These are the kinds of responses I’ve got for making various arguments.
If you criticise those who mock, deride and laugh at beauty pageant contestants, it’s because you want to sleep with said contestants. This despite the fact that you will probably never meet these women. Obviously, you have a sick fantasy that they will see your defense, purchase a one-way ticket to your foreign country, and fly over straight into you (and your girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s) bed.
If you criticise those who target innocent women unnecessarily, you think you’re better than all women, that women need men to defend them. This despite not having made mention of women’s abilities – or lack of thereof, apparently – at all.
If you criticse arguments which aim to eradicate all guns, you are a shrill for the NRA or other powerful organisations – despite not being an American citizen and having an Arabic name.
If you criticise people’s ideas and arguments, you are attacking their person – despite never having met, despite the fact that no matter who you are, a bad argument is a bad argument. Einstein saying the world is flat doesn’t change it’s shape.
Online engagements tend to be unhelpful to proper discussion – by which I mean allowing for proper treatment of other individuals and their viewpoints.
I fail to understand this need to act as though the person you’re dealing with is a genuine monster, is really trying to undermine your life and hurt those you love. This doesn’t mean such people don’t exist, only I don’t think it’s everyone who disagrees with you.
Online comments are of course notorious for bad communication and knee-jerk viciousness.
We’d be better off erring on the side of mistakes, looking toward the position that our opposition has simply not considered a new perspective or argument. However, I’ve noted that when trying to mount proper arguments, based on the other person’s incorrect arguments, you can end up being squeezed into the same room as those conveying unnecessarily nasty attacks (for example, name-calling, swearing, etc.)
Thus, even when you are not being nasty, the cloud of nastiness is all that’s seen from the opposition: your cause or view is no longer an entity that needs to be taken seriously by the other side. And thus, people’s positions don’t change and become more reinforced behind a cloud of anger and zeal.
Clarity is necessary. And clarity means proper communication. This doesn’t mean mockery, swearing and derision are never to be used. In certain forms of comedy, in sharp satire, they are powerful weapons that can highlight absurdity; derision and dismissal can have the same kind of effect when appropriately applied.
However, most of us are probably not very good at using these tools. And they can damage whatever cause we’re defending rather than elevate.
Again: there is no language or thought police at work. There is merely reflection on the best ways to communicate; this is about recognising that if you really think various causes matter more than your individual kicks, then you must be willing to undermine instanteous gratification of mocking someone who made a genuine silly argument.
(For example, I basically don’t read comments that have expletives in them because if you can’t communicate without expletives, I assume you’re not interested in conveying your idea to me: you’re more interested in expressing how angry or annoyed you are. Also, isn’t it more impressive to insult someone without expletives?)