Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Merits of Debate in The World of Blogs

I have been pretty critical of right-wingers in the past on this blog, justifiably so in some cases. However, kudos must go to Martin Simms, a guy who has been engaged in debate with me over the appropriate response to the situation in Iran. Suffice it to say, he tends towards the pre-emptive strike end of the spectrum. Although the debate was heated, sometimes perhaps too heated, it ended on good terms. Martin ended the debate with the following words:

Thank you for a wonderful debate, it was both educational and inspirational. Take care...Martin Sims Homepage 04.09.07 - 12:29 am #

A gracious an satisfactory way to end a debate. Martin was also kind enough to send me an email about the debate. He wrote:

Your points are shared by many, as are mine, but it is only through debate that reasonable people can come to understand where those with differing opinions are coming from. I do not think you are ignorant or evil because of your point of view, and I certainly hope that you do not think that I am ignorant or evil because of my point of view. I learned from our discussion as I trust you did, and it is just such an expansion of vision that I am most interested in fostering in myself and others...

Now, putting politics aside for one moment, this is what I truly respect. Many bloggers out there are not keen on opening up to a public debate. There are those out there who seek to shut down debate as it would expose their rather tenuous grip on the subject matter. Coincidentally, at around the same time as this debate, I discovered that I had been banned from commenting on another site, USS Neverdock. I have sent many comments to Marc at Neverdock in order to make a few points about the many things he posts on his site. Disappointingly, instead of engaging in debate, he simply refuses to publish anything that contradicts his viewpoint. That this amounts to a certain degree of totalitarianism (something he claims to oppose), seems entirely lost on him.

I would have far greater respect for bloggers such as Marc if they spent the time to explain their views. The fact that they broadly ignore anything that opposes their world view speaks volumes about how fearful they are that their arguments will be exposed and ridiculed in public. Instead of exposing themselves to scrutiny, they prefer to avoid the possibility altogether by indulging in censorship. What are they so afraid of? Are there views so under-developed that they cannot defend them against such scrutiny?? I sympathise to a degree, it can be very tempting to delete comments that you cannot argue against, but to do so suggests a level of intellectual bankruptcy. I try to employ a policy of allowing all comments on my site, unless they go over a very distinct line. I have deleted and banned one commenter who made anti-Semitic remarks about September 11th. I have also deleted defamatory remarks that claim that I am anti-Semitic. As far as I am concerned, along as the commenter doesn't indulge in racism or anti-Semitism, I will not delete their posts, no matter how deranged their point of view. For me that is the only way civilisation can develop. To debate and to argue different perspectives. Anything else is giving in to the ideals of totalitarianism.