I agree with this much from my other post: reasoned polemic is permissible in the public sphere. It's not like intellectual dishonesty or other starkly unreasonable behaviours, which I think we have a strict obligation to avoid. But it would be a very minimalist conception of ethics which only asked what we mustn't do. I don't usually accept mere adequacy in myself, and this should be no exception. If we can make an intuitive distinction between being 'reasonable' and 'considerate', I think some of my blogging behaviour has focussed too exclusively on the former. It's acceptable, but, well... not great.
I don't think it's spilled over into real life yet (at least I hope not!), but arrogance is a bad habit and one I really shouldn't be cultivating, even online. Thinking back to comments I've recently left on other blogs, some are needlessly abrasive. Again, the points I made were perfectly reasonable ones, and I wasn't horrible or anything. But certainly less considerate than I could -- and should -- have been.
Richard Dawkins has defended his notoriously polemical style thusly:
I care about what's true, I care about evidence, I care about evidence as the reason for knowing what is true. It is true that I come across rather passionate sometimes - and that's because I am passionate about the truth.
That does sound admirable in itself. But there are other things we should also care about, our interlocuters surely among them. You know, the plutonium rule and all that. If I say something breathtakingly stupid, I'd prefer others to point it out in a nice way. Rigour and tact needn't be mutually exclusive.
So, apologies for being an ass. It's something I'll try to work on.