Thursday, August 5, 2010

Is it better to avoid controversy?

          Sometimes my Debate Day topics are controversial and other times not so much.  Over the past couple of weeks I touched upon some topics concerning pay and pensions of employees who are essentially paid with our tax dollars.  On other Debate Days I have brought up other issues that were somewhat inciteful.


           As one who enjoys a stimulating debate, I don't mind bantering a topic with another with whom I might disagree.  I'm not interested in picking a fight, offending anyone, or placing another in a position of ridicule.  Partly I am interested in learning and partly in conveying my opinion in order to sway others.  On my blog I would not want to lose readers or antagonize any of them.  My primary purpose is entertainment through what is hopefully some stimulating discussion.


         Some oft given advice is to never discuss politics or religion, when in reality these are two of the more important issues that affect our society and that each of us should and probably do have an opinion about.  These are also topics that are often the root cause of factionalism and even war.  We may stubbornly cling to our ideas and opinions because we haven't taken the time to rationally discuss them and break them down point by point.


          On my Thursday blog posts I often take an issue which I have heard discussed on the news, talk radio, or someplace else.  At times these issues might raise my hackles enough to make me want to find out more about them, hence my bringing them up for Debate Day.  Sometimes I have presented both sides, sometimes only the side with which I strongly agree, and sometimes I may appear to show favor with a side with which I am in strong disagreement.  Whichever the case may be, on Debate Day I am merely tossing something out to the readers in hopes of eliciting some responses which may make us think, or even teach us something new.


         My question for today--not only from the standpoint of my debate blog posts, but also in your own life situations:

   Is it better to avoid controversial topics for fear of upsetting someone else?

        Perhaps you'd prefer to just talk about the weather, your family, or your work.   However do we really learn anything about what is going on around us in the larger scheme of things?  If we have been misinformed about something that we have come to strongly believe, talking about it might help us to see things differently.   If we have an issue that we are passionate about and want to persuade others to join our side, then we must be able to talk about it.  Sure life can be peaceful and non-confrontational if we don't address hot issues, but isn't avoidance how potentially oppressive movements can gain influence over the populace?

         Do you ever address controversial issues on your blog?   Does it upset you if someone strongly disagrees with you?   Are you ever so offended by a blog post that it angers you?    Would you stop reading a blogger who strongly disagreed with something that you believed in even if that blogger was trying to be civil and polite?   Are you able to calmly and rationally discuss controversy with someone who is the polar opposite of your beliefs?

       

30 comments:

  1. There's a right way and a wrong way when dealing with a controversal subject, it only gets out of hand when one says or writes something that they later regret.

    Have a good day.
    Yvonne.

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  2. In order to understand the issue and make an opinion I must try to understand the other opinions. I read posts and comments with which I don't agree all the time. I try yo learn from them and I have yet to stop following a blog because of different beliefs.
    I may however stop reading a particular post because it upsets me.
    I never comment when I'm upset. I go back later.

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  3. Remember that person, about 80 years ago, who agreed with everyone and never rocked the boat?
    Neither does anyone else.
    Key point about the oppressive movements; keeping it lively will keep us alive!

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  4. I'm totally a non-confrontational person. And I tend to be very opinionated and obstinate, so I find the best way to keep my friends is to AVOID THE TOPIC. Sometimes it's unavoidable...but it doesn't usually end well!

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  5. I agree with Yvonne, however, if we do not question, debate or investigate how are we to make an educated decision?

    I love your Tuesday's by the way, makes me think. I tired such a topic today, something new for me, we'll see.

    Have a good day, Lee
    Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  6. I actually deal with controversial issues everyday on my blog. It amuses me to take the temperature of reaction by the number of comments. The serious issues can drop to 1 or 2 comments and the "fluff" can generate a dozen comments. I don't intend ever to be controversial just biblical and truthful in love and humility.

    It does not upset me if someone strongly disagrees with me. I expect it and welcome it so that mahybe a dialouge can develop.

