Nov 22 2016, 7:40am
Let me begin by saying that I think everything that has been raised is a fair assessment: this discussion is about whether TORn is an appropriate platform to discuss political topics. I won't be turning up at TORn HQ with my pitchfork with a placard saying "Maggie Thatcher doesn't approve", but I do want to openly put out there some of my immediate thoughts having read this.
Thoughts from a non-American who (until recently) has spent considerable time away from TORn.
Now, the two things I mention in this posts subject line I think are important and relevant.
Firstly, TORn is (and always has been) heavily US-based (in terms of membership, news stories, etc.). I presume 'recent political events' can only refer to the US election (please correct me if I am wrong). And because of that my first thought was: is it really fair to ban all political discussions solely based on these events? While there are several US-related (e.g. the election, gun crime) and worldwide-related (e.g. the politics of climate change, war) political issues which are heavily contested (and yes, they rely on mature people to intelligently express and discuss ideas) and do come up fairly regularly, I think there are many, many, many important political issues which should be allowed to be discussed: women's rights, the economy, foreign policy, equality, health care, the environment. All of these are important issues, but if I wanted to discuss any of these (to share my woes, fears, or experiences with other TORn users) would they be deleted? On a more personal level, I couldn't discuss how the outfall of Brexit is going to effect my job or how X country has starting oil mining in the Arctic and its going to be an environmental disaster?
And also related to this is other non-spirited debates. Political threads can be blind, filled with biased opinions. But what about religious threads, which can equally be intolerant rants laced with prejudice and bigotry? Should religious discussions on TORn be banned, too? And then what ...?
Secondly, there are one or two reasons why I have spent sometime away from TORn. The number one reason was because it was becoming to easy to offend someone. Not vindictively, but an increase in the number of people being offended by any and every opinion someone else posts. And the admin have had to act upon that. I have had more warnings from the admins about the content and tone of my posts since the release of BO5A than I have ever done my entire time on this forum. That's not their fault (I'm not questioning the rules), but in my opinion we seem to have moved away from the ethos that: if you don't like it, move on. Which is related to this:
We see more and more people taking the approach that: "If I'm right and it's important, then civility is optional. If I'm sure of my rightness, I'm entitled to lecture the other person about their wrongness." And the corollary is held true as well; "If they're wrong, they deserve what they get. If I attack this bit of wrongness it will be a blow against all the other wrongness in the world I can't reach."
We don't need to create conflict where none should exist, and unfortunately, there are notable trolls that thrive on it. While I like the idea of discussing any topic, maybe not everyone is mature enough to carry a civil conversation without the admins stepping in. With a mix of generations, of religions, of backgrounds, and of races, it is difficult to strike a balance. Political discussions are only going to work if all the people discussing it are knowledgeable about the world and mature enough to discuss a controversial topic. Does the moderation of the forum need to be stepped up? Maybe, maybe not? Is it really worth it? I don't know.
As you can see I am conflicted: I would cautiously say that no matter what, even if you strongly disagree with someone, you should never shut down communication of ideas. Political threads help people learn, and can provide some serious conversation. However, TORn isn't really the platform for it.
It's a tricky one.
Thank you for letting us know.