In the few months I have spent perusing the various writers on Newsvine and admiring how "public journalism" has changed the way I view the news, I have encountered many authors who are for more articulate and insightful than I could ever be. I have also encountered writers from both ends of the political spectrum who can be extremely eloquent and convincing - some of whom have opened my eyes to other points of view that I would have previously dismissed or even disparaged. I have participated in spirited debates, where passion and rhetoric flew across the page in great measure - conversations that ended in the heated participants grudgingly withdrawing with only an agreement to disagree.
Unfortunately I have also witnessed the other side of the spectrum, the authors and commentators that troll for arguments and attempt to pick fights with those just trying to discuss a valid point. Trolls and personal attacks I am able to tune out - one simply cannot participate on the internet in this day and age without developing an "idiot filter". The group that I find myself having the most trouble with, and they exist on both side of the "liberal/conservative" spectrum, are those individuals that blindly defend a position that their party/president/political leadership espouse that they have no other personal opinion on.
For those of us on the left, it is the blind Bush apologist...those who defend his every action and believe that he can do no wrong. The people who only seed articles from humanevents.com and other right-wing sites. The ones who seem to spend every other sentence blaming the "MSM" (mainstream media). The individuals who defend our involvement in Iraq with the standard Republican talking points regarding terrorism, Al-Qaeda and even WMD's.
For those on the right, it is those screaming "impeachonistas" that demand Bush be dragged out of the White House and hung in the rose garden. The people that equate George W. Bush with Satan, Stalin and Hitler and only seed from move-on.org or other liberal sites. The ones who point out every single corrupt Republican official without acknowledging any of the Democrats that belong in that category as well. The same individuals who decry the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without taking a moment to realize that they are totally different situations.
To me the essence of what makes Newsvine great is the very discussion, the political / religious / ideological / moralistic debate over how the particular article or seed affects each of us. For every article I comment in there are easily twenty more that I just read the debate in and remain silent because I don't feel informed enough to respond. I expect heat and passion in the debate, and all of us being human, I also expect anger and bitterness. After all many of our discussion here are exactly the subjects that we are warned not to talk about in polite company (politics and religion being only two).
The question is: Does the very discussion - the wonderful ebb and flow of ideas in the grand debate - get damaged by those who blindly defend positions that their ideological or political group ascribe to? Shouldn't the very purpose of the debate be to enter with a set of ideas (even firmly held) but still with at least a sliver of open-mindedness? Or am I simply mistaken and should I just expand my filter to include those who continue to hold intractable positions that no amount of discussion can dissuade them from?