I am not someone that entirely enjoys debates. However, I do enjoy reading multiple sides of a topic that are presented in an intellectual, sophisticated and respectful manner. The New York Times is currently presenting such a debate that I enjoy reading from true professionals who avoid name calling or the attempt to bastardize anyone’s belief. Whether I agree with any of the debaters or not, I do respect the tone and the professionalism, which is something that keeps me reading and more importantly, open to other ideas or viewpoints. Sometimes I agree with one of the writers and at other times, I do not, that’s my prerogative and yours, too.
However, the main reason I do not enjoy debates and the reason I stay away from taking part in them is that they usually result in bringing out the ugliest of society who are normally decent people on a day to day basis, but when they cannot convince someone of their viewpoint or get their two cents in, sometimes they resort to hate and anger tactics such as name calling and hateful ranting. Such people tend to defend themselves by saying it is the only way anyone will listen, but ultimately it is about an underlying problem that society has tried to stamp out since the beginning of time and that is intolerance and hate.
My stand on such behavior has become hardened due to the Internet and how too many believe they can say anything derogatory about anyone with no consequences. The Internet has truly demonstrated how far down some can go and how low some individuals truly are. The Internet has provided a false sense of anonymity for people whose ideas and opinions are dismissed, not listened to, or are unlawful offline; it has become a place where anyone is able to try and inflict their opinions on the world from the safety of their keyboard. Furthermore, it does not matter who they try to slam, insult or indict with their ravings, they just crave a response or reaction even if it is negative and do not expect to be truly accountable. At work or at school, or simply in society outside the Internet, they would be held accountable by an accepted code of conduct and to some form of professional laws and/or ethics.
I understand that everyone is entitled to freedom of speech, but with that freedom comes the responsibility of not intentionally hurting others in the process.
The debate presented on the NYT website is a good intellectual debate, there are some things you might agree with and other things you might not – I particularly enjoyed Ned Hallowell’s input, he is predominantly the one person who has advanced the awareness of ADHD above any other in the last two decades. But look also to the comments and counter articles popping up all over the Internet, some are professional and respectful, but too many are hateful and seethe with anger, resentment, hate and pure unmitigated malice. I am not concerned with any of ‘them’ reading or ‘getting’ the point of what I am trying to say here, they are too myopic for that, more importantly it is to highlight the prevalence of their irresponsible behavior and how we as a society must find ways to hold them liable even on the Internet. Sometimes it is simply a matter of recognizing the behavior for what it is. As for my part, on my blog I can delete any derogatory comments and disallow any voice that is hateful, and other places I can simply not give them the direct personal attention they crave. What can you do?
ADHD is a fact and there’s no debate that is going to change that.