Tag Archives: Debate

Burnt Out

Here I sit after an eight hour ordeal trying to get police to come deal with a thief, reflecting back on nearly seven years of regular events like this, being attacked for saying thieves do NOT have a right to steal anything they want, trying to adjust to the lack of sleep this causes, AND just reflecting on some of the blog posts I’ve seen lately.

At this point, all I can do with the situation at home is file formal complaints with oversight agencies.  The blog situation is a microcosm of the mess I see everywhere in the world; people so caught up in their pet cause that they’ll say anything and go to seemingly any lengths to rationalize what they say.  I’ve seen this for decades on the internet and elsewhere, but it’s shifted from the rare troll to a common debate tactic.

I had been toying with the idea of starting a separate blog for promoting open communication, getting people to try to listen to one another, and trying to offset some of the hate I see everywhere.  I’ve seen people  I thought were rational make posts saying that one person was evil and neglecting their kids because they travel on their job occasionally.  They wouldn’t spank if they weren’t an ignorant redneck and were actually home to bond with their kids.  Never mind the blogger had no personal knowledge of this person and the post was based strictly on their own biases and need to beat down somebody on the other side.

I’ve seen a nature blog post saying people effectively were a cancer on the universe and were going to cause the entire universe to collapse.  How do you even debate with anything that irrational?  Even if you accept the premise that as children of the divine that we have that much potential power, it also has to presume that that same divine is too short sighted to set up safeguards for the universe against such bad energy.  That would be a pretty damned stupid God to be so short sighted.

If you’re on the “correct” side of an issue, anything goes in the name of the cause.  That used to be called fanaticism and was considered dangerous.

Everything from spanking to politics, religion and environmentalism, people on both sides play loose with facts, launch personal attacks on the other side, resort to gross hyperbole, and completely misrepresent what other people say… all for the sake of making an imagined point.

Reality is, these people only hurt their causes.  That’s a shame since in many cases they have a valid cause.  Hate is only going to get responded to with more hate, unless the other person is an utter Saint.

To paraphrase Proverbs: The gentle word turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Look at the alternative we see nowadays.  The standard “debate” tactic is something along the lines of “You’re a utterly vile human being because you don’t agree with me”.  Does anybody REALLY think THAT will change anyone’s mind?

The reason this tactic has become so common is that people have been stirred up to believe the worst in others.  The older wisdom that’s been lost in the inflated sense of ego is “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by ignorance”.  If people would realize they are NOT infallible, and that the other side might have a point and that there are multiple ways of doing anything, there might be some hope for humanity.

Duality of choice is false logic, designed to control and manipulate people, and / or just completely short sighted.  Let me give an example from classic politics:

Liberals are (stereotypically) big on social problems  or spending and conservatives are equally stereotypically big on defense spending.  Guns or butter as the debate used to be called.  Everybody is divided into two camps and fights away while those in power waste fortunes via graft.  If we looked past the distraction and paid attention to the waste and graft, we’d realize there’s enough money for all of it.  That requires the third option of just making sure the existing money is wisely spent though.

With gross twisting of words, telling half truths and using extreme hyperbole, there’s also the issue of the “speaker” losing credibility with their audience.  When your audience sees or sense a lack of integrity, there’s no way they’ll follow you.  Readers or listeners will often forgive honest mistakes, but a sensed lack of integrity will kill efforts faster than anything, including fanaticism.

If you want to convince others about something, be passionate, but warm.  Part of that being warm means debate the idea, NOT attack the person.  Know your facts, including those the other side believes, and be willing to admit if there are weaknesses for your cause.  Propose alternatives to the “party line”.  Listen to the other side and try to understand what their concerns are.  When you understand where they’re coming from, it’s much easier to come up with a win-win alternative.

And for what it’s worth…  These are the things I was taught in high school and college debate, where I actually went undefeated.  Communication IS the one thing I know, even if it often doesn’t show here thanks to frustration, sleep deprivation and physical pain.

And yes, I’ve disabled comments this time.  I’m sick of all the toxic BS anymore.