How Would You Keep Conversation Civil Without Cutting Off Debate?
With political opponents frequently viewing each others’ opinions as immoral, Patch wants to know when you think speech crosses over from an attack on an issue to an attack on a group of people.
Partisan rhetoric is nothing new—especially when election season rolls around. Still, the trends of this election season have a good case for being, if not unprecedented, at least uncommon. While hyperpartisans have long crossed swords over ideology, many of the issues at play in this election have opponents debating morality.
Gay marriage supporters argue that criticism of their position constitutes bigotry and hate speech, equivalent to racism and anti-Semitism. Catholics say those critical of the church’s social positions are intolerant of their faith. Evangelicals, Mormons, Muslims and Scientologists have all raised similar objections when their faith came under scrutiny.
Patch hasn’t been immune from this controversy. We’ve been criticized for both providing a forum for gay marriage supporters and for highlighting comments from a gay marriage opponent.
Our goal here at Patch is to provide a place for readers to share their thoughts. This is often about local issues: How much should a community raise taxes? Is a project a good fit for a neighborhood? Does an ordinance need to be changed?
But our communities don’t exist in a vacuum. National issues resonate on local streets. The same morality debates occurring across the country have a place on Patch.
That’s why we want to know what you think. When does speech cross over from an attack on an issue to an attack on a group of people? How would you balance the need for civil dialog with vigorous debate on key issues? How would you allow diverse opinions and still keep the conversation polite? What speech, if any, should be off limits? Tell us what you think in the comments below.