Sunday, July 31, 2005

Internet Etiquette Rules:


“I disagree with what you say but I’ll defend unto the death your right to say it. ”

If Voltaire were alive today he’d have a hard time selling that idea, and it was such an impressive idea too. Even a radio program of the 1940s, Mr. District Attorney, appropriated it for a stirring lead-in. I knew what Voltaire said before I knew who he was.

Today, not many really care what another person says. I suspect there’s just so much news out there it’s easier to decide what we want to believe then ignore everything else. Even those of us who had sworn to defend the Constitution pick and choose which things we are willing to stick our necks out for once we shuck our uniforms.

That includes me, a guy out of step with my old Navy shipmates because I’m a bleeding heart liberal. I only listen to Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity and folks like that when I feel like cussing. I claim cussing is therapeutic. My wife says it’s childish. I’m glad my wife and I don’t communicate by e-mail. We probably wouldn’t be good friends.

I think the whole problem is the Internet. It’s just too easy to find exactly what we want. E-mails are passed around touting this or that belief. In the meantime, relationships built up over decades of service become strained. It’s hard to talk about the good old days when someone tells you “YOU ARE FULL OF *#%*%@#”

Thus I’ve come up with some handy rules of etiquette for the exchange of e-mails:


If you don’t want your ideas challenged, don’t send them to people who think.

Complete agreement is necessary at battle stations, otherwise it’s dangerous. The closest thing to total agreement is found in Saudi Arabia. You want that?

I have as much right to answer an e-mail as the original poster had to send it to me. I also have the right to send it to the same addressees.

“Don’t send me that crap” means little if you’re sending me crap.

I have the absolute right to ignore such admonitions as “If you don’t agree with this, delete it.” Once it lands in my mailbox it’s mine. I’ll do whatever the hell I want with it.

All unsubstantiated claims are subject to question unless it’s something so obvious it cannot be disputed. “God wants you to vote Republican” does not fit that description.

Purveyors of urban legends deserve to be embarrassed. If you don’t care enough about what you send to check it out, I’ll be more than happy to embarrass you.

Claims of the paranormal are encouraged as long as they are accompanied by proof of the paranormal.

I’m not religious but I have just as much right to discuss religion as a religious person. For example if a president thinks God wants him to wage war, I’d like to talk about it with him, or with God.

I also intend to criticize the commander in chief when he stymies science such as stem cell research and therapeutic cloning. I have diabetes and would like for science to find a cure before a surgeon starts whacking off my leg like they did to my brother. I need my legs for walking, or if I meet some of my old shipmates, for running.

The best way to honor the Bill of Rights is to use it. Please remember that the next time you feel like telling someone “sit down and shut up!” Yes I was told that recently, and in those exact words.

If the Boy Scouts tell my grandkids that I’m not morally straight because of what I don’t believe, it’s my moral duty to defend myself.

Stubbornness isn’t a virtue. It is just stubborn.

The wisest thing a person can say is “I don’t know.”

Or it might be to say “I changed my mind.” I don’t know.

Disagreement isn’t tantamount to “bad.” Neither is science.

Never make a list of more than ten rules.

1 comment:

David Chiles said...

This is a great blog post, a netiquette classic. Agreeing to disagree comes from the core rule of netiquette and is a recurring theme in netiquette rules throughout the internet. Thanks for sharing good netiquette, your awesome!