I’ve got a bunch of things on my plate to date, so this isn’t going to be the long post I’d like it to be, but here it goes anyway: I think Dan Fincke’s “civility pledge” is horribly wrong-headed, for a number of reasons, including:
- I think there’s a certain level of being-taken-seriously that needs to be earned, rather than being something everyone’s entitled to. Of course, that raises the question of “what level?” I don’t have time for a long answer, but my postson reading charitably may give an idea of what I mean.
- Actually, I’ll say this much: not everyone is entitled to the assumption that they have something worthwhile to say. Some people don’t, and all you can do with them is either try to get them to see why their wrong or else ignore them. You shouldn’t be trying to persuade people to adopt your views at all costs, but there are situations where having persuasion as your main goal is fine. Like Russell Blackford, I think that in some of those situations “ignore” may be the better option, but that’s a pragmatic one, not an issue of “civility.”
- The fact that we may not strictly “need” to use certain words (say, “asshole”) doesn’t keep them from often being useful, even the best word for the job in some situations.
- Words like “asshole” worry me far less than careless accusations of lying, misogyny, etc. Which is not to say I don’t think such charges should be made when justified, as anyone who’s followed my blogging on William Lane Craig knows.