Tuesday, July 05, 2005

We are the same, only different

James Bow and Andrew at Bound by Gravity started it: a concerted effort to get bloggers of all political stripes to be civil, polite and to think of that which we hold in common, rather than what make us different.

I respect these two gentlemen and enjoy a challenge as well as the next person so here goes:


All of us political animals in the blogsphere share one main thing in common - we love Canada and wish to make it the best possible place to live. I know this is true of Andrew and James above, as well as DazzlinDino, ALW, wonderdog, Jason Cherniak, CalgaryObserver and daveberta, just to name a few from the blog lists on the right side of this page. I even think this applies to the more shrill among us like jeff, Richard Evans, Le Revue Gauche and Anonalogue. Deep down, despite the rhetoric, I think they really believe the things they write and comment on are for the betterment of Canada.

Where we differ? For the most part I think we differ on how to make Canada better, because we also differ on the what the problems are or the causes of the problems. So I see us all as trying to get to the same place, via different roads. And there will be times when all the roads cross and we all agree on something.

Now, knowing all this should, I hope we can move our debates away from personal attacks, over-generalizations and the general bitterness we have all experienced throughout the spring into more civil, rational discussion on the issues, or policies. I hope we can have debates and discussions that are fought with facts, statistics, evidence and even anecdotes, rather than strawmen, name-calling and large quanities of "look I just read [insert Ayn Rand or Karl Marx or other political philosophy book here] I'm an expert and you are a dummy" innuendo.

That being said, of course, I also think we should call it like it is and not be afraid to be firm and straightforward with those who use these negative tactics. I won't shy away from a good debate and I won't shy away from making someone look like a fool if that is what is needed. I will defend myself from ridiculous accusations - such as being in favour, somehow, of pedophila because I supported SSM or being anti-American because I don't like George Bush or his policies - and I will defend others of any political stripe suffering the same - such as the vicious attacks on Andrew and Mike Brock for daring to ask that the CPC focus on positive, policy based messages rather than messages that don't work.

Democracy and freedom work hand in hand with civility and cooperation. I think if we all agree on this, we can have something else in common.

So let's debate our various, differing ideas on how to make Canada a better place, and come up with the solutions we can all live with.

Is that so hard?

27 Comments:

At 4:39 PM, Blogger jeff said...

Civility is an honourable intention. The solution lies in quelling the ego and listening. Hard to do over a 'written' medium.
Responses, in this format are hard to 'read'. Perhaps the writer is being sarcastic, tongue in cheek, witty, silly even.....that is why I prefer one on one, face to face interaction. Facial expressions and gesticulation add so much to a conversation. The written format leaves alot to be desired.

 
At 5:25 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

Excellent post! Couldn't agree more! Silly name calling isn't debate.

kgp

 
At 9:12 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Albertanation,

While I too would enjoy that type of debate more, it is hard to do over the internet just yet. And yes, I think there are certainly people that would write something they would never have the courage or the 'cahones' to say to a person face-to-face. This can be both liberating and frustrating at the same time. That is why I think it is incumbant upon us to ensure we are very clear in our writing. 'Smilieys' and 'Winks' become as important as words and puntuation in getting the message across.

Kevin,

Thanks. It is one on the reasons I actually started the blog and it seemed like a good time to repeat it.

 
At 11:23 PM, Blogger Toronto Tory said...

You listed some solid blogs. However, at least one of the blogs in this post can be included among the most irrational, uncivil, mean-spirited blogs out there.

 
At 7:27 AM, Blogger Mike said...

Toronto Tory,

Well, I was actually listing posters to various comments sections and not nescesarily their blogs. And notice there are two lists. One I find (for the most part) to be rather civil, though occasionally not. The other I find, for the most part, to be uncivil. I think its clear which are which. I have found that comments and arguments made by one list to be pretty reasonable, although biting and satirical on occasion, and the comments and arguments of the other to be at best shrill and at worst downright hateful and irrational.

As Albertanation wrote, it is occasionally hard to sort out satire from serious writing. So I try very hard to imagine that what they are writing is satire.

 
At 1:47 PM, Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I'm all for civility, but I draw the line at the "let's concentrate on what we have in common" suggestion. Contrasting opinions are what makes the blogosphere go 'round. What I'd like to see more often is strong disagreement with an exemplary level of civility. It's not only possible; it's vital.

 
At 2:41 PM, Blogger Mike said...

True enough IP, but remembering the commonality lets us put things inperspective and lets us keep the disagreements civil, rather than vicious and childlike. I mean, just go over to MyBlahg and read some of the comments in there for an example of what to avoid.

I mean, I might respect Andrew, but I sure as hell don't agree with him on a lot of things. But remembering what we have in common helps me stay focused on the policy or the issue rather than the person.

And because of that, I try very hard not to even engage Richard.

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger Rick Barnes said...

"move our debates away from personal attacks, over-generalizations and the general bitterness"

Thanks for this. I do at times go over the line, it happens less often, especially if I re-read what I am about to post.

I have been managing a civil discussion with a conservative christian in kelowna, some of you were in on that. People were respectful and I hope I can stay on that road.

 
At 3:53 PM, Blogger ALW said...

Class is highly underrated in political discourse today. Perhaps if we set an example it will trickle up to the big fish?

 
At 6:46 PM, Anonymous calgary observer said...

