Policy, politics and abuse

 
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
About a week ago I suggested that a poster on (I think) a Victorian based? thread might tone down their attacks on the character of a well meaning politician from a major political party. That person rounded on me, attacked me personally and accused me of being a stooge for that political outfit. I didn't reply, left the the thread and didn't go back for more nastiness.

My attacker will probably be pleased that his words still disturb me a fair bit. So for the record I've voted both Labour and Liberal (I even voted Green when I was 18). But I regard myself as a passionate centrist who sees good intentions in most policies coming out of the main centre-left and centre-right parties. While I don't see much I agree with in policies from Right / Nationalist parties like One Nation or Left parties like the Greens, I'll still defend their right to exist AND to get a fair hearing, free from gratuitous nastiness.

But I've been disturbed by the sheer level of "partisan aggression" of some people on this site. There are two sorts:
  • Vicious personal attacks on posters here because they dare to think differently.
  • Attacks on the reputation of politicians and lobbyists. For example, one otherwise amiable poster takes every opportunity to slag off the character of state premiers who were in office 20 years ago and even 50 years ago. Another case is the "hate threads" that are created to malign the character of public figures.
I'm no wishy-washy hippy and I enjoy respectful debate as much as anyone. But I do see this sort of nastiness as "playing dirty", as "hitting below the belt". Why do people have to launch personal attacks slagging off a persons character rather than pointing out perceived flaws in their policies and politics? I almost get the feeling that if some people here came to power, they would launch Stalinist / Peronist style purges of people who dared to have dissenting thoughts.

So my questions are:
  • Is attacking someone's character an easy way of maintaining face when we are too lazy to work out the failings of their views and policies?
  • To what level should we attack people who have thoughts on policy that differ from our own? How much should we challenge their views and debate them rationally rather than just attack their character?

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  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Hear hear.

All parties have a right to exist and deserve the right to be heard. I would like to still think we all live in a country where we are encouraged to voice our opinion and feel we are being heard. Free speech and all that.

But and I say but.

It is important that respect is maintained at all times. Respect is critical to others believing your view. There are some in this site who don't like hearing people's views and in my view have under developed inhibitions.

I like to voice my opinion at times here and I fully realise it is this is not always respected by users but this site allows you to do that and welcomes different views. This is in stark contrast to the outright abuse I have seen in Facebook and I will never go back

Have people lost the art of compromise and the skill to mediate and consider the views of others ?
  Groundrelay Chief Commissioner

Location: Surrounded by Trolls!
We still have posters who still need to use 'Krudd' and 'Juliar' (get over it!). If someone isn't on the starboard side of politics throw in the obligatory lefties, commo, reds, because conjuring up the ghost of Joe Stalin is just so effective Rolling Eyes.

It's pointless but I'm not that precious to be personally offended to the extent of needing to attack the posters. Slagging off a 'third party' is very much in the eyes of the beholder. There's a bit of hypocrisy and double standards applied here especially by those who decry others as being 'rusted on' when their own bias is quite obvious.

As for the personal attacks Mad

My experience is that several people consider themselves free to denigrate and abuse another user. Are they trying to be clever or trying to intimidate by the ongoing sniping and slurs? Certain RP members seem to delight in dishing it out. Unlike them I don’t need someone to agree with my opinions nor expect them to tow some party line.

The rules of this Forum clearly states.

no personal insults or attacks
joffie


Railpage Terms of Use seem to make it clear that…

2.1 You must not:
(b)... defames, harasses, threatens, menaces, offends or restricts any person or which inhibits any other user from using or enjoying Railpage Australia or the Services.

Obviously RP own rules and common internet etiquette doesn’t apply to certain members. This sh#t has gone on for a long time seemingly with impunity.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
I think it is a lot better than it was some time ago. There were users who would just bait and attack. Thankfully they are now consigned to history.

Seriously bogong you can report those posts which you feel unsuitable or offensive and I think they are reviewed and corrected.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
This isn't the only forum I'm a member of and believe me when I say this board is always thoroughly civilised compared to some others.

Politicians and their decisions - past and present - are fair game for critical comment from members of the community and they always have been in Australian society. It's a good thing. They are public figures elected by us and it's a sign of a healthy democracy where you can openly discuss and dissect their policies and their parties. I'm really glad that I live in a country where you can say what you think about a public figure (as long as you don't personally threaten them) and not be at risk of being thrown in jail. There are lots of countries in the world where public criticism of politicians is not allowed and where any political dissent can land you long periods of time in jail. Believe me when I say that our freedom to rag on our elected officials is something that I thank God for nearly every day - because I would almost certainly be doing hard labour in a re-education camp if I lived in a communist dictatorship - as would several other people here I'm sure.

