In the middle of a rather lengthy thread over at All Things Conservative a comment was made that liberals don’t tolerate conservatives commenting on their blogs to the same degree that the reverse is true. My friend Mark Harden went so far as to make the following challenge:
I would like to issue a challenge to any liberal commentators here to identify and link to a left wing blog - other than Mike's - which displays the same sort of interactive debate with minimal abuse. I sure haven't seen one.
While I appreciate that I was singled out as the exception, I think there are any number of sites that are tolerant of diverse opinions on both sides of the spectrum. But rather than throwing out a long list of links, I would like to step back and look over my experience blogging these past four years.
My first blog post was made on Jan. 10, 2003, when absolutely no one else was reading this site besides myself. (Not that there are very many more people reading it today.) The first bloggers I came across were fellow liberals like the college activists at Burnt Orange Report, who were nice enough to link me up even though I am an Aggie, and Charles Kuffner of Off the Kuff who was then trying to make a comprehensive survey of the political blogging landscape in Texas.
But while BOR and Kuff are excellent sites and daily reads for me, I have to admit that commenting there was not very interesting since I agreed with most of what was being said.
More interesting, I thought, was to find people with different views who could challenge my perception of the world and who would be open to a debate. I was a debater in high school and always enjoyed the rigorous give-and-take that it entailed.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only were there a lot of conservatives out there, which I expected, but many were open to having intellectual discussions that did not devolve into name-calling and insults. I was also surprised to find that many of the conservative sites tended to be more apt to give me a reciprocal link which was very much appreciated in those early days.
Many of those sites are no longer around, unfortunately, including Mark’s InSane Antonio which he inexplicably shut down two years ago. Others that are now missing in action include Joe Kelley's The Sake Of Argument; BeldarBlog; Reductio Ad Absurdum; and Owen Courreges. I used to have lengthy debates with Owen over the Texas House Redistricting controversy. Today he is apparently working at a libertarian think tank and attending law school.
Some conservative blogs that are still around which are open to debate include my friend Rantin’ Raven’s The View From the Nest; Jimmy K.’s but that's just my opinion and my fellow Aggies who run the popular Boots & Sabers blog.
And, of course, there is Bill Crawford’s invaluable ATC.
One more that I should mention is Roscoe’s Excuse. I met Roscoe at the San Antonio Blogger BBQ last year that Ranting Raven organized. However, while I like to read his blog, I rarely comment there because as he aptly explains in his introduction to the site:
“This is not an "argument" blog nor is it a "debate" blog. Heck, it's not even a "discussion" blog. It's all about me, my views, attitudes, and opinions. Any comments left here that are overly critical of me, of my opinions, or of those I choose to embrace will simply be deleted. Get your own soap box to stand on if you want to, this one's mine.”
I’m not going to name names, but there have been some conservative blogs, local and statewide, that made it quite clear that my comments were not welcome and I have avoided them ever since.
Also, in some cases it took a little effort on my part before I felt welcome at some sites. In some cases, I was not recieved well at first until the blog site owner came to understand that I was not a “troll” coming to take potshots at them. Once they understood that I was respectful of their views, they were more willing to tolerate my dissenting opinions.