The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson
Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).
Table of Contents
- Breaking the Personal Bonds
- Lead A Moral and Ethical Life.
- Be Polite and Respectful to
- Control Your Life, Do Not Let
Life Control You.
- A Civil Society
- Polite and Respectful Speech
- Freedom of Speech is Essential
- With Facts, Intelligence, And
- Allegations & Assertions
are to be proven by those making them
- Proving a Negative and Loaded
- The Rule of Law is Sacrosanct
- No Rush to Judgment
- Consequences of an Uncivil
the Personal Bonds
We must all break our personal bonds to become better persons.
One of our lifelong goals should be to better ourselves. There
are many ways to do this, but they all start with some general
approaches as follows:
Moral and Ethical Life.
Determine your religious or spiritual morals and practice them
all day long and every day. Determine what you consider ethical
behavior and always keep your ethics in mind when dealing with
others. Hopefully, this moral and ethical behavior will make you
an honest and trustworthy person. A person who others will
respect and look up too. It will also make you respect yourself,
and lead to a life well worth living.
and Respectful to All
Become a better person by being polite and respectful to all
persons in all situations. This will demonstrate to those who
would disrespect you that you are worthy of respect. It could
also bring shame to the disrespectful person and may also cause
them to reexamine their behavior. It will also imbue you with
confidence and self-esteem that will stead you well throughout
life. In addition, people like working with and associating with
other people who are polite and respectful, which may advance
you in your work or personal life goals, and lead to greater
success and happiness in life.
Your Life, Do Not Let Life Control You.
Whatever life hands you difficulties or problems be sure to
handle yourself. React in the best and most positive of manner
possible under the circumstances. This is not to say to not be
disappointed or upset, but to control your disappointment and
not allow your unsettledness to discompose your behavior. Also,
whether it be food, tobacco, alcohol, narcotics, or sexual, do
not let your addictions control your life, but rather control
your addictions. Be in control of your life and make life
decisions based on what you believe is best for you, your
family, and society. Take charge of your life, and life will not
take charge of you.
Then refer back to my observation “My Message to Americans” on
how to better your life.
For thousands of years, western society has grappled with what
constitutes a civil, legal, and just society. It has been a
tumultuous and turbulent process that has resulted in many
violations of human rights along the way. We have learned
through trial and error, philosophical discourse, and moral and
ethical practices the means to achieve a civil, legal, and just
society. These lessons learned must be applied by all to
maintain a civil society. This article only deals with a civil
society in the public arena. Civility in private and commercial
activities utilizes many (if not all) of these precepts and are
addressed in other observations of mine. Some of these lessons
Respectful Speech and Behavior
Polite and respectful speech and behavior are the only
acceptable means of communication. Interrupting someone, talking
over, drowning out, shouting at, cursing at, using foul
language, and physically intimidating gestures are uncivil and
lead to a breakdown of society. Confronting someone you disagree
with while they are engaged in private activities (i.e. living
at home, dining out, shopping, etc.) is a violation of their
human right to privacy. In no cases is it acceptable to confront
a family member of someone you disagree with. To do so otherwise
is to utilize terroristic methods against someone.
The person you disagree with is the only person that you should
engage. They, and they alone are responsible for their words and
deeds. They, and they alone need to be held responsible for
their words and deeds. Only when it is necessary to prove or
disprove their words and deeds should others who have knowledge
of the situation be brought into the discussion.
Remember that being polite and respectful to others is not a
reflection on the other person, but it is a reflection on you.
Freedom of Speech
Everyone has the right to express their thoughts, beliefs, and
opinions. This would hopefully be done in a polite and
respectful manner, but it is not required that they do so.
Disrespectful or impolite speech should be condemned but not
restricted. But no one is free to lie about, slander, or libel
another person. All speech is acceptable, and there are no
restrictions on what a person can say. If you disagree with
someone you have the freedom of speech to express your thoughts,
beliefs, and opinions. You have no right to suppress another’s
thoughts, beliefs, or opinions. You have no right to restrict
others free speech through verbal or physical acts of
intimidation. Remember that the answer to free speech that you
disagree with is free speech to voice your disagreement.
When engaged in dialog and debate demonization, denigration, or
disparagement of the opposition is unacceptable, but criticism
and critique are to be encouraged. The only acceptable method of
discourse is disagreement - to be of different opinions. While
you are engaged in a disagreement you should be cognizant that
people of good character can and often disagree with each other.
The method of their disagreement is very important to achieve
civil discourse. There are two ways you can disagree with
someone; by criticizing their opinions or beliefs or critiquing
their opinions or beliefs.
- Criticism - Disapproval expressed by pointing out
faults or shortcomings.
- Critique - A serious examination and judgment of
Most people and most commentators have forgotten the difference
between Criticism and Critique. This has led to the
hyper-partisanship in today's society. In a civil society
critiquing a viewpoint or policy position should be encouraged.
This will often allow for a fuller consideration of the issues,
and perhaps a better viewpoint or policy position without
invoking hyper-partisanship. We can expect that partisanship
will often occur, as people of good character can and often
disagree with each other. Criticizing a viewpoint or policy
position will often lead to hostility, rancor, and enmity, which
results in the breakdown of civil discourse and
hyper-partisanship. It is fine to criticize someone for their
bad or destructive behavior, but it is best to critique them for
their opinions or words. We would all do better if we remember
to critique someone, rather than criticize someone.
