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User:Philip J. Rayment/Visiting our home

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This is an essay by Philip J. Rayment.
Please comment only on the talk page.

A parable about this site.

Philip J. Rayment

One day when working with my wife in our garden, we were visited by two Mormon missionaries. They were, as is usual, dressed in suits, but this didn't stop them offering to help with the dirty garden work. I declined the offer, partly because I didn't want to be beholden to them. However, I invited them to come back some other time and I would be prepared to give them a hearing and discuss their views with them.

They did return, and we had a discussion that lasted an hour or two. As well as hearing what they had to say, I asked them questions and challenged them on some of their claims. They failed to convince me of their view, and I presumably failed to convince them of mine. But they had their opportunity, and we've not been visited again, presumably because they realise that they are wasting their time with me.

The discussion was very civil and polite at all times. While I'm not suggesting that these two men would ever have been otherwise, they probably realise, to cite the old saying, that you catch more bees with honey than vinegar, and therefore strove to do nothing to put me off-side.

But, hypothetically, what if things had been different? What if, instead of remaining polite and civil, they had sworn at me, called me various names such as an idiot, an ignoramus, or a liar, shouted at me, accused me of being dishonest, or any of the 101 other things they could have done if they got upset and had no self-control? Most likely, I would have shown them the door. And not let them return without a heartfelt apology.

But what if someone else in my household, such as my wife, had come into the room when they were haranguing me and swore at them, or shouted at them, or accusing them of being, say, arrogant? Would I have shown her the door also? Of course not. True, if she had been really nasty, I would most likely have said something to her about her nastiness. If she had been just a little nasty, I would have had a quiet word with her afterward. If she had simply raised her voice, I would have said nothing, even if I'd objected to my visitors raising their voices. The point being, as it is her house, she has privileges there that the visitors don't.

This web-site is up front about it being a biblical-worldview-based encyclopædia. As I said on a user's talk page about people with other views, we welcome discussion, accept disagreement, and tolerate some bad attitude, but such people have an obligation to respect the views of this site and of other people. These critics are like the Mormons in my story. If they want to continue to be heard, they need to not wear out their welcome, or they will be made to leave. And if we are a little rude to you, I apologise, but it's our home, and you are the visitors.

One incident that prompted this essay was me blocking a member of this site who made uncivil remarks numerous times (and had been blocked before for it). In response to one of his comments, an Umpire here had made a harsh remark back to him. The member e-mailed me to complain of his blocking, and also complained that I had been inconsistent in censuring him and not the umpire also. This reminded me of the child who, when caught doing something wrong, complains that "Jimmy did it too", as though the parent is being inconsistent in not also punishing Jimmy, even though Jimmy may, for all he knows, be in line for punishment also. In this case the pertinent fact is that the Umpire had not done the same thing. That is, he had not been repeatedly uncivil. His one uncivil remark—analogous to my wife's intemperate remark in the hypothetical story above—is no comparison to the blocked user's repeated offences.

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