Kristy, your post was wondereful. I too have tried to avoid being caught up in the name calling and the degradation. As a new member of the List I have come to thoroughly enjoy the intelligent insights of each and every member. As a "new kid on the block"..... (That is a similar story, I was the first "hippie" in my High School in the 60s).... in the internet and the discussions, I have discovered something much like "road rage", real flamethrowing complete with artillery. Most people in line in a store who have their patience, their point of view or their civility tested don't start ranting, insulting and finger pointing. But this same person in a car or in a chat.....well that is another story. And the keyboard is even more protection than the car!
I spend some time in a place I Call the snake-pit. It is in alt.atheism. The environment is chock full of sarcasm, cynicism, misunderstandings, insults, ridicule, and a fresh rotating crop of self righteous,know-it-all christians.
The igorance is rampant and it is a labor to delete the nonessential verbage in one's post before sending off a reply. Even without the pointed attacks and justifiable insults,, several of the "older, wiser, more educated Xtian think I'm one sick, hateful, and fanatical antichrist. Of course it is due to the fact that I target the most educated and authoritarian christians as they strut their stuff and pound their chest. These folks go ballistic when they are challenged effectively. "How dare you challenge my superior mind and my MIT education!" I am presently cooking "the Badass Revprez" at MIT.
I was challenged and corrected on a post that was quite lame and insufficient for the topic. I responded by owning up to it.