There has been some discussion recently at The Christian Post blogs about the ongoing problem of decorum. A good example of the problem is found in the comments at my blog from individuals who choose not to engage the topics and arguments of my articles but rather to post non sequiturs and ad hominems.
For example, in my recent article "Does God punish people through natural disasters?" I raised the problem of natural evil, and in particular the biblical passages that God punishes individuals -- including infants -- for the sins of others. I raised this issue against the backdrop of Pat Robertson's claim that God punished Haiti through its 2010 earthquake.
A number of commenters simply ignored the argument of the article and the theological and philosophical issues raised by the article and instead attacked me personally. For instance, a commenter who hides behind the moniker "lpepperw" wrote as follows:
not surprising that Rauser would jump on the favorite anti-Christian bandwagon, the Pat Robertson express. Thankfully their are groups like Samaritans Purse, Hands and Feet Project and many others who are in places like Haiti, ministering to the needs, not playing to the atheist crowd, Rausers comfort zone.
To begin with, I didn't criticize Pat Robertson, and if lpepperw actually read the article he/she would be aware of this. In fact, I wrote: "criticism directed at Pat Robertson is misplaced."
Second, note that lpepperw describes me as being on an "anti-Christian bandwagon" as if raising a discussion about the problem of natural evil and the interpretation of biblical texts is "anti-Christian". This is a clear ad hominem as is the statement that I forgo aiding the poor for "playing to the atheist crowd" which is my "comfort zone".
Finally, as an example of a non sequitur lpepperw mentions NGOs working in Haiti as if that had any relevance to the topic of the post.
It is unfortunate that there are comments like this which attack the writer's character with ad hominems and raise non sequiturs. But I won't be tolerating them any more.
So I'd like to let all would-be commenters know the following:
you are invited to post substantial critical engagement to the arguments I present and issues I raise in my articles. But if you post comments irrelevant to the discussion which simply attack my person they will be deleted. So please don't waste your time or my time.