Stomper: How to Play Nice in the Comments Section (But Bring a Knife Just in Case)

Knife-Fight-Movie-Wallpaper-2Sometime back, knowing I’m a political junkie, Hearne extended the offer for me to write a piece on a political topic of my choice…

Being new to KCC at the time and unsure of my ability to  tolerate the abuse that I saw inflicted on all the other contributors, I declined. Plus, I didn’t, and still don’t want to reveal my name.  As Craig Glazer and others have correctly stated, if you’re going to go out publicly and spew opinions, it’s chicken shit to hide behind an alias.  Ok, I’ll admit I’m a chicken shit.

However after several months of participating in exchanges, sizing up many of the commenters, and generally developing a thicker skin, I asked Hearne to let me offer a piece.

I’ve seen Dwight Sutherland consistently offer meaty pieces and while I rarely agree with his political positions, he’s brought political topics and a quality level of reasoned and thoughtful comments to the forefront.  Paul Wilson, David  ScottWhinery, Esquire, and even our esteemed administrator have also generated some great exchanges.

It was Mark Valentine’s comment about personal attacks that got me reconsidering the offer and putting together a few thoughts. 

Obviously politics crosses a huge spectrum.  It’s loaded with nuances and an almost infinite level of hypocrisy on both sides, creating strange examples of common ground – bedfellows if you will – i.e. Rand Paul and Nancy Pelosi on social issues.

There’s simply no way to address, or even acknowledge all the nooks and crannies here but hopefully it’s a start.  I’ve tried to keep my “liberal rhetoric” to a minimum, but, with apologies to Leslie Gore, “It’s My Party”.   With that said, here’s a few thoughts on how to best conduct civil political discourse here on KC Confidential.

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1. RECOGNIZE THAT IT ALL COMES DOWN TO WHAT YOU SEE AS THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT — The U.S.  has a two party system and each side has basic premises. I think for the most part, those who have at least passing interest in politics know enough about the differences to know which side of the divide they fall on.

What should the federal government be involved in and what shouldn’t they be involved in?  Where is the line drawn between the rights of the individual and the rights of the group?   Generally the GOP/Conservative side favors smaller, limited government and taxes should therefore be as low as possible.  The private sector and the market should dictate outcomes.  Individual responsibility.  Not the job of government to solve every problem (who decides what is a problem?) and any regulation if at all, should be minimal and limited. Laissez faire and let the chips fall.

Generally, democrats/liberals feel the need for a strong central government and that government has an obligation to address issues that confront the nation but that the private sector won’t, can’t and shouldn’t deal with. I know this is an oversimplification and there will be disagreement with what I said from both sides.

With the exception of the most extreme libertarian, almost all would agree the government has an obligation to provide for the common defense of the country.  Next on the list of existing common ground between the left and right would probably be the maintenance of the infrastructure. Interstate highway system, bridges, ports, etc. Too far past this point on the list means you’re approaching the line between the two sides and entering the “liberal dark side.”

8985883-largeThis debate between active government vs. limited government goes all the way back to the constitutional convention.

If the convention was a sporting event and you were a Republican, small government guy that was transported back in time as a fan, you’d be rooting for the team led by Thomas Jefferson.  If you went back as Democrat, favoring a stronger central government, your team would be led by James Madison.  ach side had some pretty impressive players. Thankfully for us today, this contest, after multiple overtimes, ended in a tie.  Maybe compromise is the better description of the outcome. If you’re going to enter the arena and offer your opinion, know which side you are on and why.

SmearPoopBags_012.WHEN DEBATING A POINT, AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, TRY TO KEEP IT ABOUT THE ISSUE AND THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT, AND NOT ABOUT PERSONALITIES — I’ve said this before here but as a liberal, to me, the absolute worst Democrat is always better than the absolute best Republican and that is because pretty much every Democrat shares my view of the role of government.

Back in 2008, President Obama was way down the list of Democrats I supported as potential candidates for the nomination.  Probably not even in the top five.  Once he won the nomination, my vote was sealed.

Al_gore_sweats-sex-attack-sex-scandalBack in 2000, on a strictly personal level and politics aside, I thought George Bush was a nice guy.  I thought Al Gore was a pompous ass (still do).  But I supported the platform that Gore ran on so he got my vote.

