The diary, Raising the Quality of OpED. "And, in this corner...", explored expression of anger and expression of hate. I decided to weigh in with my two cents worth and it turned into a longer piece, so... here it is.
When I was a child, I used to think it was better to get angry and let it all out than to block it and hold it in.
It took becoming an adult to realize that letting the anger out was not just a matter of not bottling up. It was also about stoking fires and lowering thresholds of taking offense. I still have to work on those thresholds. But the other side is about the victims of anger or hate, wherever the expression falls on the continuum. That's right. there's a continuum. And the way expression of anger and hate, wherever it falls on the continuum, affects people differently. There's also a continuum of sensitivity to expressions of anger and hate. Your expression of anger may be, in your opinion, less than hateful, but may hurt another person. It may make that person feel emotional pain. To that person, your expression may cross the threshold.
Who is responsible?
Volaar will probably say the perceiver is responsible. There are those who say that child victims of sexual abuse are responsible, because they didn't fight, didn't report, didn't run away. I'm not saying Volaar would say that, but I think it is a bit further down the blame the victim continuum.
Do people have the right to express anger? I guess so. It's a part of free speech. But they also must face the consequences-- being labeled as emotionally damaged, emotionally unpredictable, mean, ugly, hurtful, dangerous, misogynous, racist. Once you open the door, you put yourself at risk. I'm not saying that just uttering something angrily makes you any of the above. But it opens you to people seeing you, judging you those ways.
There's a huge difference betwee KG/Cagey/Levin and Pappy.
Pappy curses a lot-- to the extent it became embarassing and offensive to other writers. You see, some of our writers are proud of their work and invite serious readers, sometimes influential readers to the site to read their writing. Some of our writers invite other writers to the site to post. When they get feedback that the site contains childish, foulmouthed rants, hateful screeds and the like, and the writers they invite decline their invitations to post, that makes them question the site.
KG/etc. is a bigot, with the kind of attitudes towards a number of minorities that are similar to a KKKer. We will delete whatever he posts to the site. Please let me or another editor know if you think he has shown up again in another guise.
Now, about expressing anger. Anger is a powerful emotion that probably adapted evolutionally as a way to generate the energy to arouse a person enough physiologicall to defent his or her self.
In civil society, anger plays an important role in energizing us to respond to injustice and unfairness. But anger is something that adults can not only control, they can also stop at the root, by modulating their thinking and interpreting-- so the level of offense taken is controlled.
An excessive, too-short-fused rage reaction is a sign of someone who "doesn't play well with others." And that may mean that a person who routinely gets "too" angry, and blows off too much steam too often will not make a good, even a tolerable community member. One gauge is whether the person hurts others or makes them uncomfortable.
A bit of discomfort for people who have confused or "wrong" ideas, is one thing. That's just fine, even good, as part of the debates we encourage here. But when the discomfort comes because of name calling, mean, ugly language, the use of offensive images or words, then that is abusive, mean, excessive anger, and it crosses the line.
To create a place where the widest range of ideas and opinions can be voiced, there have to be some rules about civility, kindness and tolerance. Hateful words and messages are not tolerated. That still leaves room, even makes room for a world of open discussion. Call it censorship or repression of free speech if you need to. But free speech and expression need fertile fields for conversations to flourish. Just shouting out epithets is one form of free speech. We're more interested in meaningful conversations here.
I've written about this topic before, here: Trolls, Anger, Taking Offense and One-Hit- Wonders
My experience, having regretted, many times, clicking on the publish or send button, mostly in the past, has taught me to sit and wait for a day. Most of the time, the heat fades, anger dissipates and the angry message gets deleted, having never been sent. Research has shown that just writing it, even without sending it, can be therapeutic. So give it a try, even if you've written a brilliant repartee or critique, if there's a risk it will be hurtful, even if it adds a new perspective, consider not sending it as is. Try to find a way to post the idea without being mean or taking the risk of hurting someone.
You CAN be tough without being mean. That's the higher, smarter, kinder, in so many ways better road to take.