Norms / Rules
We are not into censorship, but we are making a serious effort to enhance communication and enable all readers to improve their perspective. Therefore we have a few norms that we ask all our readers and contributors to observe and we occasionally have to enforce those as rules: Here they are:
Obscenity & Profanity
Scriptamus has a readership that is thoughtful and can express themselves. Profanity is not needed within our community to emphasize a point. We don’t bar all the “FCC Nasty Words” but for our norms, context is critical. Quoting someone who finds it difficult to express him/herself without profanity and obscenity may be legitimate. However, using those terms to express our ideas are unnecessary and are strongly discouraged and sometimes enforced.
Don’t!!! Feel free to argue against the views and ideas of any one writing or commenting in Scriptamus. But we do not attack the integrity, intelligence, motivation, or character of each other. Avoid the Ad Hominum attack! Attacjing a public figure’s position or accomlishments or lack thereof is fine and paer for the course. But we do so without attacking the person. Sometimes this gets very difficult. For example, in 2009 Senator Ensign of Nevada was exposed in a scandal where he was committing adultry with a female member of his staff whose hosband was a friend and supporter of the senator. In what appeared to be an effort to obtain the husband’s silence, the senator recomended the husband for a well-paid lobbying job and the company which hired the husband regularly lobbied Senator Engign. The behavior was reprehensible and can be desctibed as such. It has the appearance and reality of a conflict of interest. We might call for the Senator’s resignation and get into his failure to percieve the perception of his constitutents and his unfortunate behavior illustating that many politicians do not behave that the mores and rules of society apply to them. We can and shoud label the behavior as immoral, but our norm is to avoid describing the Senator as “immoral.” or a “sleeze bag.” It is a distinction with a large difference. Saying that a legislator’s failure to vote for a military appropriation was poor public policy, exposing the country to additional risk, and strenthens our enimies is acceptable. Calling the person a traitor or his behavior treasonous is agaisnt our norms and rules.
- Disagree without being disagreeable.
- Characterise the position and the statement and not the person.
- Avoid deragatoraive adjectives when referring to others. Limit the deragatory adjectives to positions, ideas and results.
Here are s0me examples:
Many people charactized George W. Bush as an “alcoholic” and “drug addict.” We prefer to describe his behavior. “He suffererd from alcohokism. At points of his life he did use substantial amounts of alcohol and illicit drugs.” And to be fair, it is imporant not to leave critical inforamtion unsaid, “Mr. Bush seems to have refrained from his earlier drig and alcohol use since before his becomming Texas Governor or President.”
There was a blog where the writer characteried the General Electric Corporation as “the nations’s oldest and largest criminal enterprise.” It is true that GE and its employees have been found guilty of many different felonies over the years. And the managment of the company is certainly open to fair criticism that they have never gotten the company’s criminal behavior under control. However GE is one of the oldest and largest companies in the country. As a matter of normal distribution, they would be at risk for crimes more frequently than others. Every operating plant is a risk for enviornmental law violations, with so many foreign contracts there is more opportunity for bribe soliciation. GE is certainoly fairly critiized for every time they are caught, finding some employees to fire or discipline and never holding the corporate officers resposnible and accountable for the culture in which criminality is so rampant. But GE, as a percentage of its extensive activites, has a much better record than many of the other firms like Enron.
We are not the New York Times and we do not have or enforce their high journalistic stadnards, but we can all try to emulate their behavior to the degree possible. We want to exchange ideas, advocate and implement them, and we need not unnecessarily attack others in the process.
So critize or even attack others behavior and actions if that is your view. Just do it professionally and in a form that enlightens. Avoid hyperbole where possible. Remember the late Edwin Newman’s point when in the 1968 political turmoil, many were referring to police as “Fascist Pigs.” Newman asked, “What words are we going to use to describe a Fascist Pig, if every police officer is a Fascist Pig?