I think the downside of this rule of thinking is that it somehow makes religion and politics seem as though they are always offensive and always taboo. As a result nobody feels like they can even bring these topics up without it leading to some sort of controversy. Because of this, the topics become discussed less and less in polite company and only get brought up during acts of trolling, in online forums, or with people with the intention to argue.
With the election coming up soon, I find myself more and more torn over this issue. Is it OK to make jokes about a particular candidate without seeming like you are degrading him or her? Is it OK to make references to campaign slogans and ideas without seeming like you're taking a side? Is it OK to be seen as though you are probably taking a side at all? It's not the easiest question to answer. The safest answer is simply to say nothing at all… Does that mean is the only course of action?
And yet, even beyond "official "politics, there are many other issues that seem to come up that are political as well. Certain departments might not get along and fight over resources. Certain student organizations may intentionally or accidentally offend each other. Certain teams may be jealous of the attention another team is getting, deservedly or not. (Note: While some of these examples are based in truth, others are simply hypothetical). In each of these instances, especially incidents that don't involve me, or any person, personally, what is our role? Should we "get political" and try to help solve the problem…or is it better to simply not bring it up in hopes that the conflicting parties figure it out themselves? Should politics, and therefore disagreement, and partisanship be avoided at all costs, or does it once again suppress any type of rational conversation to be something that's taboo.
There's no easy answer to any of these questions, and that's why this conversation is a blog entry in the first place. There is definitely maturity and restraint in keeping one's mouth shut and staying out of things that are not his/her business… But maybe sometimes not saying anything, for fear of getting political, can actually prolong a conflict much longer than it needs to be.