the way they treat newbies/relative outsiders here. At this point it goes beyond questions about the image of this community to fundamental questions of basic human decency
Sadly that is an attitude that is endemic to internet discussions. My own experience is that this place is a beacon of tolerance and understanding compared to some. It is a broad church, however, and it has its share of curmudgeons (of which I am probably one), lunatics and single-issue fanatics. As the thread maybe demonstrates, many here have thin skins but sharp tongues. I get the impression that the British posters tend to have the thinner skins when it comes to anything which is seen to threaten their orthodoxy and can be somewhat barbed in their parochialism.
Not that the thread topic isn't perfectly valid in itself - but it has had the effect of pulling back the chairs in the bar for the usual scrap. Something which must seem rather baffling and petty when viewed from Missouri.