A note on civility
While reading Josh Chafetz’s take on the Atrios-Luskin dust-up, I came across this Chafetz post from earlier this month on “the norms of civility.” These paragraphs are worth repeating: Are people really so sure of themselves that they simply cannot acknowledge that anyone who disagrees could be intelligent? Have they no humility whatsoever? Of course ...
While reading Josh Chafetz's take on the Atrios-Luskin dust-up, I came across this Chafetz post from earlier this month on "the norms of civility." These paragraphs are worth repeating:
While reading Josh Chafetz’s take on the Atrios-Luskin dust-up, I came across this Chafetz post from earlier this month on “the norms of civility.” These paragraphs are worth repeating:
Are people really so sure of themselves that they simply cannot acknowledge that anyone who disagrees could be intelligent? Have they no humility whatsoever? Of course we all think we’re right — if we didn’t think we were right, we’d change our opinions until we did. Maybe I’m just naive, but it really does amaze me when people claim that everyone who disagrees with them (on topics where general opinion is relatively divided — I’m not talking about largely uncontroversial opinions like “slavery is wrong”) is either malevolent, stupid, or both. Why is it so hard to acknowledge that, on almost every issue, there are people on both sides who are both intelligent and well-meaning? That doesn’t mean that neither side is right, or that you should give up arguing for your side. It just means paying the other side some respect, listening to their position, trying honestly to grapple with it. I’m not saying that there aren’t malevolent and/or stupid people out there — but they’re on both sides of every issue, and on almost no issue is everyone on one side stupid and/or malevolent. It’s fine to point out when someone is saying something stupid (or when someone is being malevolent). If they’re malevolent and/or stupid often enough, it’s fine to conclude that they, as people, are malevolent and/or stupid. But to conclude that everyone who disagrees with you is ipso facto malevolent and/or stupid … well, I envy your certainty, but you frighten me. That kind of certainty is precisely what extremist movements of all kinds — left and right — are made of.
Indeed. UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has an update on the Atrios/Luskin episode that contains a slightly different take.
[W]hile comments are nice, they do pose a problem. When you have a lot of comments, it’s very difficult to police them. I loved The Fray at Slate, — but it had Moira Redmond riding herd on it full time. What blogger can do that? And the real enemy of a blogger isn’t trolls who disagree, but the commenters on “your side” who go over-the-top. And comments sections tend to breed that sort of extreme commentary, it seems. That’s not a reason why people shouldn’t have comments, necessarily, but it’s a downside.
So you’re dissing your own readers now?–ed. Actually, no, because A) 99% of the comments have been civil; and B) None of the readers agrees is on “my side” consistently enough fall into this category. If I had Glenn’s traffic, though, I’d probably abstain from having a comments section as well. Andrew Northrup has a good post on this as well.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
More from Foreign Policy
Saudi-Iranian Détente Is a Wake-Up Call for America
The peace plan is a big deal—and it’s no accident that China brokered it.
The U.S.-Israel Relationship No Longer Makes Sense
If Israel and its supporters want the country to continue receiving U.S. largesse, they will need to come up with a new narrative.
Putin Is Trapped in the Sunk-Cost Fallacy of War
Moscow is grasping for meaning in a meaningless invasion.
How China’s Saudi-Iran Deal Can Serve U.S. Interests
And why there’s less to Beijing’s diplomatic breakthrough than meets the eye.