Some of you may remember a recent story about an 11-year-old boy from Alabama who bagged a monster-size pig while hunting. If not, follow this link http://www.monsterpig.com/ to his website for all of the details. While there, please look at the comments posted about this feat, especially the negative ones; the venom they contain is astounding. Not that he particularly needs it, but I thought I'd add my two cents of support for the boy, so I sent him the following e-mail.
Congratulations on your trophy! You've accomplished something that hunters many times your age will never have the opportunity to experience. Only in the many decades of hunting you have ahead of you, as you meet, befriend, and share hunting stories with other hunters, will you really begin to realize the enormity of your accomplishment.
I don't know if you've been allowed to read the negative comments posted to your site about your bagging a monster pig, but if so, you are getting a priceless education about people. Disagreement between peoples and groups is as natural as breathing. In fact, it is often essential for human progress. The manner, however, in which disagreement is expressed and pursued speaks volumes about not only those involved--their breeding, intelligence, and education--, but also about their ultimate aims and basic philosophy.
Civility during the discussion of disagreements helps to keep the points of contention in focus, and it will not allow ad hominem attacks to blur that focus. Those who engage in attacks on a person and not in a civil discussion of his ideas are not really interested in finding a solution, or at least an amenable compromise, to the disagreement. No, they are only interested in pushing their thoughts on others, and they demand that these be accepted without question. They usually use emotion in place of reason, a tactic, if they would stop and think about it, used by tyrants since the dawn of man. One has to wonder what their ultimate aim is: true liberty, with its strict adherence to the trader principle and individual freedom; or tyranny, based on a perverted view of man as a child who needs guidance from those who think they know better? Fidelity to civility when dealing with disagreements will, if applied consistently, quickly show who is interested in a reasoned solution and who is not. How? Because those with a paucity of reasoned arguments, ideas, and only the illusion of civility will soon show their hand and begin ad hominem attacks, which is the younger sibling of brute force.
To twist a phrase from Kipling, if you, Jamison, can keep your civility while all about you are losing theirs, you will be a man among men.
Take care, Jamison, you're on the right track.