Member Rara Avis
Attack the post,
NOT the poster.
For nearly ten years, the above sentence has been the guiding philosophy behind not just The Alley but, indeed, all of pipTalk. And in all of that nearly ten years, no other thread has so egregiously ignored it.
Within the bounds of good taste, I really don't care what anyone says about a politician. The moment a man or woman decides to run for office, they agree to become a target for criticism. And, yea, that inevitably includes what can only be characterized as character assassination. Accuracy isn't a requirement. For political criticism to work at all no one can set themselves up as the sole judge of what is or isn't accurate -- if only because that judge would wield far too much power over the political process. In short, you get to be just as outrageous in your criticisms (or accolades) as you like. It will be up to your audience to decide whether you are someone who deserves their attention.
In my opinion, however, discussion only works when everyone has a voice.
Everyone has to mean everyone, not just those willing to risk a left jab to the jaw or a quick kick to the groin. While politicians implicitly agree to become punching bags, the rest of us have not. Attacking someone because they said something you don't like is little more than bullying. It's never been tolerated here before and it won't be tolerated in the future. It really shouldn't have been tolerated in this thread, and that, I'm afraid, is entirely my fault. There were a lot of good things going on in this thread, including some new voices to the Alley and what I saw as some new ideas, and I was reluctant to impede that. I was wrong, though, to let the good things outweigh the bad. I'm rectifying that mistake today.
Attack the post,
NOT the poster.
That's not necessarily an easy policy to follow, nor is it an easy one to enforce. The line between what someone says and who they are isn't always a clear one. It's nonetheless a line that needs to be drawn.
The moment you start talking about another Member rather than what the Member has said, you've probably crossed that line.
For example, if you want to analyze (or question) someone's motivations for posting, you should probably join a forum for armchair psychiatry. They might accept you as an expert witness; we won't. Feel free, at any time, to disclose your own motivations, but please leave those of other Members out of the discussion. Similarly, while it's perfectly acceptable to reference prior posts of someone, please refrain from trying to characterize those posts in any way that, instead, characterizes the poster. And, please, be careful what you tell another Member to do. Suggesting someone should get their head examined is an obvious attack, but I think many other suggestions are perhaps less obvious, but still very unwelcome, personal attacks on the poster. You can't, for example, tell a person to be fair without simultaneously implying they were previously unfair.
In my opinion, personal attacks are almost always the result of frustration. You disagree vehemently with what someone has said but, for one reason or another, cannot find the best words to counter it. Frustration ensues and, amidst a desperate need to say something, the wrong things are said. It happens every day in the real world, it happens every day across the length and breadth of the Internet. The results of such frustration are pandemic. This, however, is a site dedicated to writers. It's our job to find the best words, not the easiest ones.
It's time, I think, we started taking that job seriously.