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Are you so sure this kind of conversation is not at least a norm? I know some number of gay people who have come out to parents or others who think they disapprove of homosexuality. Those conversations can degenerate into vitriol, of course, but when people have a stake in maintaining an ongoing relationship, they often can speak both candidly and kindly.

What is less common in our society is for total strangers, especially on a quasi-anonymous medium like the internet, to make the effort to be polite. As I noted in my comment below, Chad started out being civil; it would have been remarkably churlish for people who work on this show not to have shown him the courtesy he initially extended. It may be remarkable that Chad made the effort to be so polite when he felt the deepest affections of his soul were under attack, so bravo to Chad.

On today's show, the topic was torture, & it touched on the infamous Milgram experiments, in which some -- but not all -- of the subjects gave faux subjects increasingly strong electrical shocks. Tippett observed that it was too bad no one ever studied the people who refused to administer the additional shocks. Another point the show touched on was the tendency of people to be willing to mistreat others if there were essentially two sets of rules & institutional authorities seemed to tolerate cruelty.

Doesn't this, to some extent, apply to civility, especially on the internet? Who are the people like Chad who refuse to just rant & make demands, but who instead present polite, reasoned arguments? What can we do to foster that in others? Are there institutional changes we can make to facilitate that? I suggest at least one place we look is in the norms for internet discourse. People can be polite & they often are -- when they are face to face. Shouldn't we celebrate & seek to reinforce that norm & push for it in other contexts, such as the internet?