Online Attacks And Productive Discourse
Editorial Board | Nov. 18, 2016, 10:32 a.m.
TSL's online comment section can be a lively space, full of debate and discourse. Web readers weigh in on a number of articles from our Opinions, News, and Life & Style sections, voicing their thoughts and feelings about our coverage of events. Let us be clear; this is encouraged. With this in mind, and especially in light of the debate inspired by last week’s election, we're taking this week to emphasize the importance of civility and respectful online debates. Members of our campus community and those who read our content all come from different ideologies and political backgrounds, and neither side should be ostracized or criticized for their opinions. The respectful exchange of ideas is essential.
We want our publication to inspire discussions in response to campus events, and we encourage our readers to engage each other and our staff in the comments feature of our website. We've recently seen a number of one-sided discussions on campus where liberal students gang up on conservative classmates in a mean-spirited, and frankly, counterproductive manner. This is not acceptable. Not only does this enforce the stereotype that "liberals" or progressives are closed-minded and dismissive of others' opinions, but oversimplifies the conversation. Each of these topics is more nuanced than that. It is easy to criticize, complain, and attack others about an opposing view, but to actually think about it and engage it is the admirable thing to do.
Personal attacks and other forms of cruelty do not promote productive dialogue. In fact, violent rhetoric only exacerbates political and ideological divisions between opposing perspectives. Quite honestly, no one wants to listen to someone after they've called them an idiot or stupid. As stated in our online community guidelines, commenters who attack other people will be asked to edit or remove their statements. Given a lack of response or flat-out refusal, we will edit or remove the comment ourselves. As we've stated before: debate the ideas, not the people. Work for your argument, fight for it, and defend it. Don't bully others behind the comfort and safety of your keyboard, deriding other readers. We're all adults here. Act like one.