If I can make a passing observation about your reaction to some discussions on this board I would say that you tend to personalise when it turns to politics. You seem to think that you have a duty to uphold what you consider to be 'civilised standards of conversation' to various threads on Railpage when perhaps you should accept that there are lively and passionate discussions about politics and some people are always going to express points of view that you don't agree with and/or attack political views of others. It's just how life is; it isn't personal abuse - it's just a lively discussion. I think you have difficulty in telling the difference between the two: Aussie politicans do not need someone on this board coming to the rescue of their virtue - they are used to being held up for ridicule - that's part of the package when they run for public office.

So I think you either need to accept that or if you see a lively political discussion then don't join in. If you find it upsetting then just don't get involved.

By all means if you feel that someone is having a go at you personally or bullying you somehow then feel free to report that to a moderator, that's what they're there for.
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
While I can (sort of) live with abuse of me personally, I don't think there is any excuse for insulting public figures who (when it comes down to it) do really believe that the policies they advocate will be of benefit to ordinary people. Yes we have the right (even the duty) to say why we think those policies are flawed, but attacking a public figures character just because we disagree with them is not "participating in lively political discussion", it's just plain nasty.

As I said in my original post... "I'll still defend their right to exist  AND to get a fair hearing, free from gratuitous nastiness."

So (to remove any identifiable partisanship) if someone is a lifelong supporter of the "Potato Party" they can point out the flaws of the "Parsnip Party" policies, BUT I reckon they don't have the right to attack the leader of that party, distort their name into a word with negative imputations (like JuLiar or TurnCoat) or slag off their character generally.
  Groundrelay Chief Commissioner

Location: Surrounded by Trolls!
...So I think you either need to accept that or if you see a lively political discussion then don't join in. If you find it upsetting then just don't get involved.

By all means if you feel that someone is having a go at you personally or bullying you somehow then feel free to report that to a moderator, that's what they're there for.
don_dunstan
One's politics will tend to reflect one's life experiences, upbringing, social and work environments. Therefore opinions will differ. That doesn't make them a (derogatory term) nor give you some right to 'go after them'.

While I can (sort of) live with abuse of me personally, ...
Bogong
Good for you.
I don't lose sleep over who gets called what in politics. However I don't feel great about personally directed caustic, ridiculing posts. It's especially nasty when it involves getting others to join some toxic vendetta.

It comes back to some common online etiquette which some think they’re above.

"...Many people recommend you simply ignore trolls and don’t respond in any way, but this gives the trolls even more power as it gives them the power to silence you."

http://www.webroot.com/au/en/home/resources/tips/pc-security/you-cant-win-an-argument-with-a-troll


I agree. Problem is a moderator won't determine who started it Sad
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Personally, I don't believe a discussion of politics belongs on this forum anywhere, period. I get tired of the constant attacks on political parties and their members, and frankly, most of the time I can't be bothered with this forum. Unfortunately a good deal of it comes from the top, as the owner of this forum has traditionally attacked Liberal politics for as long as I remember.
  michaelgreenhill Administrator That's Numberwang!

Location: Melbourne
Personally, I don't believe a discussion of politics belongs on this forum anywhere, period. I get tired of the constant attacks on political parties and their members, and frankly, most of the time I can't be bothered with this forum. Unfortunately a good deal of it comes from the top, as the owner of this forum has traditionally attacked Liberal politics for as long as I remember.
TheBlacksmith
Long ago Brian was a Liberal supporter (as was I). Dig back far enough and the proof is there for anyone to see.

The Lounge didn't always exist: it was created so that discussion of a political, religious or bacon nature could be isolated from railway discussion topics. Politics and religion will always come up in discussion: they're a huge part of society. We don't want to prohibit these discussion threads - we want to manage them. Hence, The Lounge. Yes, you will get the occasional smeg who decides to attack an individual based on their political leanings; unfortunately however, that behaviour is endemic to railfans: you're just as likely to be attacked over political or religious preferences as you are over your preference over steam or diesel.

The simple response is, if you don't like it, don't read it. There are plenty of topics around here that don't interest me (religion, Sydney suburban, timetabling to name a few) that I steer well clear of.

