Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Shooting the message vs. shooting the messenger

In my various online exchanges and debates, I always try to be careful to criticize an idea, a comment, a philosophy -- not the commentator, not the person espousing the idea or philosophy. Meaning I try to shoot the message, but not the messenger.

There are two reasons for this. One is that it is not good to engage in ad hominems, personal attacks, and other low-life engagement. And second, a person can change his/her position and advocacy after sometime while an idea or philosophy can last for decades or centuries.

I myself was guilty of doing some personal attacks in my online debates in the past. It was inevitable, I was less mature, less careful, am remorseful of it. As I age, I realize that this is wrong and try to be very careful of this distinction.

Last month, I got engaged in a discussion in a friend's wall, Peter Perfecto's wall I think (Peter is the Exec. Dir. of the Makati Business Club) over the issue of fossil fuel use. I was doing a satire of many anti-fossil fuel activists, them  who hate fossil fuel yet love so much  their cars, love jet-setting to many countries and continents, engines that use fossil fuel 100%. Or they love their 24/7 electricity where more than 2/3 of energy source is from fossil  fuel.

Then one of Peter's friends blurted out this personal attack.

Calling me "silly" and "extolling greed as a writer for BWorld", hehe. I don't reciprocate those low-life comments. I just alerted him and Peter that resorting to personal attacks is a sign of weak arguments. I also told him that I got a screen shot of his outburst and will publicize it.

Then last week, a friend Arcy Garcia, posted my article in BWorld about my critique of solar power in his fb wall. One of his friends criticized my paper, long comments, fine. Then I came to clarify more points, I showed more charts, showed a math calculation of solar power installation vs actual solar power production in Germany. Later he told Arcy that he has other "more important things to do", meaning he chickened out.

So I feature him here. People should learn to have a minimum of etiquete when debating with strangers, like not engaging in personal attacks. If they insist they can only have the "freedom to attack" and no responsibility and accountability to own up to such behavior, they are mistaken.

There, I have publicized these two guys.
Back to the holiday season mood.

No comments: