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Tuesday, February 1, 2005
For Want of Reasonable Dialogue
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:33 am

Ann Althouse laments her “sad experience” with the seeming lack of desire of many in the Blogosphere to engage in useful, rational, reasonable debate. (I assume it was this that got her attention-mostly because of the innovation of the term “wingnut”-which struck me as unnecessary).

I share this lament (as I have noted here and here-the second post being more indicative of my general disappointment as I wrote it after a polite invitation to serious discussion was declined in a very exclusionary way-i.e., that the left needed to talk to the left only about the issues in question).

Certainly we all get caught up in our “side” of issues, but usually the world isn’t really confined to two clear “sides.” More likely than not there is a spectrum of positions on a given topic and sometimes the only way (certainly, normally at least, the best way) to fully understand an issue is through vigorous discussion. Why is it that so many are afraid of that? (and I don’t cast this critique at any particular portion of the ideological spectrum).

We should all remember that while our party system requires, on balance, dichotomization-the real world doesn’t. To re-iterate a point I made in regards to the Iraqi elections (at the bottom of this), and an idea that some day I plan to better develop: politics isn’t a football game in which every action is about advancing towards a score to the detriment of the other “team.”

And while I certainly have partisan preferences, the promotion thereof are not my main goal here (and granted, many blogs exist to promote not the discussion of politics, or the promotion of a given set of philosophical positions, but, rather, hardcore partisanship, and that is part of the problem). I blog primarily because I enjoy it, but I really do like the idea of contributing to a broader political discourse. I am willing to engage in debate, accept criticism and to adjust my thinking over time (I don’t subtitle this place “A Rough Draft of My Thought” for solely whimsical reasons).

We should not caricature bloggers based on whom it was they voted for in November, or whether they support the Iraq War or not (which seems to be the simplified lenses through which many-including pundits, professors and politicians-view the world). Such a stance on the complexities of the given political views of a specific individual is ludicrous in the extreme. Indeed: if any who read this, for example, actually feel that they are perfectly represented in every way by the ideological positions and policy outputs of their political party of preference, drop me a line, as I would like to chat with such a rarity.

(Also: Ann makes some interesting observations about left and right in the Blogosphere in her experiences at any rate).


Filed under: Political Philosophy/ Theory, Blogging | |Send TrackBack

Outside The Beltway linked with Comments on Blogs: Left vs. Right
f/k/a . . . . linked with open web, closed minds
Arguing with signposts... » When we don’t have anything else to talk about .. linked with [...] s note the hostility toward reasoned debate by those on the other side of the aisle (e.g., Steven Taylor and Ann Althouse). I must admit that I find the discussion somewhat fascinating becaus [...]


  1. open web, closed minds
    This evening, U.

    Trackback by f/k/a . . . . — Tuesday, February 1, 2005 @ 11:41 am

  2. Comments on Blogs: Left vs. Right
    Although the timing is perhaps a bit unfortunate, given the overnight onslaught of comment spam that hit many blogs, Duncan “Atrios” Black and Kevin Drum make a very interesting observation: Many bloggers who laud the “self-corrective” nature of th…

    Trackback by Outside The Beltway — Tuesday, February 1, 2005 @ 12:53 pm

  3. In the 23 Dec post you reference, Kevin Drum is listed as on of the lefty bloggers who “argues well.” You go on to say that you find him (and others) “annoying, sarcastice, or even dead wrong.” Which is it in the case of the post in which he attaches the term “wingnut” to Prof. Althouse?

    Comment by Drew — Tuesday, February 1, 2005 @ 3:56 pm

  4. It IS possible for left and right to have a debate without name-calling from opposite ends of the playground. We seem to be doing quite nicely over at Newshog if our comments are anything to go by.

    Regards, Cernig

    Comment by Cernig — Tuesday, February 1, 2005 @ 5:56 pm

  5. Drew,

    Likely all three.

    Your point?

    Comment by Steven Taylor — Tuesday, February 1, 2005 @ 6:42 pm

  6. My point is that civility is overrated. I mean, Kevin Drum insults Ann Althouse in a very lazy attempt to dismiss her post because he doesn’t like the content, while indulging in some rather uncivl name-calling, and you do not even name him in this post because you are too civil to give him the four-letter Anglo-Saxon appellation he deserves along with a dent in his vaunted credibility.

    Besides, if I worried about civilty I could never enjoy Tim Blair or Mark Steyn. Neither gentleman is particularly civil but both are sharp-witted and make some great points while being funny at the same time. They share Mr. Drum’s uncivil toungue, while he shares neither their wit nor their humor. I have no problem with this distinction.

    Comment by Drew — Tuesday, February 1, 2005 @ 8:05 pm

  7. Gotcha.

    I wouldn’t argue that we should pursue civility for civility’s sake, and agree that sharp commentary is ofen wholly acceptable. And I futher understand that sometimes people are rude and all that.

    Still, I don’t think it is healthy to only hang with our own peeps, so to speak. There is a point at which a conversation is a good thing.

    I normally can tolerate Drum, but I also think he can be very annoying.

    Comment by Steven Taylor — Tuesday, February 1, 2005 @ 8:24 pm

  8. […] s note the hostility toward reasoned debate by those on the other side of the aisle (e.g., Steven Taylor and Ann Althouse). I must admit that I find the discussion somewhat fascinating becaus […]

    Pingback by Arguing with signposts... » When we don’t have anything else to talk about .. — Tuesday, February 1, 2005 @ 10:37 pm

  9. We’ve had some very spirited conversations, both at VC and over on JetNoise before I left. There has been quite a bit of disagreement, both between conservatives and between conservatives and liberals who’ve shown up to troll (and were surprised when they weren’t banned).

    And we’ve even had regulars who were liberal - not easy when most of us are fairly conservative, at least fiscally if not always on social issues. Many of my regulars are Libertarians, which has occasioned some nice arguments.

    We have our spats, but everyone kisses at the end and makes up. My only rule is no ad hominems, and no swearing directed at your opponent, other than the odd slip-up, which we’re all prone to. This doesn’t seem too much to ask of reasonable adults.

    Without discussion, I don’t think I’d want to blog. And without other viewpoints, why discuss? It all gets a tad incestuous after a while.

    Comment by Cassandra — Wednesday, February 2, 2005 @ 6:08 pm

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