    I don't think I have ever been so offended by a post that it angered me. But I operate from a differnt point of view than most, I expect the non-believer to disagree whole-heartedly with me since spiritually they are blind. I wouldn't not be upset nor critize a blind man for walking into a wall he could not see.

    I would not stop reading a blogger who strongly disagreed with something I believed in. I read and interact regularly on one blog that disagrees with me and I think we all have a good time. I am not the final answer and am rarely smarter than a fifth grader.

    I think that for the most part I am able to calmly and rationally discuss controversy with someone who is the polar opposite of my beliefs. I need to be. As a pastor I am bound by required qualification to be gentle, able to teach, able to gently persuade. To be a pastor I must not be quarrelsome, pugnacious, or even hostile.

    In summary, I engage in dialouge in order to better understand a position and to help others see and understand Scripture more clearly for practical use and application.

    As usual good post with thought provoking questions. Lord, protect me today from failing in everyone of them!

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  7. I'm careful regarding controversy. I avoid child exploitation, racial discrimination, sexist jokes about women and such. But other than that, everything's fair game.

    Stephen Tremp

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  8. It all depends on my mood!! LOL!!!
    Love Di ♥

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  9. I'm not much of a debater. I tend to be the peace-maker if real life situations - comes from being a mom and a teacher I think :)

    As long as everyone is polite and pleasant I have no problems with debates - they're entertaining.

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  10. >> Is it better to avoid controversial topics for fear of upsetting someone else?

    Yes, I feel that it is.

    >> Do you ever address controversial issues on your blog?

    No, I never address controversial issues on my blog. I wouldn't want to upset anyone. I'm trying to acquire as many "Followers" of my blogs as I can, and so I do my best to walk on egg shells and avoid all touchy topics.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  11. Yvonne -- Self-control, avoiding deprecating references to one's opponent, and having a knowledge of the topic are important in not saying things that will be regretted later. Being able to apologize or admit being wrong are also factors in avoiding leaving bad feelings.

    Mary -- The Count to Ten rule is probably a good idea to keep from abruptly speaking out in a bad way. An intelligent discussion of a topic should be a learning experience for all.

    Will-- "keeping it lively will keep us alive!" I like that. Being complacent can result in losing the ideals you hold high.

    Tamara -- I guess it depends on the friends. My best friends are the ones with who I can have lengthy meaningful discussion and we maintain mutual respect when we disagree.

    Jules -- You've expressed my precise thoughts. I checked out your topic and it looks great--I'll be over to leave my thoughts shortly. I think the "debate" format can be a great way to reaffirm that one is correct in their thinking or reassess their opinions. If it gets us thinking it's a good thing.

    U.R.--- Thanks for visiting.

    Gregg -- You are dealing with a topic that is highly sensitive to many, but I think you do it in a very respectful and well thought out manner. I like your outlook on the subject of disagreement and discussion and you have a wonderful blog and leave very good comments on the blogs of others.

    Stephen Tremp -- Even the topics you mention I think can be fair topics for discussion when appropriate. But I know from things you've said in the past that you are referring primarily to the things that you write about in your fiction.

    Diana -- Sometimes mood can make a really big difference as to whether we jump into a debate arena. Sometimes it can be dangerous if we're really ticked off.

    Jemi -- I prefer when everything remains civil in debates where I'm involved. I try to be a peacemaker as well--trying to see both sides is essential to do that.
    I like watching or listening to heated debates when it doesn't involve me.

    StMc--Yes, I have noticed that about your blog. You are always so namby-pamby and unwilling to even approach anything of a political nature or anything that might be controversial. You and your sickly sweet light topics! I think everyone who reads my reply here should rush on over to one of Stephen McCarthy's blogs and tell him to grow some opinions.

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  12. Lee,

    Nothing wrong with controversial topics, nothing wrong with disagreeing, even strongly. In my world, I have taken on the highly emotional/hair-raising topic of copyright law as it applies to artists. If you want to see a MAJOR bru-ha-ha...start a debate on the "C" word with beaders!

