As I’ve stated before, I enjoy a good debate. Correction: I enjoy a great debate. In my opinion, debates should be civil but that isn’t necessarily a requirement for me. As far as I’m concerned, the basis of all debate and criticism should be facts. Can you craft a compelling argument with facts and evidence which other participants are unable to counter? The purpose of criticism and debate is to gain greater truth primarily but also greater understanding.
However, there are some who believe that it is civility rather than greater understanding or truth that is most important in criticism or debate. One such person is Chris Dixon, a venture capitalist of some renown at Andreesen Horowitz. There is no way that I’d state that Dixon is bad at his job. However, I’ve noticed that Dixon has a tendency to focus on the form of debate and criticism rather than the substance. As far as I’m concerned, such “tone policing” is the rhetorical equivalent of participation trophies.
Dixon recently linked to an article titled How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently. I won’t even bother to link to it because I think it’s utter garbage.
Since when is criticism supposed to feel good? If you are incorrect or you state something callous, selfish, or stupid, why should you be made to feel as if your statement or position is valid?
My opinion of Chris Dixon is that he shows spinelessness. A debate or criticism is likely the least dangerous form of opposition one will face yet Dixon is such a dainty daisy that he feels he should be made to feel good about himself even when he is wrong. GTFOH.
In our last political election, one of the reasons people voted for Trump is because he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about political correctness. I don’t think people should wantonly be insulted but, on the other hand, I have no respect for people who think their feelings should be valued over truth. Whether it is one’s intention or not, it is still possible to state something so disrespectful that it should be treated with complete disdain (insert irony here).
So Dixon, if you read this, try putting your man pants on. Focus on what is stated versus how one states it. Criticism is supposed to be bitter medicine. The clash of ideas doesn’t have to be peaceful to be productive. It is tone policing such as yours that has made vigorous debate and the fruit that comes from it such a dying concept.