If you feel persecuted we encourage you to report the offending post(s), and site staff will deal with it as appropriate. If the response isn't adequate, you are welcome to open a dialogue with the site staff member about it, providing you do so in a polite and adult manner: hostile responses will be ignored at best, and at worst you'll be slapped with a warning increase.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Personally, I don't believe a discussion of politics belongs on this forum anywhere, period. I get tired of the constant attacks on political parties and their members, and frankly, most of the time I can't be bothered with this forum. Unfortunately a good deal of it comes from the top, as the owner of this forum has traditionally attacked Liberal politics for as long as I remember.
TheBlacksmith
I don't think it's correct to categorise all people here as being strong supporters of either party; I think - as with the real world - people on this board have different positions on lots of varying topics that don't necessarily correspond with 'left' or 'right', 'Liberal' or 'Labor'.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Personally, I don't believe a discussion of politics belongs on this forum anywhere, period. I get tired of the constant attacks on political parties and their members, and frankly, most of the time I can't be bothered with this forum. Unfortunately a good deal of it comes from the top, as the owner of this forum has traditionally attacked Liberal politics for as long as I remember.
Long ago Brian was a Liberal supporter (as was I). Dig back far enough and the proof is there for anyone to see.

The Lounge didn't always exist: it was created so that discussion of a political, religious or bacon nature could be isolated from railway discussion topics. Politics and religion will always come up in discussion: they're a huge part of society. We don't want to prohibit these discussion threads - we want to manage them. Hence, The Lounge. Yes, you will get the occasional smeg who decides to attack an individual based on their political leanings; unfortunately however, that behaviour is endemic to railfans: you're just as likely to be attacked over political or religious preferences as you are over your preference over steam or diesel.

The simple response is, if you don't like it, don't read it. There are plenty of topics around here that don't interest me (religion, Sydney suburban, timetabling to name a few) that I steer well clear of.

If you feel persecuted we encourage you to report the offending post(s), and site staff will deal with it as appropriate. If the response isn't adequate, you are welcome to open a dialogue with the site staff member about it, providing you do so in a polite and adult manner: hostile responses will be ignored at best, and at worst you'll be slapped with a warning increase.
michaelgreenhill
Well said!
  Showtime Chief Train Controller

How can anyone be expected to show respect for politicians from any of the ruling parties?
They have no idea of how real Australians live or the cost of doing so.
They have no real idea of how hard it can be to get good medical assistance or a proper education.
They say what they like to get into power and never deliver on their election promises.
They pay themselves extraordinary salaries for a part time casual "job".
They bill rediculous expenses and then travel free on world junkets at the drop of a hat.
A perfect example of a waste of space - Joe Hockey - a politician that has been around for 20 years or more but had no real idea of funding the nation will be getting a massive salary to go with his massive pension for taking a token role overseas that I am sure Australia doesn't really need to fill yet this same government is telling us that we will have to increase the GST because we don't have enough money.
I am not within my rights to call them low-life lying scumbag POS while trying to find the money to pay my escalating power bill.
Respect my @rse!!!
  Bogong Chief Commissioner

Location: Essendon Aerodrome circa 1980
Yeah, there are times when we all feel like that. BUT can anyone here say that they could do a better job of managing the country, balancing the demands of competing interest groups and running the economy?

Well we could try, but we would botch the job even more than the Labour and Liberal parties do at the moment.

So I reckon we should acknowledge that politicians are well meaning, but imperfect humans who do the best they can. By all means tear their policies to shreds, but don't slag them off personally just because we disagree with them.
  michaelgreenhill Administrator That's Numberwang!

