Debate must be civil

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There’s nothing like a good debate.

The famed Lincoln-Douglas in debate in 1858 put Honest Abe on the path to becoming the 16th president.

Brian Mulroney’s scolding of then prime minister John Turner over patronage appointees helped lead to a PC victory in 1984.

These debates are remembered for sharp points and wit — without vulgarity or personal attacks.

That wasn’t the case on a recent back and forth on the Western Wheel’s Facebook site regarding the Pride in the Park event scheduled for this weekend.

One individual quickly attacked the gay community, imploring them to keep their behaviour in Ethel Tucker Park and not spread it on the streets of Okotoks.

That was despite the fact the article in the Western Wheel did not suggest organizers of Pride in the Park promoted a gay lifestyle, but instead encouraged acceptance, caring and understanding.

Regardless, the fight was on.

Sure, there were some witty comments, such as a suggestion the above individual take up bird-watching to ensure he doesn’t witness anything in his life that would compromise his values.

But it quickly turned insulting and using words not fit for the Western Wheel’s publication.

To regrettably paraphrase Donald Trump, the attacks came from both sides and some comments had to be deleted by the Wheel.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new in journalism. Some major media outlets have stopped allowing online comments because of the hours needed to delete inappropriate comments.

The Wheel welcomes your opinion.

The public is a watchdog and opinions are needed even if it disagrees with the paper — especially if it disagrees with the paper.

But the debate must remain civil. It can’t become insultingly argumentative and fall off the rails.

That is something the Great Rail-Splinter, Abe Lincoln, did not do in becoming one of the great debaters in history.

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