why we argue; we argue in hopes of persuading dissenting opinions to conform to our own. If we disagree, it is because we think we are right and others are wrong. We take the time to discuss our disagreements in hopes of proving the validity of our views. It is frustrating, therefore, when we find ourselves perpetually clashing with our opponents, while making seemingly no headway towards our goal of changing their minds.

In fact, at times it can feel as if, were we to publicly claim that rabbits exist, our opponents would deny it; even if one hopped up, said, “What’s up, Doc?” and starting burrowing into their heads. How do we get past these confounding doldrums and arrive at a place from which the discussion can progress in an intelligent manner?

Here are three steps to improve your skills of argumentation:

Step One: Remember that your opponents have come to their conclusions using more or less the same rational process you have. The difference is not necessarily their intellect, but rather the information they had at their disposal and the values they hold.

Step Two: Understand that this means your opponent feels just as confident about the accuracy of his or her position as you do about yours, and will only be persuaded otherwise if you prove that their information or values are out of line.

Step Three: Realize that successful argumentation will only take place when you make it your goal to inform and persuade, by supplying additional bits (or chunks) of information and by addressing the values behind your opponent’s conclusions.

8 Principles For Logical & Respectful Discussion

The key to respectful, profitable argumentation is to respect others and to be respected. You respect others by acting civilly and arguing reasonably. You cause others to respect you by not acting like a fool in your manner or in your argumentation. Here are eight principles that allow you to do both:

NUMBER ONE: Understand the ‘classical’ view of tolerance

The classical view of tolerance lends itself much more readily to intelligent argumentation than does the modern view. It teaches that, while we may strongly disagree with dissenting opinions, we still treat the person behind those opinions with respect.
  • DO feel free to disagree, even strongly, with other people, and say so!
  • DO feel free to permanently demolish opposing viewpoints. (Good luck!)
  • DO NOT attempt to demolish opposing “people.”

NUMBER TWO: No ‘ad hominem’ attacks, you moron!

Nothing more quickly degenerates a discussion than when people start attacking those making the arguments rather than refuting the arguments themselves. Remember that the character, circumstances, or political ideology of the person has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the proposition being defended.
  • DO NOT stoop to name-calling (moron, idiot, etc.)
  • DO NOT imply negative monikers onto people simply because they disagree. (i.e. “Anyone who’s even slightly intelligent will believe that cows are people too.”)

NUMBER THREE: Eschew obscenity & prohibit profanity

The use of inappropriate language and shocking statements is a sure sign that the author lacks the ability to communicate their position in a calm and reasonable manner. It shows tremendous disdain for others and will not be allowed on respectable blogs.
  • DO NOT be upset when your comment is deleted for inappropriate language.
  • DO NOT be upset when you IP address is banned for multiple offenses.

NUMBER FOUR: He who asserts must prove

This is one of the most critical aspects of proper argumentation and requires that you carefully guard yourself from making groundless statements. Every proposition should be supported by either logic or evidence.

Logic includes everything from complex syllogisms to plain ol’ cause-and-effect. Evidence can take the form of examples, statistics, and/or quotations from authorities in the field. Supported arguments stand until refuted. Unsupported arguments do not deserve a response and might as well not exist.
  • DO feel free to confirm other people’s points without providing additional support.
  • DO NOT make additional arguments or publicize your disagreement with someone else’s position without providing adequate support.

NUMBER FIVE : Respond to the argument, not to the spelling

There is no surer sign of inadequacy on the part of a debater than when they take issue with some small “error” on the part of their opponent, while ignoring the main point/s their adversary is trying to make.

If you are unable to refute your opponent’s position, don’t insult his or her spelling, grammar, or insignificant deviations from fact. Your opponent is most likely correct, and their small errors have nothing to do with the overall truth or falsity of the proposition they defend. Don’t make a fool of yourself by being a sore loser.
  • DO feel free to point out significant errors that impact the validity of a claim.
  • DO NOT point out errors solely for the purpose of embarrassing your opponent.

NUMBER SIX: Debating When Less Is More

A common tactic adopted by inexperienced debaters is to ask a long series of questions that place an enormous burden on their opposition, without actually making any particular point. Such an approach is not only unfair to your opponent, but it really isn’t argumentation at all. These kinds of “question avalanches” can hardly be responded to in the confines of a comment section, but will often foster animosity.

The same is true of those with too much time on their hands (or a gift for speed writing) who present far too many arguments at one time in hopes of “burying” their opponent under the supposed “empirical” weight. Both of these abuses inhibit true argumentation and inevitably degrade the quality of a discussion. Respect yourself and your opponents at all times by using moderation in your argumentation and questioning.
  • DO feel free to ask pertinent and probing questions about your opponent’s position.
  • DO NOT expect answers for loaded questions.
  • DO NOT ask loaded questions.
  • DO feel free to make powerful and relevant arguments against your opponent’s position.
  • DO NOT expect answers to your 5-page tome.
  • DO NOT write 5 page tomes.

NUMBER SEVEN: Do your own research

Remember that your opponents are busy people who are taking time out of their day to discuss relevant issues with you. Do not place an excessive burden on them by requiring them to go “off-site” to read lengthy articles or study ancient philosophers, scientists, etc. If Aristotle makes “your” point then “you” should be able to make the argument. Your opponent certainly will not (and shouldn’t have to) make it for you.
  • DO feel free to provide links to outside sources for your opponent’s consideration.
  • DO NOT expect your opponent to read them unless you make them want to. (i.e. “If you go read Maxwell’s five-foot bookshelf, then you’d agree with me!” never works)
  • DO feel free to support your arguments with outside resources. Just make sure you summarize what the resource says. Otherwise your opponents will consider your argument unsupported until they go read/see the support. Which they most likely never will.

NUMBER EIGHT: The fallacy of the majority

When the majority of participants in a discussion hold your position, it is common to start acting as if the last seven principles no longer apply to you. You feel you can destroy the dissenter, along with their position, since you have so many like-minded chums. However, the majority has no more right to silence the opinion of a minority through disrespectful, improper argumentation, than the minority would have, if it were able, to silence the opinion of the majority using the same methods. Victory by means of respectful, logical argumentation is true victory. Victory by any other means is no victory at all.
  • DO feel free to destroy dissenting opinions using respectful, logical argumentation.
  • DO NOT silence dissenting opinions by majority “piranha attacks.”

NOTE: Provided that proper credit is given to my twin and me, the preceding guidelines are freely available for use by any bloggers wishing to do so. May they serve you well. See the original post. Soli deo gloria! (means: Our salvation for the glory of God alone)
Alex Jordan Harris

"You have not converted a man because you have silenced him."

Also worth reading (because apparently courtesy in the comment boxes cannot be stressed enough):

a lamp unto my feet . . . 
"Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all, shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us, written not in ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of human flesh.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us; rather, our qualification comes from God, who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter brings death, but the spirit gives life."


...If you'd like to express an opinion about my comments policy, you can do so here.

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