Beyond the issues of defense/foreign policy, and maintenance of the infrastructure mentioned above the major issues I see that require a level of proactivity on the part of our citizens include the following;  jobs, the economy (while there is some link, those are two separate issues), cost of and access to healthcare, education, fair playing field in the financial markets, cost of and access to sources of energy, safety of our foods and drugs and the environment. Certainly a number of others as well.

Do you think we have a problem in a particular area?

Does it deserve action and should the government play any role in attempting to address the problem?

While it’s not always possible, try to separate personalities from the issue when you present your point of view. 

nixonLet’s take healthcare as an example.  The Affordable Care Act has been dubbed Obamacare and the debate seems to center on the man, not the basic issue.  The issue of having the federal government involved in the healthcare of citizens was first proposed by a Republican president over 100 years ago. And it’s been a front burner issue with Presidents Nixon and Clinton among other presidents in the time since.  The issue has been seriously discussed by both sides over the past century and we’ve even made a little progress over time in working across the aisle ( i.e. Bush legislation to reduce the Medicare prescription donut hole). 

To make the discussion on this topic, or any topic for that matter focus on an individual personality as opposed to the issue itself takes away from the level of debate. Don’t mix, or confuse individual personalities with issues. (Side note, if you’re going to use words to describe your point or your opponent’s point, make sure you know the definition.  Socialism is a perfect example)

 

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3. DON’T INSULT. RESPECT THE OPPOSING VIEW AND LOOK FOR COMMON GROUND — Seems so obvious but even the professionals in Washington, DC and state legislatures haven’t learned this lesson.  Accept that the other guy loves the country as much as you do and he honestly feels his view, and how he sees the role of government, is what’s best for the US.

Research your opponent’s point of view.  Don’t just get your news from sources that are tilted to your perspective.  Go to the opposing station, website, blog, etc. and spend some time there.  Avoid the standard, rhetorical insults as it certainly reduces any chance of getting the other guy to move.  Be willing to compromise or accept the validity of a point made by the other guy.  I know that sometimes the other guy displays what Dude  (I think it was Dude) correctly identified as epistemic closure, such a fanatical link with the positional rhetoric and adolescent talking points of his side that he is mentally unable to consider any facts that don’t support his position. He can talk but he can’t listen.

At that point it can be hard to resist a barb but try to make that a last resort.

If you have to hit a nail, try to use a velvet hammer.  We’ve got plenty of commenters here, on both sides, that don’t hesitate to insult or come with personal attacks.  Let’s try to play nice.

Then again, some people just like to fight with knives.

 Ok, that’s all I got.

Thanks and remember to tip your waitress.

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34 Responses to Stomper: How to Play Nice in the Comments Section (But Bring a Knife Just in Case)

  1. expat says:

    Nice writing. Personally I disagree with your rules – even if you give two people the exact same set of facts they will come to different conclusions about them, because of personality, temperament, personal history, etc. How much effort do you expect people to make to understand Harley’s ‘arguments’?

    • Stomper says:

      Rules is such a constrictive word. These are really just suggestions. I’m good with people taking the same set of “facts” and coming to different conclusions. Makes for great debate.

  2. BS on Both Sides of the Isle says:

    Then i am curious: When you state:
    What should the federal government be involved in and what shouldn’t they be involved in? Where is the line drawn between the rights of the individual and the rights of the group? Many would state that these very questions are addressed in the Constitution. Which party would these individuals be classified?

    There is a fundamental problem with each party. Neither is acting in the best interest of the people. They have divided themselves to addressing “needs” (agendas) of their financial backers. Securing votes at all costs at the price of truth to secure power of individual or the party. With each “oversight” of the rule of law and circumventing legislative processes you further lose the republic.

    Even though there were differences within the founding fathers and framers I would challenge that a constituency that just “towed” the party line was ever their vision.

    • Stomper says:

      Good points, BS. I told myself before writing this piece that I wasn’t going to jump back in with replies but I see now I won’t be able to hold back. I’m certainly no constitutional scholar but I think you’re right about the founders. They were coming off the failure of the Articles of Confederation and the debate was about what powers to give the Central and what to leave with the states. No party line to tow, just trying to get the country running. I also agree with your second paragraph completely, both parties today are flawed. With regards to your first paragraph, I believe the constitution is a living document and what was written over 200 years ago in no way could have contemplated events and situations today.

