...but this site is not catering to the general public but to self-proclaimed hackers, a species which used to pride itself on intellectual curiosity. I should know, being one of them and being as curious as I manage to find the time for. Knee-jerk flagging is definitely not something which goes together with this definition. This flagging response is akin to a politicised version of the 'Window$IsB0ll0cks/Leenucks-suckz' type of discourse found among juvenile 'script kiddies'.
Some people just want an emotionally calm place to discuss ongoing industry trends they have to keep up with, a superior Reddit with more serious chat. Which group will come to define the character of this place?
In an emotionally calm place nothing of substance can be discussed as emotions tend to rise and fall with the importance of the subject matter. Whether it is vi vs Emacs (which is totally subjective), Linux vs Windows (which is a bit of everything), Free Software vs Open Source (which leans towards politics), Bare metal vs virtualisation (which is purely technical) or a discussion on the differences between men and women (which is biology), some hackles will be raised somewhere.
And yes, this being _Hacker news_ I do feel (which is an emotion) this place _should_ allow open and honest discussion of subjects like these. The mere fact that someone disagrees with you does not make that opinion any less valid or valuable. Where there is a diversity of opinions there _will_ be disagreement, and that is actually a good thing as there is not much less conducing to intellectual discourse than an echo chamber where everybody either agrees or keeps quiet.