I had this long post going about how disagreements work. How they get started. How they get out of hand. I was going to get all philosophical and stuff. And then I realized I'm no better at arguments than anyone else is - so why am I trying to give any advice to the Internets?
And then I knew. Because I hate to see it. I hate to see the temper, the accusations, the recriminations. I hate to see the trolls win; given any credence at all. I dislike seeing the exposed nerves of friends poked and prodded by the needles of inconsiderate people(?) who have no higher ambition than to spread hate and intolerance.
There are contrarians out there. People who enjoy little more than getting an argument started and then stepping back to watch the fur fly. People who will adopt a position in opposition just because it's there - and they can get the shit started. People who will look for a vulnerability just so they can exploit it.
Honest discourse is not what this is about. People can disagree about stuff and it doesn't have to result in the emotional pain and misery I have seen out here. Honest discourse doesn't lead to that. Mean, demeaning, spiteful argument does.
I suppose what I'm saying is - cut the trolls off. Delete their comments. If people say things that go beyond honest disagreement - if they call names or use hateful terms and adjectives, inappropriate to the topic, cut them off. Delete their comments. Do not respond to them. Don't give them the voice they don't deserve.
In that longer post that I deleted, I referenced the fact that, as a former tavern owner, I learned that public discussions of Politics and Religion almost never end well. That's why I don't, normally, talk about those things here. That's why I never allowed those things to get started in my tavern.
As blog owners, we are in control of our content. We know when what we want to talk about just might start an argument that doesn't want to end well. All I'm saying, is do so with caution, with care, and with the expectation of argument. Be prepared to keep argument within the bounds of polite discussion. Be prepared to delete comments which you know to be outside those limits. It's your blog. If you're going to put something out there that's going to, potentially, lead to argument, use Comment Moderation, so you can head off the issues before they get out of hand. It's your blog. You have control. You have final say. Don't let the trolls win.