A comment from Signposts:
I have noticed a trend within the egalitarian (and postmodern/ec) group that when they can’t keep up with quality reponses and begin to lose ground they resort to the “tone” or “mean spiritness” of the messenger argument.
He’s essentially stating that when someone (like me) addresses the tone of the debate, it’s because I’m out-argued and can’t think of a good response. I admit to almost doing the Howard Dean scream when I read this. A negative tone doesn’t mean your argument is wrong, but surely we can agree that tone is important in how we communicate? Can’t we? Update: Jacob clarifies:
Surely we have to conduct ourselves in ways consistent with Christian behavior 100% of our time – whether we’re in church or in a debate. I’m not suggesting otherwise. What I am commenting on is the tendency for some to mistakenly attack ones “tone”, “mean spiritness”, “anger”, etc when all the person is doing is agressively debating, demanding answers, calling people on errors and inconsistencies, and being frank and untactful. Remember intensity doesn’t necessarily equate to anger. BTW, email and bulletin board postings are about the hardest medium in evaluating tone. You better be absolutely sure before you make your accusation or else you’re just as guilty.
Okay, I can agree with him here a bit more. The first comment seemed to say that challenging the tone is a debating strategy to cover the fact that you’re losing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The second comment acknowledges that it’s not easy to read/moderate tone through this type of discussion.