      • BS on Both Sides of the Isle says:

        If the Constitution is a living document then so too is the Bible. Which I’m certain will not be re-written anytime soon. Lets not forget the Constitution has provisions for amendment but “leadership”, and I use that term for lack of another, understands that there is no support for that and has deconstructed the legislative process to avoid that debate. For instance if “healthcare” is the right of the people then I would feel an amendment and it’s necessary provisions for its passage are prudent. However, that was too much work and subject to far too much debate.

        • Stomper says:

          Again, I’m no Bible expert either but it took almost 2000 years to write. If one would read it cover to cover they would find a lot of room for debate on certain issues. Even today the Pope is proposing another look at celibacy. That fits my definition of a living document.

  3. Sad and pathetic is the Party line says:

    Statistically:
    Examining the three chambers of government (Presidency, Senate, House) and looking at the political parties that controlled those chambers you get the following since 1945 – 2009 (33 total sessions)
    Democrats controlled all 3 chambers 11 times
    Democrats controlled 2/3’s of the chambers 11 times
    22 of 33 sessions the Democratic party had controlled 2/3’s or all of the legislative process.

    It would seem the “state” of things could squarely be laid upon those that have had the most control over the legislative process. (Democrats)

    Now if your towing the party line of course that’s a good thing. If your of the opposing view then of course your party can’t resonate with the masses to get elected. If of course you are dismayed by the current state of affairs then it’s clear who should receive the blame.

  4. Bob says:

    Stomper –

    I’m not sure why people worry about anonymous comments. It is the internet. It is 30 second venting and then it is over. The internet is middle aged now. Nobody really takes comments as anything other than people killing time at work.

    Nice post.

  5. paulwilsonkc says:

    I was going to go off on a faux rant because I knew you’d get it, but I’d rather simply say, nicely done, sir. Thanks for the fleeting mention.

    • Stomper says:

      Always great to hear from the Professor. I have missed your contributions. No one can write it like you.

      • Jim says:

        Stomper, nice job. I always enjoy reading opposing opinions when they are well articulated and intelligently reasoned. A good rant is OK on occasion, but it must be written in a way that makes it a fun/interesting read. The internet has given voice to millions upon millions of people that otherwise had no outlet to express their opinions. Too bad that so many of those voices are like fingernails on a chalkboard. I so enjoy a good velvet hammer. Kudos.

  6. chuck says:

    “Judges “have no warrant to pursue a reform agenda that is not grounded in the Constitution, and they should not aim to be theorists or crowd-pleasers. Let judges be judges, for if they are not our legal system as we know it will fade away.”

    S. Alito

    “Living Document”

    The Constitution came to fruition over the dead bodies of American Patriots. A confluence of guts, self sacrifice, genius and luck, gave us the United States Constitution.

    The preservation of the Constitution, as it was written and as it should be enforced, is now threatened by liberal mind readers elected by the New Demographik, akin to Sylvia Browne, who, as their minions await, maJically reveal the REAL thoughts and purpose of our Founding Fathers when they penned that great document. Unwilling to fullfill thier sworn duties to enforce the Constitution, unhappy by way of personal politics with the Constitution and unable to resist the conciet accorded to those in this Amerika who have lawlessly given power to activist judges to warp the Constitution, those same activist judges, destroy the Constitution.

    I liked it better when Slyvia Browne just told me what my dead father was thinking.

    • Stomper says:

      Oooh, I hit a nerve there, didn’t I? I’m expecting about a dozen links to the American Thinker website shortly. Always great to hear from you too, Chuck.

      • chuck says:

        Not so Stomper. I LOVED this article from the Huff Post, which you always recommend.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/02/william-nicholson-12-years-a-slave-mandela_n_5433798.html

        It really is perfect. This article says so much about the “Narrative”. Let me, recommend it to you!! I read it three times and it is a keeper!

        There are some great articles on the Kartrashians too, but, this one, oh baby.