Under no circumstances are physical assaults permitted during
dialog and debate, as well as the exercise of someone’s free
Facts should be utilized with intellectual reasoning to
determine the truth. To do otherwise would abrogate the truth
and lead you to misjudgments. To allow emotions into your facts
and reasoning will also lead to a falsehood.
You must, however, obtain all the facts before you apply
intelligence and reasoning. This requires that you listen and
read all sides of an issue, not just the side you agree with.
You need to winnow out the facts to determine their
applicability, their importance, and their usefulness to your
reasoning. You must also weigh the facts in their importance and
give more credence to the more important facts in your
reasoning. Intelligent reasoning then requires that you apply
formal and informal logic to the remaining facts. At the end of
this process, and not before, you can claim your decision is
based on facts, intelligence, and reasoning.
In today’s society, it often seems that there is a religious
fervor to the issues that are contentious. One side or the other
makes up its mind on the issues and will cling to their opinion
even in the presence of countervailing information. You must
always be open to the possibility that your opinion may be
incorrect based on the new or additional information. When this
happens, you must be willing to modify your opinion based on
this new or additional information. When I obtain new or
additional information impacting an opinion of mine I thoroughly
investigate this new or additional information, think and reason
about what I have learned, and modify my opinion accordingly.
Assertions are to be proven by those making them
The person asserting something has the responsibility of
proving the assertion. The person disputing the assertion has no
responsibility to prove the other person’s assertion incorrect.
In science, law, philosophy, the theology, and many other areas
of human interactions, it is the responsibility of the person
doing the assertion to prove that his assertion is correct.
Otherwise, we could end up with the following absurd situation:
Someone could assert that Martians eat garbage and piss
gasoline. If they did not have to prove their assertion, but
someone had to disprove their assertion, then the following
absurd situation occurs. The person disproving the assertion
would have to prove there is no such thing as Martians, or if
there were Martians that they do not eat garbage, and if there
were Martians that ate garbage that they do not urinate
gasoline. Obviously, it is not possible to prove or disprove
You must always challenge a person who asserts something to
prove his assertion. Otherwise, you get into the situation that
"if you can't show their wrong then they must be must be right",
which is obviously an incorrect statement.
An allegation or an assertion is not a proof but a statement.
The allegation or assertion must be accompanied with credible,
verifiable, and substantiated evidence in order to be proven.
The standards of proof are different in different situations,
but without proof, the allegation or assertion must be rejected.
To do so otherwise allows for a non-presumption of innocence,
and possible slander or libel against others.
Or, as Christopher Hitchens once said,
"That which can be asserted
without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."
I would argue that assertions without evidence must
be dismissed without evidence. To do otherwise is to allow for
an uncivil society.
Proving a Negative
and Loaded Questions
One of the things that western society has learned is that you
cannot prove a negative (i.e. prove you didn't say or do
something). Historically, forcing someone to prove a
negative has led to witches being burned at the stake, heretic’s
being executed, lynching’s to occur, summary executions to take
place, as well as many other violations of human rights. It has
also led to falsehoods to take place in science, law,
philosophy, morality, and ethics. No one is required to prove a
negative, and refusing to answer presumes nothing and cannot be
utilized for any purposes.
We have also learned that a loaded question is not to be
answered. A loaded question (also known as a Complex question
fallacy) is a question that contains a controversial or
unjustified assumption (e.g., a presumption of guilt). Questions
such as “When did you stop beating your wife?”, “Why do you
continue to steal?”, etc. have a presumption of guilt and need
not be answered and should always be remarked as a loaded
question by all parties in the discussion. Refusing to answer a
loaded question presumes nothing and cannot be utilized for any
The Rule of Law is
Without the Rule of Law, there can be no Justice. But the Rule
of Law requires that several concepts and tenets be enforced for
Justice to prosper. These concepts and tenets are “Etched in
Stone”. As this is an important topic I have written a separate
web page on "The
Rule of Law". I would encourage you to review this web
page after reading these thoughts.
No Rush to
Everyone is entitled to a Presumption of Innocence. Not only in
Law but in Society. For if you do not presume innocence then the
accused stands to lose their reputation, employment, wealth,
future opportunities, and even family and friends based on
unproven allegations or assertions. These items should not be
lightly taken from anyone without proof of wrongdoing. The proof
being credible, verifiable, and substantiated. The question is
then how you can judge an allegation or assertion of wrongdoing?
The answer to this question is in another article I have
written: “Who are
you to Judge?”. I would encourage you to review this
article at your convenience.
This is also why gossip is so insidious. It provides no
recourse for a refutation of the person being gossiped and leads
to misjudgments of a person. Therefore, I have made it a point
to not engage in gossip or to pay any heed to gossip, as all
people of good conscience should not gossip or pay heed to
To rush to judgment would cause serious harm to the individual
and to the social fabric of our society.
Consequences of an
To not follow the above precepts is to allow for the breakdown
of civil society. Society fractures into opposing factions that
will not pay any attention to civility or to each other.
Misjudgments, wrong conclusions, and extreme partisanship will
become rampant. It could possibly spiral out of control from
verbal agitation, to physical assaults, then to a civil war.
History has taught us these lessons. Let us pay heed to history
and not allow this to happen by returning to the precepts of a
Each of these topics have been posed as separate web pages.
Please click on the hyperlink to review these web pages.
- Further Readings
- Web Sites
- A Proud Extremist