I agree there should be no rank issue and people should be able to freely discuss issues and take issue. However, "we should respect each other as human beings, and respect all applicable laws (no slander, threats, etc.)" is an admirable quality. I have been the brunt on numerous occasions of character attacks and yes, even threats. For a while the site got ugly enough I hung out on e budo where moderators don't allow personal attacks. It is one thing to attack a point of view or disagree with someones views, but yet another to attack the person's character or make threats. A measure of what you are all about as a person is reflected in how you treat others. IMHO there is no excuse except bad manners and petty minds for attacking people and making threats. There are polite ways to discuss issues without being rude and uncivil.
I don't think anyone has problems with spirited discussions on issues. However, many of us do take issue with the personal attacks. My hope would be that we can continue spirited discussions without lowering ourselves to the level of school yard pettiness. There are many that don't agree and hang out looking for such opportunities-often under disguised names. On e-budo this is not allowed. You cannot post without using your full name. Aikido journal has deteriorated in several forums to the same kind of pettiness and personal attacks enough to cause Stan Pranin to shut down threads. Frequently, the same people from this site are the instigators. Once they get enough crap thrown at them they go to another site until they get people there sufficiently pissed off. I guess they have nothing better to do than attack people rather than allow productive and spirited discussions. The topic usually turns to them and their attacks-I guess they get some kind of reward for people paying attention to them. They were the first to scream when someone suggested the ignore button be put in on Aikido Journal.
I guess I paddle in the shallow end.