        • Stomper says:

          Thanks Chuck, glad to know you are continuing to read the “Good Book”. However I’m not quite ready to jump back to your “anti-hero” Mandela. Rather, I’d like to offer a few reasons why I think the constitution is a living document.

          The founders specifically addressed in the document a method to amend it in future years. To me that says they knew it would be an evolving blueprint for the nation to follow.

          The founders wrote in the document that Congress has the power to “regulate commerce” but then did not specifically define commerce. They understood that commerce would expand rapidly and future legislators and jurists would define it to fit the needs of a growing country. SCOTUS has used the Commerce Clause and it’s initial shallow definition ever since to shape the changing document. That tells me they intended it to be a living document.

          Before the ink was barely dry, John Marshall and his court began the steady stream of courts interpreting the meaning of the document to fit the current situation. The founders, including Madison and Jefferson were there at the time, watching their creation taking it’s first steps. That says to me they intended it to be a living document.

          Just sayin’

          • chuck says:

            “The founders specifically addressed in the document a method to amend it in future years.”

            I agree. The Constitution was meant to be modified by the Amendment Process, not by the whim and caprice of activist judges who operate at the discretion of political pressure in conjunction with personal belief.

            Noted is the picture from “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.” In an article encouraging civility in the comments, the knife fight reference doesn’t lack for irony. Butch tells Sundance to kill his opponent if he loses, then kicks him in the jewels. That “Velvet Hammer”, decency is weaponized in pursuit of an American liberal hegemony now at hand. The accepted presumption by the Main Stream Media of the Liberal high ground in any argument, assigns an assumption of callous indifference to those in disagreement with those on the left, claiming “The debate is over.”

            Maybe it is. Harley is right. Those who vote for a living for Bread and Circus Democrats are now, and will be, for the foreseeable future at the helm of this ship of state. Demographics and identity politics have already determined the outcome of the debate and the culture war. I can only assume that the conversation now, assuages the guilt of those who should know that nothing comes free.

            Maybe things will be better in Bolivia.

          • Stomper says:

            Thanks Chuck, I think the velvet hammer should work for both sides. There are just as many on the right that think “the debate is over” as on the left. No offense intended but you seem to be one that thinks the debate is over from your perspective. On your second point, I am not so naive to think people don’t fight with knives in political discussions. We’ve got more than a few knives flying from both sides here at KCC and that will never stop either here or in the general public arena. With regards to your final point, obviously the demographics are changing. The GOP needs to retool their message to reach the changing demographics. Just doing something about immigration would substantially level the playing field here. Don’t give up, Chuck, work within the system to have the GOP appeal to those on the edges.

          • expat says:

            Stomper you write well but your reasoning is muddled as usual. Hispanics don’t vote and when they do they vote Democrat, because like other non-Asian minorities they know which party is the bread and circus party. Doing “something” about immigration (don’t be bashful, we know you mean amnesty) and allowing a flood of third world entitlement seekers would be a disaster for the Republicans.

          • Stomper says:

            Muddled is acceptable. Thanks Expat. I haven’t done a lot of research on it but it doesn’t seem the immigration is that strong of a vote driver with Hispanic voters here. Bush got a Hispanic percentage of mid 40s so seems that there is some potential. I’m not pulling for the GOP to do better but it seems like you’d be wise to try to improve your appeal to voting blocs so if not Hispanics, how about women. If you want to get the White House back you better start worrying about Texas, Florida, and Ohio, among others. Personally I hope you guys continue to pay homage to the Tea Party and stick to your principles, no compromise.

          • expat says:

            There is no ‘you’ – I never have been and never will be a Republican, unless they cut ties with religious weirdos and the US chamber of commerce at the same time. (And boot that evil clown McCain to the curb.) Considering who pays their bills and mans their outreach campaigns I don’t see that happening.

            Don’t you worry I have similar words of spite for the Democrats – doesn’t make me a supporter of either one.

          • Stomper says:

            Thanks Expat, my apologies on the label. As a political junkie that loves to prowl around KCC, I enjoy your contributions.