    The problem I often see, is that debates are based on opinions that are based on another's opinions. In the case of copyright for example, everyone has an "opinion" on what it means, but rare is the person who actually read the law, or case studies.

    The second problem I see, is stereotyping, or huge sweeping generalizations (All pit bulls are mean dogs). This shows not only a narrow minded focus, but one where someone does not do some fact checking.

    No, I am not saying you have done this. It is only something I have seen a lot of in articles, blogs and comments in a variety of places.

    Tackle those tough topics, dont be afraid. If well crafted and fair, then it will always be a good read, and nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree.

    Sig

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  13. :-O
    Thanks for the laugh, Lee!!!

    You do know how to pick up the ball and run with it.

    ~ D-FensDogg

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  14. well we can always debate about some lighter and serious issues, but what I don't like is when some issues that should always be taken objectively are debated by some people subjectively.
    There are certain taboos (like kids exploitation as someone mentioned above) which cannot be debated through personal subjective opinions. I generally do not like debating with people who don't have sensible moral principles and ethical values to begin with, because they usually have irresponsible and immature attitudes about anything, even arguing.

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  15. Mr. McDogg and I have a lot of live debates, and sometimes they're like watching that scene at the end of that kung-fu movie where the teacher was killed and the students have to face-off against the entire Chinese army and a major butt-kicking occurs.

    Well, they're not really that bad, and besides, I just gave away the plot of every kung-fu movie ever made.

    As long as people are willing to act like adults, a debate, however heated, is an exchange of ideas.

    Both sides can defend points vehemently, but as long as there are facts being exchanged, and not insults, it is productive. I think it helps if both sides are also willing to cry "uncle" and agree to disagree.

    If there's no controversy, what is there to debate about?

    There's really not all that much to say about the weather (I think Daryl Hall said that)

    LC

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  16. Ok here goes:
    1. Do you ever address controversial issues on your blog? Not usually.

    2.Does it upset you if someone strongly disagrees with you? Yes, I usually hire someone to take care of them.

    3.Are you ever so offended by a blog post that it angers you? Not yet.

    4.Would you stop reading a blogger who strongly disagreed with something that you believed in even if that blogger was trying to be civil and polite? Maybe, but probably not, but maybe.

    5.Are you able to calmly and rationally discuss controversy with someone who is the polar opposite of your beliefs? I try very hard to be fair and usually do fine. If not I bend their arm until they say uncle.

    Two things I can't discuss calmly: Religion and politics. I stay away from those.

    Great post, Lee.

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  17. Oh yes sometimes I read a blog which I so disagree with and gently close the door and walk away. I feel an open heart and mind is able to see and understand where the other person comes from, but most of these opinionated blogs are very closed and only see a situation as black or white. I do not enjoy these blogs, I love debate, discussion but then I like to think I see the "grey" of the situation as well.......:-)Hugs

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  18. Lee- I think you maintain a respectful tone and an openness for debate, and try to keep commenters civil, and in that safe environment, I think it is good for ALL of us to see what 'the other side' has to say on the matter. I enjoy your 'controversial topics' and know that while I am often coming from a different side from many of your readers, I will always be treated respectfully and head. I applaud what you do.

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  19. Sig -- I guess opinions are what debates are really about. Facts can have different interpretation when seen thru different eyes from different viewpoints. Laws and case studies are the result of certain opinions being based on what appears to be preponderate evidence-- they are still opinions. If we didn't have so many opinions, we wouldn't have debate and nothing would ever have to go to the courts to be decided. And just because a judge, a panel of judges, or a jury makes a decision doesn't mean that the decision is necessarily true, right, or factual.

    Generalizations and a certain amount of "stereotyping" because necessary to a certain extent in a debate limited by time or space for expediency sake. One must be careful when doing this, but I think it can often be used successfully. Using your example, wording would be the key, such as x% of dog violence are pit bull attacks or pit bulls may have a natural inclination toward aggression if not properly trained.

