Are you attacking the issue, or the person? (submitted)

Are you attacking the issue, or the person? (submitted)

Column: Online arguments: you’re a terrible, horrible human being

I was disappointed with the few who decided to attack Robert instead of the issue at hand.

When I read Robert Barron’s Sept. 22 column where he talked about how, in his experience, you can’t totally take the breed out of the dog, I knew we’d get a response, and some of it would be negative. Especially since he specifically talked about pit bulls.

He told me in the newsroom before I’d even read it that it was likely to be controversial with some. And having dealt with the subject in the past to some extent I knew he was right.

So no surprise that the column stirred up considerable passion among readers, and some took to both our website and Facebook to express their opinions.

By and large there was a decent debate, with some folks completely rejecting Robert’s opinion and others in complete agreement, proving the topic was worth broaching.

I don’t know if anyone’s mind was changed one way or the other through the conversation but there’s something to be said for having people on opposite sides of an issue at least hear (or in this case read) one another.

Which is why I was disappointed with the few who decided to attack Robert instead of the issue at hand. It’s something that I find happening more and more, especially on the internet. If someone doesn’t agree with an opinion expressed, the person expressing it becomes the target in a very personal manner. So instead of disagreeing with Robert’s view of pit bulls, Robert is a terrible person. Uneducated. Lacking as a human being.

It struck me that this is exactly the kind of thing that Lake Cowichan councillor Bob Day was talking about when he addressed the increase in harassment faced by local politicians, especially online. Differences of opinion all too often turn into personal attacks, because people are unwilling to even hear the other side of the story.

This isn’t the way it should be. Those with a different opinion are not, in most cases, evil. They’re not the enemy.

Not everyone who disagrees with you, even on a topic of great importance, is an awful individual, of poor moral fibre and stupid to boot. Just like not everyone who agrees with you is necessarily a wonderful example of humanity.

This is important because we must be able to talk about the issues that matter to us.