Do Not Attack the Writer

RD’s Sarah Posner recently wrote about the reasons she thought the Democrats should not invite the Nuns on the Bus to their convention. I actually disagree, and am glad that Sister Simone Campbell will be speaking in Charlotte. Sarah and I agree on many principles regarding religious liberty and church-state separation, but sometimes don’t agree on how those get applied in particular situations. The acknowledgment that people of good faith can disagree this way is a central premise of “12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics,” a People For the American Way Foundation publication I recently updated.

But there is no good faith reflected in a recent post by National Catholic Reporter’s Michael Sean Winters in response to Sarah’s piece. He does not engage substantively with a single one of her arguments, but goes straight to ugly name-calling, asserting that Sarah hates not only the Catholic Church (numbering her among “enemies of the Church”) but also religion in general. 

My dismay turned to laughter when I saw immediately below Winters’ screed the code of conduct for comments on National Catholic Reporter. His post is a primer on violating NCR’s own rules for respectful conversation. Maybe someone at NCR can give him a much-needed tutorial.

NCR Comment code:

Be respectful.

Do not attack the writer.

Take on the idea, not the messenger.

Use appropriate language. Avoid vulgarities and slurs. Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don’t aid the discussion.

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