    Often debates may not seem fair to the opposing side merely because of the passion of ones beliefs. I try my best to present facts as I see them and interpret them. Sometimes a debate instigator can also enliven the debate with a few red herrings or generalizations or the like. It is up to the reader to correct these if that reader is playing the role of the opposing side. It is not unlike watching a magic show. The magician may use some sleight of hand and trickery to make the audience believe, but if you want to expose the magician you have to watch carefully to show what was done to create the illusion. Debate is show biz with an educational bent.

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  20. StMc -- I'm not much for running with anything with my heart condition what it is, but we jugglers know how to pick up the balls and toss them around.

    Dezmond -- You make a good point, and I agree what you are saying to an extent. However, I've heard some very good intelligent debaters defend some pretty bizarre and disgusting sides of an issue. In fact, there is a lot of that going on these days--It comes down to opinions.

    LC -- You nailed it!

    Teresa -- Religion and politics are the main topics of debate! Maybe you could take some sedatives and calmly discuss them.

    Bernie --- If a blog is always about the same subject that I don't agree with, I would eventually be gone-- especially if it became deprecatory and offensive toward my side of the argument.

    Hart -- Thank you kindly for that compliment. This is what I've been trying to do. If we don't learn something from our exchanges then we haven't accomplished much. I am interested in what people think about certain issues that I bring to the page.

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  21. I am not opposed to a hearty discussion depending on the circumstances. I will refrain from certain discussions with certain people though; with some, it is just a circular discussion with no purpose.
    Have a great weekend,
    Karen

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  22. Karen - A debate discussion is most useful when both parties want to gain knowledge or have a good reason to express opinions. Some people just want to have a fight, while for others it is the same thing that never gets anywhere.

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  23. I like your question: "Is it better to avoid controversial topics for fear of upsetting someone else?"

    No matter what you write, what your opinion happens to be, someone, somewhere will get upset. You can't control what others think, of course.

    Writing about something controversial is a good way to stir up interest in a particular topic--& blog ratings! Just make sure you are prepared for people who see things in a different way.

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  24. Lisa-- You are so right. There's always someone who won't like what you have to say, so no point in sweating it. I'm not intimidated or adverse to receiving opposing opinions. I welcome them, especially if the opposition is willing to present civil, intelligent discussion.

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  25. I tend to trend lightly in this area.
    I will if my opinion is strong, put it out there. I can respect someone's
    opinion, even if I don't agree. I can be civil... I do not like mean comments left on blogs. The pen is mightier than the sword. I think subject matter is key here, regarding the calm and rational.
    My Dad always said, topics to keep to yourself, politics, religion and sex.

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  26. I say write what is in your heart. If that is controversial then write it and don;t be afraid of what others think or say.

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  27. Hi I have just read your comment to me on Yewsterday's debate,
    If I every said or did anything wrong to upset a person I would be the first to apologise, but as for upsetting anyone in the first place I am a firm believer in the adage If you haven't got anything pleasant to say don't say anything at all"

    Yvonne.

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  28. Ellie -- Awww, those are some of the most interesting things to talk about.

    Tabitha -- I agree with you, yet I do tend to be careful not to alienate too many readers.

    Yvonne -- you always seem to have something nice to say. You live by the old adage in everything I've seen you write in your blog.

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  29. I don't usually post about controversial topics on my blog, but that's mostly because I'm a scaredy cat. On facebook I debate politics a great deal and, while I do get offended by opposing view points at time, my largest reason for offense is when people have shown their lack of thought. A discussion that should be had rationally and utilizing the tenants of logic gets turned into someone arguing philosophy against a believer. I resent that in so many ways I can't even begin to tell you. As for whether or not these things should be discussed... Well, I think they need to be. Politics affects us all and how else will people get to thinking about it if they don't have to think about it? To make an argument?

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