Location: Melbourne
How can anyone be expected to show respect for politicians from any of the ruling parties?
They have no idea of how real Australians live or the cost of doing so.
They have no real idea of how hard it can be to get good medical assistance or a proper education.
They say what they like to get into power and never deliver on their election promises.
They pay themselves extraordinary salaries for a part time casual "job".
They bill rediculous expenses and then travel free on world junkets at the drop of a hat.
A perfect example of a waste of space - Joe Hockey - a politician that has been around for 20 years or more but had no real idea of funding the nation will be getting a massive salary to go with his massive pension for taking a token role overseas that I am sure Australia doesn't really need to fill yet this same government is telling us that we will have to increase the GST because we don't have enough money.
I am not within my rights to call them low-life lying scumbag POS while trying to find the money to pay my escalating power bill.
Respect my @rse!!!
Showtime
That's lovely, but not within the scope of this thread. We're talking about how people are persecuted (perceived persecution or not) on Railpage for their political leanings, not about the politicians themselves.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
Personally, I don't believe a discussion of politics belongs on this forum anywhere, period.
TheBlacksmith
And yet you always seem to participate in such discussions (just an observation).
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Personally, I don't believe a discussion of politics belongs on this forum anywhere, period. I get tired of the constant attacks on political parties and their members, and frankly, most of the time I can't be bothered with this forum. Unfortunately a good deal of it comes from the top, as the owner of this forum has traditionally attacked Liberal politics for as long as I remember.
I don't think it's correct to categorise all people here as being strong supporters of either party; I think - as with the real world - people on this board have different positions on lots of varying topics that don't necessarily correspond with 'left' or 'right', 'Liberal' or 'Labor'.
don_dunstan
With all respect due, rubbish. You never see a '[Insert Labor Politician's Name Here] Imploding Act' or similar. And the main reason is that few Liberals are interested in discussing politics on a forum, they will do so among themselves. The Lounge as a concept for discussing subjects not to do with railways is fine, and there have been some good topics, but the old adage of 'never discuss religion or politics' was created for a good reason and the principle is still valid today. I moderate another railway forum that has never even brought up those subjects.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Personally, I don't believe a discussion of politics belongs on this forum anywhere, period.
And yet you always seem to participate in such discussions (just an observation).
Graham4405
Yeah, I get my rocks off winding people up. Laughing The truth is, I do it mostly to balance the left-wing bias here.
  woodford Chief Commissioner

Personally, I don't believe a discussion of politics belongs on this forum anywhere, period. I get tired of the constant attacks on political parties and their members, and frankly, most of the time I can't be bothered with this forum. Unfortunately a good deal of it comes from the top, as the owner of this forum has traditionally attacked Liberal politics for as long as I remember.
I don't think it's correct to categorise all people here as being strong supporters of either party; I think - as with the real world - people on this board have different positions on lots of varying topics that don't necessarily correspond with 'left' or 'right', 'Liberal' or 'Labor'.
With all respect due, rubbish. You never see a '[Insert Labor Politician's Name Here] Imploding Act' or similar. And the main reason is that few Liberals are interested in discussing politics on a forum, they will do so among themselves. The Lounge as a concept for discussing subjects not to do with railways is fine, and there have been some good topics, but the old adage of 'never discuss religion or politics' was created for a good reason and the principle is still valid today. I moderate another railway forum that has never even brought up those subjects.
TheBlacksmith
No one is holding a gun at your head saying "you must read political disucussions". As others have already said if you do not like such discusion simply avoid such threads. I do this as I can see no reason to spend ANY energy on something I can do little about.
This though is effectively a thread on if such things should be allowed, this is a matter of freedom and freedom of speech should NOT be taken lightly and must be defended at all costs.

woodford
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Personally, I don't believe a discussion of politics belongs on this forum anywhere, period. I get tired of the constant attacks on political parties and their members, and frankly, most of the time I can't be bothered with this forum. Unfortunately a good deal of it comes from the top, as the owner of this forum has traditionally attacked Liberal politics for as long as I remember.
I don't think it's correct to categorise all people here as being strong supporters of either party; I think - as with the real world - people on this board have different positions on lots of varying topics that don't necessarily correspond with 'left' or 'right', 'Liberal' or 'Labor'.
With all respect due, rubbish. You never see a '[Insert Labor Politician's Name Here] Imploding Act' or similar. And the main reason is that few Liberals are interested in discussing politics on a forum, they will do so among themselves. The Lounge as a concept for discussing subjects not to do with railways is fine, and there have been some good topics, but the old adage of 'never discuss religion or politics' was created for a good reason and the principle is still valid today. I moderate another railway forum that has never even brought up those subjects.
No one is holding a gun at your head saying "you must read political disucussions". As others have already said if you do not like such discusion simply avoid such threads. I do this as I can see no reason to spend ANY energy on something I can do little about.
This though is effectively a thread on if such things should be allowed, this is a matter of freedom and freedom of speech should NOT be taken lightly and must be defended at all costs.

woodford
woodford


Oh dear, that is such a tired old argument. Of course you don't have to read them, but as I have said, I do it just to wind up the Lefties. It would be far better if discussion of politics was off the agenda.



