I have wondered sometimes if the number of people commenting has taper off in recent years because the exchanges in our threads can become, well, heated. I know this phenomenon is not unique to our blog. Perhaps, it has become more acute of late because Bruce and I tend not to edit the comments (I have always believed that sunlight is the best disinfectant).
Those who engage in ad hominem attacks on readers compromise their own strong arguments.
I have not been reading the comments as regularly as I once did; it often seems the comment threads are entirely different from the blog itself. Oftentimes the commentary has little to do with the points Bruce and I make in the post themselves.
In the past few days, in e-mails from and other communication with readers, I have heard rumor that the attacks are getting out of hand. Because I was spending time with my family (and just now returning to LA), I have not had time to investigate those claims.
Please, readers, be civil. Make your point. Take issue with our arguments. Challenge our defenders. Criticize our critics. But, don’t make it personal. If you met some of the people (whom you disparage online), you might find they are good folks. Indeed, I have met most of those who have contacted me in recent days. I don’t always agree with what they say (indeed, one of them has criticized my points more often than not). But, they are all good people.
In conclusion, let me offer this suggestion. Each time you find fault with someone’s argument, as your prepare to take him (or her) on, imagine that you are going to have to sit down next to him at dinner the next day. Or work with him in a professional manner.
[UPDATE: I’ve closed the comments on this thread. It degraded quickly.
I guess many of you didn’t actually READ what Dan had to say.