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This is a public board. I acknowledge that I cannot make anyone do anything. However in an attempt to guide the tone and level of civility of this board I offer the following.

Mark Gerzon in his book “A House Divided” says the following about political or other sensitive discussions…

Few people actually listen. Either the combatants shout or wait for their turn to shout. Conversation is reduced to aggressive sound bites. Facial expressions often reveal contempt and anger for others

Everyone feels misunderstood. Everyone in an argument feels stereotyped and dehumanized, by their opponents. Both sides leave an encounter complaining of being misquoted, misheard, misused or otherwise disrespected.

Language Breaks Down. Attempts at discourse are futile because words are used as weapons, and talking makes things worse. The same charges and countercharges are made again and again. "There you go again" is a common refrain.

Person to Person communication fails. In an atmosphere of fear and tension, antagonists speak of generalities and slogans. Rarely do they address one another as flesh and blood human beings.

The media emphasize and reinforce extreme positions. The loudest and most obnoxious voices capture the most attention in the media. People with moderate vies, who recognize the complexity of an issue and speak quietly and respectfully, are ignored.

So what? So the best way to have a political discussion He suggests is to ask such questions of any controversial subject.
1. What beliefs support my position?
2. How did you arrive at those beliefs?
3. Why do you think those beliefs are good for the country?
4. Who do you think opposes you?
5. What do you think they believe?

Rule 1: If you wish to be the model poster you will recognize the truth in the above and attempt to treat each and every poster as a flesh and blood living being. If you have a thesis, the above template is an excellent way to express your thoughts. Avoid the pitfalls listed above.

Rule Two: Don't be disruptive. If I can identify you as a specific type of flame warrior

and this type of flame warrior is considered disruptive to the board here is how you will be handled…

1. I will warn you.
2. If you fail to heed, I will P-Box you and add you to a P-Box list which I will post in which I will encourage other posters to P-Box you as well.
3. If the rebuttals of other posters still conversing with you are disruptive I will warn and then P-Box them.

The P-Box is not censorship, it is freedom of association. Believe me I will use it with impunity. JPS, Kazim and others have lost control of their boards at one time or another. After careful consideration, this is the only way I believe social pressure and civility enforcement can work given the anonymity of the web. It may not work but I will try.

Rule Three: Offensive Language. Do not slur. I consider racial slurs, sexual slurs, religious slurs, and disability slurs to be out of bounds and I set the boundaries so always err on the side of civility. For the record, the word “Retard” is a slur. I never want to read that word on this board. If you slur and don't apologize or refrain from using it again you will be P-Boxed in the manner of rule two. I will always FA posts with slurs in them.

Rule Four (not a rule but a guideline): I would like for the discussions requiring intellect to be intellectually rigorous. Robert Frost once remarked … “Some people think that the chief aim of education is to find out what a man is fitted for. Quizzing shows that in its crudest form. Of course, that is not education's chief aim. You never quiz in good society. Lecturing is a step better, but it's not much good. Controversy or debate is examining in a natural way--is finding each other out --and is considerably better than the other two ways. But communion of minds is the best way; it is an ever-going self-revelation.”
If you want to be a model poster don't quiz or lecture or “tactically” debate by seeking advantage in language or setting traps. Try to achieve a communion of minds. I have found a Socratic Q and A or a fully parsed dialectic to be the most effective. The essay where you present the results of self communion is also appropriate.

Rule Five: “Have a take and don't suck.” – Jim Rome
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