I first have to put a caveat on this statement. I am not saying this as a Mod, or in any official capacity, but as a member. I know it's a Feature Novel in length, but I REALLY want you to read it.
There have been more than a few threads here lately which I have not been able to moderate because, quite frankly, some of the commentary in them makes me more than a little angry, and I know that clouds my ability to be impartial in my moderation duties. Conversely, as a mod, I can't jump in and counter a point of view because whether I like it or not, the mere status of being a mod throws weight around like a bull in a china shop.
I am not trying to call anyone out, or start any arguments. I think it is safe to say most of us consider each other friends, and that if we knew we had hurt or offended someone, we would be mortified. I know I would. (So let me apologize if I have done it! It is not my intention.)
So I ask you to remember this. The written word, unless crafted with extreme elegance that we do not usually take the time to do, comes off as sterile and emotionless. Smileys go a short ways to change that, but all to often it can be seen as an intentional method of softening a harsh statement. More often than not, the person READING your post will infer their own emotional slant on YOUR text, and may get it totally wrong.
This isn't that important when your discussing dormancy, how to make a nep cutting, and so on, but in General Discussion, where religion, politics, science, morals, and any number of issues that effect us at our foundations, remember that your not always talking to people who share the same beliefs as you.
Here are some examples:
If you do not share a belief, yet you malign that belief you MUST remember your words WILL be read by someone who believes what your coming off against. Make the connection that there are people on the other side of your monitor, those people are probably your friends, and you may be saying something that will alter that friendship forever.
Let me be frank, there are a few people here that I 'debate and argue' with on a daily basis, that I think are great people, I like them, and enjoy our discussions. There are other people, who I simply don't like anymore. You are perfectly entitled to your beliefs, I am entitled to mine. I respect yours, you respect mine. But neither of us has the right to insult either set of beliefs.
I think what I have just written, is a prime example of why mods start chewing their fingernails and staying up late when topics like Creation Vs. Evolution, Discuss Our Beliefs, and other topics that get into very 'heady' discussions.
There are a couple people here who spout tolerance for one point of view, and feel censorship of another is just dandy for another. I doubt these people even know they have written or perhaps even believe these things, but it is there.
I don't think anyone here is a bad person, but the potential to insult in a topic where people on all sides will have sensitive touch points is a powder keg.
I don't think anyone here insults another person on purpose. We are a diverse global community, filled with persons of every stripe, highly religious, atheistic, ultra-scientific, Deists, naturalists, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Ultra left wing liberals, ultra right wing conservatives, communists, anarchists, hetero sexual, bi-sexual, homo-sexual, African, African American, South African, Native American, Those that are just 'American', Canadian, Texans ( [img]http://www.**********.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/new/smile.gif[/img] ) (Insert other 50 states), Brits, French, Chinese, Australian, Jewish, Hispanic, Caucasian, need I go on? I can.... I can get more specific, Wanna break down all the different forms of Christianity? How about Islam? Evolutionists? Creationists (multiple forms of both of these) get my point?
Now, to finish up, (those that are still with me.) I am not talking about avoiding conversation that stimulates the mind, encourages us to learn about diverse beliefs, cultures, customs and so on, I want this to happen, every time I visit this board, I learn something new. If I didn't, I would probably stop coming. I will also recognize that there are people out there with really THIN skin. Those people just need to toughen up, (and I guarantee you I am not one of them.)
I don't want people spamming this thread with apologies, that is not the purpose. I don't mind discussion on my thoughts here, and please understand, they were written as a friend and member of this community, not one of it's mods. And I will NOT point out the incidents that prompted this post publicly or privately to ANYONE, not even the people that made them. I don't even want you to go looking for it. The idea is not to do a witch hunt, but to go forward from this point with perhaps a little more tolerance and enlightenment that this is a big world, and there is room enough for every belief in it.