Earlier last year, I did a little experiment where I let you readers pick a controversial topic for me to write about and then I did two columns presenting the opposing views on the subject you chose. You picked Obamacare as the topic on which I had this debate with myself, and judging by the nasty responses I got on both columns I must have done a decent job of presenting both sides of the argument fairly well.
I enjoyed the experience a lot. I felt I gained a much better understanding of the issue by making an honest attempt to present both sides of the argument fairly and completely and a lot of readers seemed to enjoy having some interaction with me concerning what I wrote about. So I thought I would start the New Year off by having another edition of you-choose-the-topic.
Since the world is an ever-changing place, I’ve come up with an all-new new list of topics for you to choose from. Exciting, isn’t it? Here are your choices for this go-around:
1. Privately owned business should/should not have the legal right to refuse their services to certain customers if providing those services conflicts with their religious beliefs (i.e. wedding-related businesses that don’t want to provide their services to gay weddings.)
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2. Profiling (racial, religious or otherwise) by law enforcement is/is not an acceptable and reasonable methodology to employ to help them use their limited resources to keep the public safe. I would not address the issue of whether or not profiling is fair to those who get profiled, as it obviously is not. But I would examine whether or not the potential benefit of targeting attention towards groups that are statistically more likely to pose a threat to the public in given situations outweighs the obvious downsides.
3. Pursuing a policy of engagement, rather than isolation, is/is not a wise foreign policy move on the part of President Obama.
4. Islam is/is not an inherently violent religion and therefore practitioners of this religion should/should not be closely monitored by our government for signs that they are involved in terrorist activities. This is really a question about the wisdom of profiling (which I realize I have as another choice) but I thought this particular type of profiling was worthy of separate consideration.
5. The widespread criticism of President Obama’s performance from conservatives is/is not largely based on lingering racist attitudes and the inability of many Caucasians to accept an African American in a position of authority. (This one could be like touching a live wire, but life is boring if you play it too safe!)
Those are your choices, dear readers. Send me an email with your choice for a topic which I will have a debate with myself over and I will attempt to do both sides justice. I will likely follow the same plan I used the last time I did this and publish the right-leaning, conservative answer in my next column (because that will likely be the easier one for me to write) and save the liberal response as my big finish.
Let me hear from you. I look forward to starting 2015 with a spirited debate with myself.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Warner Robins. Readers can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.