Supporting civility and moderation isn’t a particularly popular stance in some quarters, and I’ve seen a few people take a bit of heat for doing so. I’ve even seen people who each support civility and moderation get into little online tiffs with one another over the finer details. That said, I remain supportive of everyone who remains committed to an open and civil dialogue, notwithstanding the variations in their respective approaches. I remain opposed to those who practice the politics of personal destruction, whether by flaming, flame-baiting, defaming, or by slapping bigoted and conclusory labels on perceived adversaries. I also remain in a constant state of trying to will myself out of the latter category and into the former, which is why I need the sort of friends who will help keep me accountable.
One of these people, of course, is Ed Clint. His site-wide comment policy here at Skeptic Ink demands a certain level of basic consideration, noting that “no position worth defending requires the sacrifice of either manners or respect for other people” and he will let you know if you’ve crossed the line.
Another one of the people who helps me keep myself in check is Dan Fincke, as you might well expect. I’ve previously written about how a personal committment to civil discourse seems to me a viable path forward, and I commend him on his willingness to engage directly and politely with those with whom he disagrees, such as this recent discussion with Justin Vacula.
Another person who has been moving forward in building up a middle ground for freethought is Tim Skellett. If you haven’t see this yet, he is striving to carve out a space where it is acceptable to forcefully but civilly argue about the most sensitive issues, even the ones that sharply divide the community. So far, it’s been a lively place, and though most of the action is going on behind the digital curtains, rather than in the public forum, I expect that will probably shift over time.
I’m confident these three men have significant differences when we get down to details, since everyone draws moral lines for themselves, but I am strongly encouraged to see that each of them are helping to curate a community of freethought that engages in vigorous discussion while respecting the people involved.