>I have never understood why a list of people
>who only know one another by texts and so cannot really know one
>another makes personal judgments. We all can debate ideas fiercely
>without directing them at persons, can we not?
I guess it the very medium by which we communicate that makes it so easy to
get angry or personally insulting. One tends to put aside the fact that
there are "real" persons to which one writes. And that one knows in fact
very little about the person making a certain statement also makes it easier
to misjudge what was said.
On the other hand, when writing you may (wrongly) imply that the addressee
knows you well enough to know why you make a certain statement.
Other lists (or posting boards) suffer the same basic mechanism,
surprisingly regardless of the topics actually discussed.