Some people like to discuss the American Civil War, trading views as they seek to understand what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and why it mattered. The discussion is a learning experience, and sometimes provokes new research. But not all online forums reach that goal. Sometimes, a few people are satisfied to repeat the same theme and its variations in post after post in discussion groups, until their predictability transcends the irritation that the repetition provokes, leading to boredom. Other folks like to argue or debate. One should not confuse this with trying to understand or to reason: these posters just like to debate and argue, and they hold dear to their assumptions and wonder what’s wrong with anyone who does not agree with them. Sometimes the debates look much like a reenactment of debates that took place during the Civil War: to those not engaged in such debates, these exchanges can look educational, silly, or both.
All this is prelude to the following announcement earlier today from Michael T. Griffith: “I have created a new Yahoo group for no-holes-barred discussions on the Civil War. It’s called Debate the American Civil War.” As Griffith says, “Unlike other Civil War discussion groups, no views will be censored and no one will be banned, as long as they avoid profanity and don’t make threatening statements. If you want to compare pro-abortion arguments to pro-slavery arguments, you may do so. If you want to compare the Confederacy to Nazi Germany, you may do so. Any and all views will be tolerated–again, so long as they are expressed without the use of profanity or threatening language.”
In short, Griffith promises an experience a single notch above usenet’s alt.war.civil.usa, which, to be kind, is not what it once was. And so Mr. Griffith’s new group would seem to be just the sort of thing for those people who are interested in that sort of thing.
I don’t know what “no-holes-barred” discussion means … and I dare not ask.