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[Update] If I ask a question that says

party X repeatedly warns that if party Y gain power then Z will happen - to what extent has this come true?

Would it be on-topic?


[Old question]

My question To what extent have Democrats eroded gun rights / religious freedom - post WW II? was closed.:

The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician. It does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn more about governments, policies and political processes

Well I can certainly agree that it does sound rather one-sided. However, I was prompted to ask it by a news article that I read, which might just as well have been about the other party.

As I said in a comment:

the essence of this question ... is "party X repeatedly warns that if party Y gain power then Z will happen" - to what extent has this come true?

With that in mind, can this question be saved?

  • I could make it generic, just seeking examples, if that would not be too broad.

  • I could also ask two questions, one of reach party, to show fairness.

  • I could also broaden the scope and make it world-wide. I just want to know to what extent the bogey-man actually exists.

There was also some suggestion of changing the date range. As I said in another comment:

I see big changes n the Democrats round about the Kennedy era & the Republicans around Reagan. Of course, I could be very wrong there (YkMMV). I just didn't want anything going back pre-civil war :-) How "recent" do think would make for a fair & balanced question?

So, can this question be salvaged, or is it just not a good fit for the site?

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    I am not sure that is possible as the title alone makes it sound like a push question looking to attack a group.
    – Joe W
    Jul 14 at 13:13
  • Oh, obviously I would change the title (+1), and also remove the examples of guns & religion. This honestly is a non-partisan question. How best can I make it generic, without having it closed as too broad? Jul 14 at 13:21
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    To make the question more neutral, you could replace the loaded language of "what rights did they erode" with a more neutral one like "what legislation did they propose/pass".
    – Philipp Mod
    Jul 14 at 13:26
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    I would also not limit it to democrats. I don't think it is hard to argue that there has been action taken on both sides in the name of expanding freedom that erodes the rights of others. By its very nature saying something/someone can act on their own beliefs is going to restrict the rights of others.
    – Joe W
    Jul 14 at 13:51
  • Upvote, both, but I had thought that I had made it clear by now that this is not a loaded partisan question - certainly not intended to be. Let me try again, if I ask ` "party X repeatedly warns that if party Y gain power then Z will happen" - to what extent has this come true? would that be in-topic for the site or would it be too broad? Jul 14 at 19:01
  • In my mind that would sound like a push question designed to discredit someone.
    – Joe W
    Jul 14 at 19:31
  • That someone, however, would be a generic politician, if we reduce it to X, Y & Z. Also, the intention is not to discredit anyone. For all we know, the accepted answer might no be scaremongering; it might be that the warnings came true, possibly repeatedly. Jul 15 at 5:48
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One thing I would like to point out (others may disagree here) is that the question

Needs More Focus.

Others seem to believe this is a lesser or non problem judging by the close votes, but in my opinion, this question actually asks two different questions. One about gun rights, and one about religious freedom.

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  • I think that can be taken care of by asking about rights in general but that still leaves other issues with the question.
    – Joe W
    Jul 14 at 22:49
  • Yeah, agreed, at the very least those are different questions.
    – Fizz
    Jul 22 at 21:31
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The are a couple of issues with the particular question (as linked). I don't see an easy fix, but maybe understanding the problem will help.

The question blurs reality.

There has been a lot of talk about gun control since (maybe) the 60s but precious little legislation, either on the state or federal level. Much of that legislation was sponsored by Democrats, but not all (famously, California's original gun control legislation was pushed through by then-governor Reagan), and there has been a reasonable amount of bipartisanism on at least some bills. Further, many of the efforts for or against gun control have taken place in the court system, in cases brought by people who probably correlate on the liberal/conservative spectrum, but who don't necessarily have any overt relationship with the Democratic or Republican parties. It's difficult to begin answering a question which is ambiguous on the facts.

The question embraces hyperbolic polemics as potential truths.

There are times when difficult questions have to be asked, sure, but we have to make sure that the 'difficulty' comes from the real world, not from the question itself. Otherwise we end up in 'loaded question' territory: questions of the "Have you stopped beating your spouse?" sort. If you are going to ask someone if they have stopped beating their spouse, you want on-record facts that they have beaten their spouse sometime in the past, otherwise the question is merely a trap. The way this question is written out, it makes it sound as though the Democrats might indeed have some long-running nefarious plan to steal everyone's guns, and puts the community in the position of affirming or denying that claim. That problem is party-independent, mind you. If someone posted the following question:

The author of [some article] suggests that the GOPs ultimate goal is to strip citizenship from all racial minorities so that they can be deported. What policies or legislation have they undertaken to further that goal?

... it would be equally bad.

In general, we want to lead with observed facts — what people have done or are doing — and ask what conclusions we can draw from it, or how we can clarify it. We do not want to lead with a pre-given conclusion that some random nut job person thinks is absolutely correct and ask for it to be (in)validated. Starting from a presumption of guilt — although almost the norm in our modern degraded politics — is a terrible way to frame things.


Just as a general principle, if you know the answer you're looking for then you're not asking a question; you're fishing for an argument. The best thing you can do in that situation (I suppose) is to be upfront bout it, and carefully attribute opinions so that no one thinks you're trying to state facts. In other words, you could say something like:

Author X in [some article] says [blah, blah]. I agree (or disagree), but want know if there is any evidence or reasoning to back this position up.

Here you've made your position clear, and the author's position clear, but you haven't implied that any position is correct or incorrect. The question might get flagged as opinion-based, but it won't be flagged as partisan.

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    I had thought that my update had made it very clear that I am not interested in gun control and no longer wish to ask a about gun control - or any other specific issue. The new question is "party X repeatedly warns that if party Y gain power then Z will happen - to what extent has this come true?" And "repeatedly" is the crux here. I.E before every single election, the identical dire warning. It does not really matter what the particular warning is, just whether any of them have come true. Jul 15 at 16:48
  • @MawgsaysreinstateMonica: You're missing the point. What's going on in your head doesn't matter half as much as what appearance you give to others (because other people can't read your mind). I mean, think... if you were interested in asking a person 'Z' out on a date, and some jealous person 'X' told Z that you were a serial killer, I imagine you'd be upset. And then if I came along and asked "Well, to what extent are we justified in thinking Mawg is a serial killer?", would you see that as a nice, neutral, rational question? Jul 15 at 18:00
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    I guess that I am totally missing the point. You example in your comment is not a statement made by a political party prior to every election. And I wasn't convicted of serial killing after a few elections, then that would seem to make the claim that I am scare mongering rather than a warning of something that actually came true. Jul 15 at 19:40
  • @MawgsaysreinstateMonica: So you don't see that merely by asking that question I would be affirming and legitimizing the idea that you might in fact be a serial killer? Hmph. Well, nothing more I can say to you, except that you will continue to have questions closed on you until you do understand this point. Can't force the learning curve... Jul 15 at 22:26
  • Yes, I see that, but 1) you are only saying it once, not before every election and 2) you are stating it, not warning "if you elect this guy he will kill - serially" ;-) (and 3) I don't intend to stand for election, for reasons which I won't mention here ;-) Now, let me try - yes, you can attempt to legitimize that idea, and facts thereafter will prove you right or wrong. So, to what extent does that happen election-wise? Jul 16 at 10:14

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