  7. hLot harley says:

    Stomper:
    I’ve been involved in the top echelons of politics longer than you.
    Have faced being threatened and harassed at my residence by thugs
    on this site. They actually went out and tried to use my
    ip numbers to find out where I live.
    So before you go into a rant about comments let me tell you about them.
    Guys on this site hate facts. Southy is a hypocrite plain and simple.
    A buy born into immense wealth comes her and tell us its wrong
    to make sure those billionaires who have all the advantages of a tax
    system that’s rigged to get them to pay no taxes is fair.
    The so called commentator you love along with our “political guru”
    predicted one of the worst predictions ever posted on this or any
    other internet site predicting a Romney victory in 2012. Like picking
    a dead horse to win the Kentucky derby (fact)
    Regardless of your political persuasion you really don’t impress me
    with your comments. Why should the American public sit and understand
    there’s another side to a political issue when chuckles the clown has
    publicly stated some of the most vile disgusting racially tinged and horrid
    hateful comments not only on this site but the other site
    without regard to the other side. The republican activists have stopped
    everything in their path including what’s being proven by study after
    study…by instance after instance to be one of the great programs
    ever in the last 40 years…the ACA. Even in Kentucky …..the aca has
    set up kynect…and for 400,000 people in that state and millions across
    the nation its working well. There is no other side. Either you provide insurance
    for those people and go bankrupt on the way or you devise a program…
    tweak it as it goes along….make it better (which the democrats did with
    bush’s donut program)…or your sink the nation.
    Then you say ….look for common ground…with what? a guy who
    writes hate mail about any person of color other than white. A guy who
    believes that only whites have rights in the nation. For those kind of people
    there is no common ground…just that eventually they pass on and the
    next generation takes o ver with a new kinder attitude about those who
    may be and lookdifferent than the white populationwhich is dying off.
    Everything you write about I’ve put in previous posts.
    1. aca was originally the idea of newt and the heritage foundation. So wheres
    the common ground when they fought it only now to find that its working
    and it will never be repealed because the benefits are saving millions of lives
    andthose people who took advantage of it are seeing incredible results.
    2. common ground? when it came time to save veterans ….41 repubs voted
    against it. They votedffor every cutback in the va that was possible. They
    gave us this war and the lies that led to it…now when 300,000 kids come
    home wounded and torn apart and a system that was already in shambles
    because of the “cut cost” mindset the republicans put the nation in
    destroyed a pretty good system. There is no common ground or
    giving in when our young veterans need help. Glaze/hearne/Wilson/
    southy..cheney…Rumsfeld etc….bets are they were old enough but avoided the draft…and probably never served…WHEREE THE F*ck are their voices ?
    I can find nocommon ground when 200,000 vets have one endocrinologist
    down on van brunt to help those vets who served. You want common ground..
    to me there is no common ground to be found…fix that problem now!!!!!!
    Here’s the truth from someone who knows. We’ve cut back government.
    the irs/the va/the military/the post office/everywhere…and now we’re
    seeing the tip of the iceberg when those cuts affactt people. Millons will no
    longer have mail delivered. But the rural state senators and reps say
    hold on…that’s my state…don’t cut my state. The military wants more
    unworkable weapons…but there’s no money.
    Right now our beloved governor in Kansas experimentd with his
    tax cut shenanigans and we’re going to see the diamond of our state, education,
    take a huge hit.
    No I find no common ground. The only common ground is the politicians
    who were bought and sold by a supreme court decision be run from office.
    No common ground…1 goal. That those who cost us 6000 lives and 300,000
    injured kids to flood the va looking for help be held as war liars and criminals.
    Stomper…we don’t need your “article” and we don’t need you complimenting
    the “professor” who’s been wrong more times than anyone.
    What we need is action. NO more common ground. We saw where that
    got Obama…his attempt at common ground was met with hate/racism/
    stalling/shutdowns of the government/lws that set America back 50 years…
    no more coomon ground…we’ve seen where that got us.
    The demographics of the nation are changing. Going away are those
    who fought common ground. Who once Obama suggested the exact programs
    they wanted they screamed no no no.
    We no longer can work across the aisle. Your friends Koch saved us from
    that. The voting laws were turned back..the experiments that they
    poundedvinto their surrogates have failed and now we’re about to turn
    out the lights on the whole gang of them.
    the party is over. Demographics will swamp these thieves out of office
    in a few years. Maybe not in 2014…but come 2016 and beyond they’re
    going the way of the 8 track player.
    Then you said don’t confuse personalities with issues? are you serious?
    when you have rich white guys born into wealth telling us not to worry
    when inequality is destroying the nation and it’s economy…(I could
    write a book about this…(warren already did)….while heandhis
    buddies get tax breaks for everything they do. When racist hatred
    comments fill this board and the other board?
    Stomper…I agreed with your previous comments…but this article
    is full of holes like the rest of the attempts made here by whinery
    and “the professor” and the rest of these guys.
    To me common ground on kcc is when glaze finds common ground
    with a dancer at whispers and decides he might want to fall in love
    and marry her. THATS KCC COMMON GROUND.
    thanks for your story…
    Harley…the only true predictor of events….you weren’t here stomper but
    while whinery and “the so called professor” predicted Romney…Harley
    hit the electoral college range number on the dot…no ther pundit or
    tv host or political expert came even close.!!!!!!

