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Nancy:  I, too, am mystified.  I recently ran across this same difficulty in
freshman argumentative essays.  Some of the students were quite quick to call
those who did not share their point of view "liberal wackos," etc.  I had to
point out several times that name calling weakens any argument.  Alas, some of
them did not pay attention.  Could it be, in addition to Frank's good
observation, that we learn what we live?  It seems so much of what we hear is
presented in a negative manner.  We aren't encouraged to buy a certain item
because of what it can do, but because of what the competitor can't do.  The
same is true of political campaigns.

On another note, again from a student paper, all of you in academe will be
delighted to know that all of us have TA's to grade our papers so that all we
have to do is enjoy our over-large salaries that are completely paid by student
tuition, which keeps rising so that we can be overpaid and underworked.  <sigh>
As I write, I have piles of papers on my desk and cascading out of a chair.
Since I am in a community college, it is easier to find a Dodo bird than a TA.

Happy grading to all of you in the midst of finals.

Victoria McLure

frank kretschmer wrote:

> >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?
>
> Nancy:
>
> 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.
>
> Frank