Great Rules for Discussion
By David Henderson
I’ve been reading more about the “Deflategate” case than I ever would have imagined. It’s not because I’m a Patriots fan or a Patriots hater. I’m neither. It’s not because I’m a football fan. I’m not really; I don’t tend to watch whole football games until the playoffs and the NBA and especially the Golden State Warriors are what I’m passionate about.
But I do have a passion here: it’s a passionate that animates me in all parts of my life. It’s the passion for justice and fair play.
I started out sure that the Patriots “did it”: that is, that they cheated by having under inflated footballs. So my passion for fair play caused me to think the Patriots should be penalized. Now, having read some of the comments on the Wells report, even comments by people with no dog in the hunt, I’m not nearly as sure. And it does look as if the Wells report is one-sided. So now my passion is for Tom Brady to win his appeal and I think it’s appalling that Roger Goodell, whatever his legal rights, is setting himself up as the person to hear the appeal.
So, I’ve been following the discussions and I came across this informative discussion between lawyer Stephanie Stradley and blogger Zach Abramowitz. I recommend reading it, if you’re interested in the issue.
What does any of this have to do with Econlog? Here’s what: some markers that Ms. Stradley laid down for fruitful discussion. Here’s what caught my eye after some of the commenters got into the name calling, which, besides being fruitless, is incredibly boring and also causes the name callers to lose credibility quickly:
Stephanie Stradley: Personally, I prefer when comments talk about the topic and not attack or neener neener each other. That’s how I conduct things on my own blog, and it just makes for better conversation. Can I ask a favor and have everybody just talk what their viewpoint is, add links if you want, and just discuss this. I really do like to learn things, challenge my thinking with relevant blog comments.
Rich Champ: Well Steph…the thing is that it’s really hard to argue against ignorance in a nice way because they don’t get it then either. The other part of it is that sometimes you have to punch the bully in the nose.
Stephanie Stradley: Nah. It is easy to do that. It’s preferred on emotional topics Typically, the most persuasive writing is straightforward and doesn’t get overly personal. Really, please debate arguments not people.
“Nah, it’s easy to do that.” I love it.
By the way, her insisting on civility reminds me of this article I wrote some years ago about a discussion I had with a local politician.