    • After reading that post, there MUST be at least SOME change of heart from liberals with regard to abolishing the Department of Education.

      • hLot harley says:

        yes sir….but debate the facts…not the b.s. you want on
        your terms.
        I keep making the “professor”/stomper/hearne/chuckles
        the sad clown and the rest of these mental midgets
        look bad.
        get some facts….debate issues…
        but you can’t and that’s why fools like you post crap
        like that.
        come on …show us how smart you really are.
        or stfu.

        • Stomper says:

          Wow Harley, you now lump me together in a group with Chuck? Just because I complimented Paul’s and Hearne’s ability to generate political discussion? I get it that you like to draw blood when you debate and I accept that your take no prisoners approach shuns common ground. I’ve already said that sometimes personalities have to be a part of the discussion and only that they have the effect sometimes of drawing deserved attention away from actual issues.

          Regardless, I still love your politics. I wouldn’t want you to stop being a player here.

          • chuck says:

            “Wow Harley, you now lump me together in a group with Chuck?”

            Yeah Harley, what is all that about? Stomper is one of the COOL kids.

          • Stomper says:

            Chuck, despite the existence of some pretty drastic differences in our politics, I do enjoy reading your thoughts. Some mornings it’s better than a shot of expresso. I’m sure we will continue to exchange some “velvet hammers” . Paul Wilson warned me about Harley but in my naivete I assumed that since we shared our liberalism, I would not be a target. So much for that assumption.

            Offering a contribution here has been an interesting experience. Certainly gives me a greater appreciation for what other contributers have to endure. Other than Kelly Urich, no one has been immune from abuse. I think it was Truman that said it first. If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. True dat !!!

    • Stomper says:

      Et tu, Brute ?? 🙂

  8. Orphan of the Road says:

    The nome de plume has a long history in writing. Ben Franklin knew it was best to let Poor Richard say what needed to be said.

    Well thought out, Stomper. I’ll only add to always wear your cup and defend yourself at all times to the suggestions on commenting.

  9. Libertarian says:

    I vote Libertarian due to the epic failure known as the 2-party system.

    If you truly want chang, quit voting republo-crat.

    By the way Stomper, that was a well-worded read.

    • Libertarian says:

      I didnt mean to drag chang in to the fight-that was supposed to be ‘change’.

  10. Nick says:

    the constitution does not address the party system so we officially have, you know, whatever

    however we have employed a multi-party system throughout our history; the fact (imo) that we currently have a de facto two party system is a major contibutor to our national schizophrenia; it encourages black/white thinking, which in turn stultifies innovation and thus proscribes ideas/solutions not a priori endorsed by either ruling party.

    in other words, barring an intervention, we’re doomed to have the same conversations about the same issues ad infinitum, a state certainly NOT prescriptive for progress and prosperity.

    • Stomper says:

      Amen to everything you wrote Nick. I guess I’m just a naïve idealist but I think there have been moments in our history when good men from both sides worked together to find compromise and “do the work of the people”. It’s not happening now but we can’t stop trying. Thanks for the comment.

  11. Paracelsus says:

    Look. If one posts absurdities, right or left, prepare to receive some judiciously-aimed tomatoes.

Comments are closed.