Some time ago (a year?) I was deliberately insulted by Jeff Schewe on some minor thing, and was fairly unhappy. As time went by, and I read more Schewe forum talk, I started to think, "That's just Schewe." I don't think he intends it, I don't think he exactly calculates the effect of his words, and with all his intelligence and expertise, I suspect that characteristic is the reason he isn't a big shot at a digital-photographic programming company. But I concluded he's not a bad guy; despite his sometimes unseemly manner, he also chips in a good deal of information on subjects like Lightroom, and it's worth putting up with him to get that expertise. I appreciate his presence on the forum.
But Schewe's comments are considerably different than people who come here simply to slag other posters for their personal political positions, and who don't really have anything to contribute on the art of photography. Somebody else on one of these threads said it well, when he said that you shouldn't write anything that you wouldn't say to a person's face...
It's interesting that the threads that cause trouble don't really involve photography. The "Lolita" controversy was mostly about changing cultural, political and linguistic positions, not about the photograph itself. There are no "right" or "wrong" positions in these discussions, no "rational" or "irrational" positions, only a lot of assumptions and ego. They simply are not going to be won by logic; attempting to do so is pissing into a strong wind. I thought MR should have closed the thread more quickly than he did.
As for the folks who are leaving the forum...well, people come and go all the time. So what? And who's losing? I wish James Russell hadn't chosen to leave, but, when I come right down to the bottom of it, his departure doesn't really have much effect on me or my work; JR never told me where I could get a good deal on a SD card. But I would seriously hate to see this forum disappear. It's one reliable and generally comprehensible place to get good information on very specialized subjects from like-minded people.