Cara in the Town of Halifax recently posted the following on her local Front Porch Forum when a neighbor suggested banning political speech on FPF. We love her perspective on this. Read on…
Some postings on FPF concern politics at every level – local (like the 5-person board discussion), state (Article 22) and national (names of parties). FPF *is* a place to have these discussions – there is, after all, a standard category called “election.”
The people in our small communities all share certain values – the ones that lead people who were born here to stay and that lead people who weren’t born here to make it their home.
But we don’t all share the same views, not by a long stretch. The value of FPF is that it makes it possible to find common ground and discover you like or respect people despite the fact that you may wildly disagree on issues.
That’s missing in so many parts of our lives. Let’s not strip it out of FPF, too.
I’ll recommend an episode of the podcast Revisionist History to illustrate the point. It’s hosted by Malcolm Gladwell (FN: If you don’t like him, no worries – I never did before either but it’s a terrific podcast, not glib like so much of his writing). The episode is called “When Will Met Grace” (FN: if you never liked the show, no worries – I never did either but the episode made me appreciate it). Gladwell notes that the show was hated by ultra conservatives and ultra progressives alike. But the show was on one of the four TV networks we all watched, and that resulted in it having a demonstrably moderating effect on private lives and on the national conversation.
Unfortunately, it’s so easy to avoid these days. Nowadays, people think they’re achieving that same goal by watching both Fox News and MSNBC, or reading the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. But consuming two extremes isn’t the same as consuming something shared in the middle.
That’s why I love FPF. It doesn’t permit anonymous posts. It’s limited to folks who have planted themselves in a small geographic area. And, most importantly, it caters to everything from lost cats to roofer recommendations to crime reports to asking for help to stack wood to, yes, politics. I like that it’s everything – because in that way, it has the capacity to have a moderating effect on all of our lives in all sorts of ways. I know for a fact that it’s helped me forge a sense of connection and community with people I wouldn’t otherwise have had an opportunity to meet or know if we all veered off into our political silos. Knowing that we have such wildly divergent views on things is important because it’s part of what makes the connection so valuable and ultimately, gives me hope.
We can only control our own conduct. If I don’t jibe with a particular person in the community or with certain views and it bothers me to see some posts? The answer isn’t to tell people to be quiet. The answer is for me to decide I don’t want to listen. But I do listen and I know from personal experience that my world is richer as a result.
I hope everyone will feel free to keep posting and keep all of these conversations going. I agree there’s no room here for hateful political or personal attacks, but just because a view is expressed that one doesn’t agree with doesn’t make it hateful.
Posted in: Civic Engagement, Community Building, Democracy, Elections, Front Porch Forum, Online Civility, Politics, Vermont
Ghost of Midnight is an online journal about fostering community within neighborhoods, with a special focus on Front Porch Forum (FPF). My wife, Valerie, and I founded FPF in 2006... read more