I agree with the suggestions found in Discourse’s guidelines for civil conversation. They’re very reasonable. For some reason you felt the need to add even more guidelines – things which were not mentioned in Discourse’s guidelines and I think I know why they were not mentioned there. The reason being that they seem unreasonable.
My purpose in writing this is to encourage thought regarding some of these extra rules. To begin on a positive note, I agree with not allowing name calling, ad hominem attacks, or combativeness. I agree with avoiding escalating arguments by pouring gasoline on the fire. Those are very sensible, reasonable rules which any fairly mature person should be able to follow.
After you wrote that, then things got a little unclear. I agree with the general principle of not antagonizing others; it’s a good principle. But then you added “even indirectly.” That’s unclear, or at least it is to me, and I suspect I’m not the only one who finds it unclear. How does one know if he’s antagonizing someone indirectly? Could you give a few examples to illustrate what you mean by “antagonizing someone indirectly”?
So that leads to the final rules: “Don’t post things that are offensive, obscene, or otherwise disrespectful.” Obscene and disrespectful are fairly clear cut concepts which are easy to understand. The problem with “Don’t post things that are offensive” is that is unless one has a crystal ball, he doesn’t know whether an opinion or observation he makes will be considered offensive to someone. I’m not referring to material which is blatantly offensive; I’m referring to things which one doesn’t find offensive in the least and posts without the intent of offending anybody.
The problem with trying to enforce a rule that requires forum members to not post things that are offensive is this: Everyone has different ideas of what they find offensive.
Offensive by what standard? Do you mean offensive based on the word of God, and if so, by which religion’s god? If they’re based on a particular man’s standards, what makes his standards any more valid than the standards of the next man? As human beings we’re all very fallible, so nobody’s standards are perfect. So to say one man’s set of standards for what is considered offensive is the best standard and the standard we must all abide by is bound to be controversial at best!
I have one more thing to add and this one is near and dear to a lot of our hearts and when I say “our”, I’m referring to fans of rock music, especially rock musicians. There are certain things that made me gravitate to the field of rock music decades ago and one of those is that rock ‘n roll has always been a place that has not only attracted outspoken people and rebels, but is a field where people who don’t necessarily fit in the mainstream of society have thrived! They’ve become legends and millionaires in the process and they didn’t do it by being meek, acquiescent people who always made sure to never do anything that might possibly offend someone. On the contrary, rock musicians tend to be some very outspoken people with very definite opinions about what they believe.
Axl Rose, Yngwie Malmsteen, Ritchie Blackmore, Ted Nugent and Gene Simmons are all very outspoken, strong minded men and as a result of their outspokenness, they’ve offended some people. Should they have been more meek, and acquiescent? I don’t think so. It’s hard to argue with success and all those men have been extremely successful, largely because they did things their way and had the guts to do things their way. People find men like them to be fascinating. It’s no wonder that a lot of these men are in constant demand for interviews both in print and on TV.
I have a strong feeling that if Gene Simmons or Ted Nugent were to join your forum under aliases, they’d soon be banned for being offensive! Yet I don’t find them offensive; I describe them as outspoken. The tradition of rock ’n’ roll pushing the standard of what some people consider offensive goes way back to the 1950s and Elvis Presley! Do you realize that not just thousands but millions of people nationwide found him incredibly offensive because he shook his hips when he sang? What if he’d given into their demands and had stopped doing it? He would have set a very dangerous precedent for the industry which would have been incredibly destructive for all those legendary bands who followed him and were trying to grow, to expand the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in rock music because they felt there was value in what they did and weren’t afraid of the millions of people asking them to back down and acquiesce to their holier than thou standards! These so-called (at the time anyway) “offensive men” have been role models and even idols to a lot of us because of the amazing music they gave us and because they had the guts to dare to be who they are! That has held true in rock ‘n’ roll from Elvis Presley to the hard rock icons like Ted Nugent and KISS, to so many of the heavy metal legends of more recent times.
Rock legends as disparate as Frank Zappa and Dee Snider actually went to Congress to testify before Tipper Gore’s PMRC committee which was formed because of how offensive they found the pop, rap and heavy metal music of the 80s. Those rock musicians stood up for what they believed in and put themselves and their reputations on the line because they had such strong conviction in what they believed – that for rock to remain a vital force it had to have the freedom to grow, the freedom to push the boundaries of what some considered offensive and the freedom to speak out against mainstream views because rebellion has always been the spirit and the backbone of rock ‘n’ roll! That goes hand in hand with the spirit our country was founded upon which began when we rebelled and revolted against the British by staging the Boston Tea Party and finished with us whipping the British in The Revolutionary War despite overwhelming odds against us!
You hold the power to eventually eliminate all outspoken people from your forum but is that really what you want? Do you want a forum where everything is “safe”, where nothing outspoken or controversial may be brought up on the slight chance it might possibly offend somebody? If you truly want your forum to grow, you’re going to want people with some outspoken, strong personalities who say what they mean and mean what they say! I find those types of people far easier to deal with than the types who will say one thing to your face and the opposite thing behind your back.
If your ideal forum poster is one who is so bland, so meek and so far from being the outspoken type such as the aforementioned musicians whom a large portion of your forum has grown to know and love over the years, I’m afraid you’re going to end up with a relatively, small, bland, and boring forum