Clifton Park

For public debates, think of kindergarten

Following rules isn't society's problem


While it has become common to decry the strong increase in objectionable language and in overall contentiousness in our society recently, the conclusion drawn by most regarding a solution has been way off base. Some merely raise their voices in order to shout down the opinions with which they disagree, automatically ending discussion with their views ascendant. 

Others go further and call the character, ethics and even heritage of their opponents into question with personal attacks. The desire is, of course, to so impugn these opponents so that anything they say will be ignored by others, leaving them without an audience. Still another tack is to disregard any semblance of truth and toss wholly fraudulent accusations around, thus poisoning the credibility of those people who disagree for the foreseeable future. Another popular tactic is to shame an opponent by leveling an accusation based on currently “politically correct” ways of thinking, thus making that opponent persona non grata. 

The real solution is just remember what you learned in kindergarten: Shouting is bad manners; lying is bad manners; personal insults are bad manners. Ladies and gentlemen, we suffer not from an increase in political disagreements (just read a little bit about 19th century politics), but instead from a lack of manners. 

Goodness gracious, if you wouldn’t say (or tweet, or include it in the “comments” after an internet posting, or post it on Facebook, or put it on a sign and parade around with it) something to, or about, your sweet, elderly grandmother, you shouldn’t say it about anyone. If you wouldn’t want your own mother hearing you say something, then don’t say it. If you can’t follow the rules you learned in kindergarten, you are the problem.

Rob Dickson

Clifton Park

Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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