Mick Nugent has announced today the start of his proposed dialog. This dialog will be hosted on its own site, with special rules both for the dialog itself and for commenting. More news will be coming about the commenting as the team of moderators works out their process. Comments on the dialog will be moderated.
As I proposed much of the structure for this dialog, it shouldn’t be too surprising that I’m taking part in it. A brief note on why: I am not advocating for everyone to hold hands and sing, “Kumbaya”. I don’t expect to heal any rifts, for a rather large number of reasons. I don’t expect to suddenly become the spokesperson for anyone but me, and I’ve tried to set this up to make agreement and disagreement very transparent for those who are willing to leave a quick comment. I don’t expect, in fact, to do anything terribly differently than I’ve done here on my blog.
I’ve written about these issues extensively, and I have responded in depth to arguments from “the other side”. The responses from them have generally either been to change the subject or to wander away as the background level of harassment ramps up. The structure of this dialog has been designed to minimize both of those.
Simply put, it’s time to hash all this out in public in a venue that won’t drive away that portion of the population that sees fighting over an issue and can’t see the issue for the fighting. It’s time to have the discussion that various sorts of disruptive behavior has made difficult, if not impossible.
This dialog will cover five topics:
1. How we can work together on core issues on which we broadly agree, including promoting reason, critical thinking, science, skepticism, atheism and secularism in the real world.
2. How we can balance the right to freedom of expression and robust debate about ideas and issues, with the desire to not unnecessarily hurt people who disagree with us about those ideas.
3. How and to what extent our various communities and groups should have ethical and equality and social justice issues on our internal and external agendas.
4. How we can each, as individuals, lead unilaterally by example by behaving reasonably and charitably and constructively, while others are not doing so.
5. Any other issues that people believe are important to address.
These will be discussed one at a time, starting with number 1 later this week. I expect this will take a while. I expect it will take a lot of work on my part, though I will also be asking for feedback from a fair number of interested parties. I will have threads here dedicated to the various parts of the dialog. Venting is fine in those threads. Feedback on bad arguments and links to solid refutations of bad ideas would be wonderful.
I can’t tell you how this is going to go. All I can say is that I’m going to give it its best chance possible.