'This is a matter of freedom and freedom of speech should NOT be taken lightly and must be defended at all costs.' Oh please, leaving politics off a forum primarily devoted to rail discussions is hardly going to cause a tear in the fabric of the space-time continuum. If you really believe that, perhaps I will start a discussion on the merits/otherwise of bestiality and see how long it stays on the board, after all I have a right to discuss it freely, do I not?
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Personally, I don't believe a discussion of politics belongs on this forum anywhere, period. I get tired of the constant attacks on political parties and their members, and frankly, most of the time I can't be bothered with this forum. Unfortunately a good deal of it comes from the top, as the owner of this forum has traditionally attacked Liberal politics for as long as I remember.
I don't think it's correct to categorise all people here as being strong supporters of either party; I think - as with the real world - people on this board have different positions on lots of varying topics that don't necessarily correspond with 'left' or 'right', 'Liberal' or 'Labor'.
With all respect due, rubbish. You never see a '[Insert Labor Politician's Name Here] Imploding Act' or similar. And the main reason is that few Liberals are interested in discussing politics on a forum, they will do so among themselves. The Lounge as a concept for discussing subjects not to do with railways is fine, and there have been some good topics, but the old adage of 'never discuss religion or politics' was created for a good reason and the principle is still valid today. I moderate another railway forum that has never even brought up those subjects.
TheBlacksmith
You mean like the 'Bill Shorten's imploding act' thread?

You remind me of my late Grandmother, who had a wealthy friend in Camberwell called Doris that she she was jealous of but nevertheless loved to visit all the time so she could get material to rubbish her to her other friends later. I asked her once why she kept going there if she hated Doris so much.

"Oh well, if I don't go there then she's got nobody to remind her just how common she really is". Uh-huh.

I think you'd better keep coming here... just so it doesn't turn completely into an orgy of left-wing conservative-bashing.
  michaelgm Chief Commissioner

Personally, I don't believe a discussion of politics belongs on this forum anywhere, period. I get tired of the constant attacks on political parties and their members, and frankly, most of the time I can't be bothered with this forum. Unfortunately a good deal of it comes from the top, as the owner of this forum has traditionally attacked Liberal politics for as long as I remember.
I don't think it's correct to categorise all people here as being strong supporters of either party; I think - as with the real world - people on this board have different positions on lots of varying topics that don't necessarily correspond with 'left' or 'right', 'Liberal' or 'Labor'.
With all respect due, rubbish. You never see a '[Insert Labor Politician's Name Here] Imploding Act' or similar. And the main reason is that few Liberals are interested in discussing politics on a forum, they will do so among themselves. The Lounge as a concept for discussing subjects not to do with railways is fine, and there have been some good topics, but the old adage of 'never discuss religion or politics' was created for a good reason and the principle is still valid today. I moderate another railway forum that has never even brought up those subjects.
TheBlacksmith
True enough, Labors imploding act has not been a title, there was a thread 2013 federal election, mostly critical of the then government. Fair enough, the incumbents always cop it.
As for Liberals discussing politics, among themselves, interesting concept. You can expect a diverse range of opinions. Fair and balanced? Not likely.
  Groundrelay Chief Commissioner

Location: Surrounded by Trolls!
Seems to be a bit of self serving hypocrisy here!

Port and starboard viewpoints are well represented and championed on RP without some member anointing themselves as an avenging (whatever).

However they dress it up, no one should need to lay into another RP member for expressing an opinion that somehow offends their view of the world.

P.S. As someone 'accused' of being one, I’m bemused with this need to throw in the obligatory “leftie”. The reds-under-the-bed days are long gone. (and I don't even like latte)

P.S.S. Obviously we need more sex and religion topics Wink
  CraigW Assistant Commissioner


P.S. As someone 'accused' of being one, I’m bemused with this need to throw in the obligatory “leftie”. The reds-under-the-bed days are long gone. (and I don't even like latte)
Groundrelay
I dunno, I reckon I can take a fairly accurate stab in the dark on the political views of someone who complains about the terms Krudd and juliar (which I dont use BTW) and is quite happy to drop the C-bomb to describe a member of the blue team.

What do you think?

Craig W
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
I think you'd better keep coming here... just so it doesn't turn completely into an orgy of left-wing conservative-bashing.
don_dunstan
Yeah, I probably will, as long as it amuses me and maintains my interest...

Oh, hang on, is that a dead leaf over there....
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

This though is effectively a thread on if such things should be allowed, this is a matter of freedom and freedom of speech should NOT be taken lightly and must be defended at all costs.

woodford
woodford
Two things:

1. Please provide evidence that there is a right to free speech in Australia.

2. Even if Australia did introduce a right to free speech, the person/s to whom that would apply in the case of this forum is the forum owner and not the forum members.

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