NOTE: Below is a transcript of my aural contribution to Episode ? 185 of The ShopTalk Show (“This Idea Must Die”):
AS A COMMUNITY, we have to stop demonizing those with whom we disagree.
Attacking the intelligence, moral fiber, and grip on sanity of those who hold opinions contrary to ours is nothing new on the internet. It’s as old as newsgroups. A minute after somebody started alt.opinions.design, a second person signed up just to tell the first person to screw off.
And of course it’s even older than that. Progressive groups that try to bring positive change to their community are always splitting into factions that despise each other. If you’ve seen Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian,” and remember the sequence where the zealots are sitting in an ancient square, attacking other zealot groups for being “splitters,” you have a good idea of how far back this goes.
To J. Edgar Hoover, there was no difference between Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky—but, boy, did the Stalinists and Trotskyites disagree with that point of view. Ask two Communists a question and you’ll get three answers and four bullets. And, minus the bullets, the same is true for social-progress-minded web designers and developers. And equally true for reactionaries, who think the system is fair for everyone, since it’s always been good to them.
Until we are free to disagree on the most sensitive of subjects without maligning each other’s integrity, we will not be able to solve the biggest problems we face as a people and an industry.
I’m Jeffrey Zeldman. Thanks for listening.
I encourage you to listen to Episode ? 185 of The ShopTalk Show (“This Idea Must Die”).