Is Any Topic Really Taboo For Debating?


Well-Known Member
Jul 3, 2006
Do you think there is any topic, no matter how asinine, that is taboo to debate? Should all topics be 'up for grabs' and are there any times where debating a topic is inappropriate?
I see this is related to the "free speech" thread you've started, so trying not to overstep the bounds of this question, here's my take:

By definition, no topic is categorically taboo, otherwise it would not exist. However, there is some sense in which one should consider how objectionable a particular topic is- a topic is raised for people to respond to and this is how the consequences arise. One should merely be prepared for the consequences that might happen in the course of opening one's mouth, like triggering the knee-jerks of sensitive people.

One problem is that when certain topics are generally thought to be taboo (e.g. the various paraphilias), it's not like it's going to get any "better". Usually it's like trying to hide a "problem" under the carpet which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: people respond to the terms by subscribing to them and reinforcing distinctions which didn't exist prior to the rhetoric. If this has happened, then I see no point in calling a topic taboo; it ought to be discussed openly, as the ability to do such would be the sign of a maturing society.
Surely it is the choice of an individual whether or not to join in a discussion. If one finds it distasteful or inappropriate, then they do not need to contribute. Besides - I always thought politics was one of the topics that you never brought up in polite company ;)

May be the intention behind the discussion should be the determiner. If it is just to shit stir (pardon the french) then I would hope people would think before posting.
I don't think there are any topics that are taboo, but I do think there are some sensitive ones (like abortion, for one) that are simply silly to even debate about because people's feelings tend to be more emotional than logical and nothing is accomplished.
I think whether or not something is taboo would depend on the circumstances and the people with which you're speaking. I certainly wouldn't discuss my personal sexual relationship with children in the room, but I might with a friend who I trust. So, I think it depends. I think we need to be conscious of the people around us, and use a little bit of tack and compassion when discussion some subjects.
There are topics I will not bring up in front of some people, simply because I am aware of their sensibilities. At the same time, there are topics I will not discuss with certain people, simply because I know the motivation is not to share ideas or debate points of view, but is actually nothing more than a desire to air one point of view only.

As for me, if someone brings up a topic I do not wish to discuss for some reason, then I simply stay out of the discussion. I don't really feel that it is my place to tell anyone they cannot discuss some matter that is on their minds.
Those are good points. I thought the original question just encompassed controversial issues here in the forum.
If there were something I felt uncomfortable talking about, I would just choose to stay out of that thread. I know I'm a little bit more conservative than many on the forum, so I shy away from things I know will cause me to get on my soapbox. However, if I feel I have a valid point to make, I'll jump right in, controversy or not.
I think the bottom line boils down to respecting oneself and also extending respect to those that you are with at the time. Keeping that in mind will pretty much guide you through determining whether to bring up a topic or particpate in a discussion that someone else started.
I don't think that at this state and age, there is something that can be taboo. Some subjects might be unconfortable for some people, and they don't choose to participate. But that certainly doesn't make a topic "taboo". In any case it could be considered a "boring" topic that no one wants to participate. At least here at forums. In real life, it all depends on the people involved.
It's like hate speech ...if you start censoring feelings and thoughts just start a time bomb.
It's a good question. Consider that it's against the law in some countries (all in Europe) to argue that the Holocaust never occurred or that it didn't happen the way it's generally accepted as having happened. I don't know that many people would make that argument, but should someone be allowed if they wanted to?
I believe there are absolutes, and in this case, testimonials, pictures, and even narratives of the event could be used to prove the validity of the event.