Free and fair discussion: In public, in private, in your favorite political party?

There is always a struggle within a group on a mission about how open and free discussion should be. The struggle becomes more difficult when it is occurring in the fairly new medium of “the list-serve”, in the place called “cyber-space”, which place can be dreery and tedious for some people.

The Green Party, too, struggles with this question in the form of netiquette rules. There have been incidents of people being ejected from committees; moderated from the business list-serves; and even ejected from identity caucuses. All based on the content of their e-mails. Yipes!

Wanted to share an article about this same struggle as it happens in Congress. The article was posted by a representative of the Green Party of the United States National Committee to one of the green list-serves, based on recent discussion and happenings involving the imposition of netiquette.

(If you have an opinion on this subject, and you are a green, you may want to start checking up on the national committee, or hounding one of the reps for your state.)

A GP-US National Committee rep wrote:

Here is an article which appeared in my local paper today. It reminded me much of what has been going on on our lists. It is a guest editorial by a Lee Hamilton, Indiana University. It certainly supports my point of view.

Manchester Times
Guest Editorial
Debate Is Good For Our System
By Lee Hamilton, Indiana University

“We certainly have a quarrelsome Congress. In recent weeks, its members have been arguing about funding children’s health insurance, whether to assert that the Turks committed World War I era genocide against the Armenians and what sort of energy policy should guide the nation. Then there’s the ongoing issue of the Iraq war, the constant debate over how to fix our health care system and any number of other dustups and outright policy brawls that seems to take place every time you look in on a committee room or chamber on Capitol Hill.

A lot of people don’t like this. Pretty much every time I address an audience, someone complains. “I’m sick and tired of all the bickering. Those guys are always fighting.” And everyone around will nod.

Most people are uncomfortable with disagreement and debate. As individuals, this is fine; but as citizens, I would argue that we should not only get used to it, we should be pleased by it. It has been a constant in American politics and let us hope it always will be.

Extensive debate is written into the very structure of our congressional system. Read the full article here.

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