“Tact” wrote Voltaire, “is the art of making a point without making an enemy.”
Many political discussions on the FCNA list are welcome.
(This includes local and national politics, and rarely — but in some cases — “world politics”)
However, there is a universal tendency on the Internet for political discussions to flare up into hostile “flame wars”.
Four Simple Guidelines
All comments about politics should:
1. Be respectful to other persons.
2. Be factual — you may always report the facts, and never “hearsay”.
3. Be free from abrasive language.
(Unfortunately, this a subjective factor, and there are times when the List Manager must make the decision whether or not the member’s language is too abrasive for the list. You can usually avoid abrasive language, by following guideline number 4, below … )
4. Praise and support your own candidate, rather than bashing another candidate.
Advice From Robert Reich
On September 8, 2014, Robert Reich (creator of the film “Inequality for All”) wrote some insightful words on his FaceBook page …
I have a conservative friend with whom I make a point to have lunch at least once a month. Why? I like him but that’s not the main reason. He makes me think. In forcing me defend my assumptions and ideas, he gets me to examine them more deeply. I hope I do the same for him. One of the biggest problems in America today is most of us live in ideological cocoons surrounded by people who think like us. Yet there is no better way to learn than to talk to someone who disagrees with you.
Sincere and respectful discussions and dialogues help us to think more clearly, and to make better decisions. And whenever it is done well — in the Socratic spirit of searching together for truth — talking brings us closer together.
FCNA List Manager
Postscript by Robert Reich:
Yesterday I urged you to talk with people who disagree with you. That requires respectful engagement. But I’m not suggesting you waste your time on people who are willfully ignorant. The six signs of willful ignorance:
(1) The person you’re debating uses nastiness as a substitute for thought;
(2) attacks the source of an argument rather than the argument’s merits;
(3) claims causation from mere correlation (e.g., a rooster’s crowing makes sun rise);
(4) disputes facts on which there’s an overwhelming scientific or historical consensus (evolution, climate change, widening inequality, the Holocaust);
(5) blames or stereotypes entire groups of people;
(6) repeats the same point without responding to arguments or information you provide.
Did I leave anything out?