Courtesy of a friend at the office, here are some of the best debate guidelines I have seen in quite some time. Sincere thanks to Edward Houston for contributing these rules and also for permitting me to re-post them here:
Seven Rules to Follow if you want to have a Political Discussion with Me
1. Do not say that I am implying anything. I directly state what I mean and I will not avoid direct questions. Please do the same.
2. A statement of fact that is verifiable is not a racist. bigoted, or mean spirited statement. Theories as to why, how, and what can be done about it are subject to scrutiny of motive. But, a statement of fact is just that, a statement of fact.
3. Do not answer a question with another question. That is always to dodge the question asked or to change the subject when loosing ground. You will have your turn to ask direct questions and get direct answers. Stay on subject.
4. Be civil and polite. If you can’t discuss a mater without profanity laced ranting or talking over me, it doesn’t matter how enlightening your viewpoint is. Just go away, I don’t want to talk to you.
5. If this is an issue that you are so emotional about that you can’t help violating rule #4, then go away too. I’m sorry. Even if you feel your emotions are justified, it just doesn’t work. You can’t have a productive and honest discussion that way.
6. When I say most of group X does Y, please do not waist my time trotting out the 2% or 3% that are the exception. There will always be exceptions to the rule and it is possible that you or I may become one someday. You do the best you can for the exceptions but society, as a whole has to come first.
7. There are some yes or no questions and you know what they are. Is it wrong to steal, is it wrong to murder, etc? If you can’t answer a yes or no question without a “but”, then get your “but” away.
It seems to me that if more folks on both sides of the ideological spectrum, especially the Left, could follow these dictums, we would perhaps have a more courteous arena for discussion and debate. Anger and outrageous accusations do not a good case for debate make.