One thing I've quickly come to like about blogging is that if offers an opportunity for actual dialogue and debating.
Over the past few days, I've been involved in a bit of a back and forth with Suzanne who blogs here: http://bluewavecanada.blogspot.com/
Suzanne didn't much like my take on stem cell research and when I visited her blog, after she left a comment on mine, I quickly found out why. Much of her's is devoted to pro-life issues and even her profile contains a picture of a seven-week old fetus. She has taken several posts to clarify her position and to correct what she no doubt sees as my rather shaky knowledge of biological terms.
I'll admit up front that I'm not a biologist and that I don't wish to engage in an endless back and forth of definitions as to what constitutes life and what does not (she, for instance, insists that an egg and sperm are not life but that when they get together to create a zygote, it is immediately a human being. At least that's what I think she's been saying).
Now, Suzanne and I will never agree on the abortion issue. I don't like abortion but I am pro-choice. She's pro-life. I view the issue as a moral and ethical stance on the way things are and not something dependent on scientific terminology and definitions.
What I respect about Suzanne is her demeanour.
On messageboards, a typical "debate" goes like this -
first poster: "I hate Jews. They smell bad and run the world."
Response: "you're a fucking pinhead. Why don't you go fuck Arafat?"
Response to response: "You're a Jewish faggot."
You can't debate with people who think they've won every time they call someone else a homosexual. Nor can you have a dialogue with people who do nothing but tell lies or who cut-and-paste from Web sites like stormfront, halturner and other neo-nazi outlets or who repeat the rantings of crazy Middle East mullahs as though they were the gospel truth.
But, blogging is different. Time is not of the essence. People can take a moment and think out a rational response meant to add something to a conversation rather than just throwing around mindless insults. I have not insulted Suzanne (I hope) and she certainly has not insulted me.
We may not agree but we can at least be respectful. And, that's a pretty good first step.