Good article. In fact, I called for more civility on June 30 (http://calgaryobserver.blogs.com/blog/2005/06/on_political_be.html).

I stated there that we all essentially want the same thing (a better Canada), but take different roads to get there.

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger Mike said...

ALW,

We can only hope right?

CalgaryObserver,

Yeah, actually I think I commented on your thread. Ooop, I knew this all sounded familiar.

;)

 
At 10:46 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

"Class is highly underrated in political discourse today. Perhaps if we set an example it will trickle up to the big fish?"

Maybe. Maybe not. But still, it's good to be civil do just for the sake of it. Such angry name calling and personal attacks are not worthy of our democracy.

kgp

 
At 11:55 PM, Blogger DazzlinDino said...

You mean like locking ty-guy and jeff in a closet and see who wins...lol. Agreed Mike, a civil discussion is much more engaging than a big bitch-fest. I am also guilty of getting a little ticked once in a while, but for the most part I think I keep the tone fairly civil. I know we have had words on occasion, but I do in fact respect your opinion. I mean this would be no fun if we all agreed would it.

 
At 11:55 PM, Blogger DazzlinDino said...

You mean like locking ty-guy and jeff in a closet and see who wins...lol. Agreed Mike, a civil discussion is much more engaging than a big bitch-fest. I am also guilty of getting a little ticked once in a while, but for the most part I think I keep the tone fairly civil. I know we have had words on occasion, but I do in fact respect your opinion. I mean this would be no fun if we all agreed would it.

 
At 1:09 AM, Blogger daveberta said...

good post, mike!

I agree.

 
At 8:14 AM, Blogger Mike said...

Dazzlin,

Yeah well having words is ok, and the occasional outburst (I too am guilty) is forgivable, perhaps even acceptable under the right circumstances.

I've got my money on ti-guy, BTW.

 
At 8:18 PM, Blogger v said...

You are talking the talk that I've already walked and the fact that you cite me as a "shrill" blogger rather than someone with a demonstrated record of reaching out to The Other Side in a reasonably civil manner raises some questions about perspective. So do your recent comments on my blog.

We all have our moral blindspots; some more than others. Frankly I think many people lack the tools to make judgements about what is right and wrong so agreeing on what is civil and what is not will be problematic.

 
At 9:42 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Anon,
We've both been shrill in the past. You have been quite shrill over at MyBlahg, especially when you first started.

That being said, I have also had many insightful debates and exchanges with you. I was not trying to offend. You'll notice I put a lefty blogger on that list that is also a bit over the top on occasion.

Again, I'm not trying to lay blame on anyone. We've all done it, just some more than others. As for my recent comments on your blog, well, making them to you and to others is why I agreed with CO that something needs to be done - I'm falling into the trap, and I don't want to. The p[oint of this blog entry is to remind not just other, but myself to try very hard to be civil.

But we all know there are times...

 
At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Princess Monkey said...

Times like when nothing but a "big cup of STFU" will do? :0

Good for you Mike. You're only saying what the rest of us were thinkin. Sometimes STFU is the best one can do - but the rest of the time...best behaviour for sure. Rational reasoning demands it ;)

 
At 10:27 PM, Blogger Mike said...

PM
I never clained to be a perfect role model, I just claimed I'd try really hard. And unfortunately, when I think someone is misbehaving, after giving them lots of chances, that is what I will say.

At least I'm not claiming they are supporting pedophilia or something assinine like that.

 
At 11:48 PM, Anonymous Princess Monkey said...

Oh no - don't get me wrong. It drives me crazy sometimes how nice you are to some people. It's because you ARE so remarkably civil and rational in your discussions that a little STFU coming from you is actually refreshing - now I don't feel so bad for thinking it sometimes :)

 
At 12:23 AM, Blogger DazzlinDino said...

"I never clained to be a perfect role model, I just claimed I'd try really hard"

Oh great, now I gotta go look for a new role model, Princess, you available???? For a role model I mean ;)

 
At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Princess Monkey said...

"Oh great, now I gotta go look for a new role model, Princess, you available???? For a role model I mean ;)"

If I thought anyone could live up to me...

JUST KIDDING!!! :)

 
At 3:44 AM, Anonymous RationalBias said...

Yes lets all be nice and civil. We can all be happy little politicos in our warm and fuzzy little blogsphere. I for one say screw that. The right wing is a cancer on Democracy and I am not going to sit by and try to be civil with these hate-filled half-wits and let them destroy that greatest political system in history.

Does America's decent into Theocracy make you apoplectic and deeply deeply sad? Don't you want to stop them from doing the same here? Canada is the last beachhead of Democracy and Justice in North America. Now is the time to fight those who, either through ignorance or hostility, want to destroy Democracy with everything we have.

I will be civil with economic conservatives, but I will NEVER be civil with social conservatives. Democracy is worth fighting for.

</rant>

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger ToryBlue said...

It is important for those calling for civility to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. At least one of those who is commenting on this thread, as well as being mentioned in the post, has engaged in questionable and highly irrational behaviour towards other bloggers, including but certainly not limited to extreme name-calling and severely derogatory comments.

Lead by example.

 
At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

Is it just me or are right wing chicks cuter than left wing hippies.....I mean girls?

 
At 5:29 PM, Blogger Toronto Tory said...

Mike,

I understood completely which list was which. My comment stands.

Someone can't claim to "call for civility" and then call their opponents Nazis several times in the same week.

 

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