Discussion in 'Debate and Discussion' started by bluedaffy, Nov 26, 2012.
(why I'm on the internet)
This topic sorta mirrors the 'Can you be friend with a Republican'-thread, so many have already given their answers there.
For me it's a question of letting the small things slide for the sake of preserving the pleasant mood, but if what people are saying is wrong enough, or if they're not showing me the same courtesy, then I'm not shutting up. Yesterday at the family christmas dinner (yes, we were early, but that was the only day everybody was free) I had to raise my voice agains my father in law, because he kept ranting about how the mooooslems were taking over the country (I live in one of the whitest countries on the planet).
But to honest, I don't have too many friends that are so very wrong. Can't stand to be around them, don't see a possibility of changing their views, so I don't.
(In the other thread I told about giving up on the chance of a weekend of beer, steaks and boardgaming because one of the participants is a loudmouthed "We should privatize the roads" lolbertarian and I just couldn't stand the thought of a weekend of being polite around that)
I find it helps having a couple friends who are "that guy" so I have a tangible example of something to avoid doing myself. Of course that sometimes backfires because "those guys" can draw me in sometimes.
I have a harder time resisting someone who is clearly wanting to argue than starting anything myself. I am trolled easily in real life, I guess. :(
As a general rule I'd say it's best not to regularly attend parties in which you're choosing between starting an argument and moral cowardice because of keeping silent, but I know some people can't pick their relatives and so on. And in the case of fairly minor political stupidity I'd say a party among people who aren't themselves political nerds is a bad place for a political argument, much less verbal fisticuffs, even if that means ignoring some stupid shit.
But if you're actually painted into a situation where staying silent is discreditable, where you're worried others might be in the same situation you're in, etc, I'd say the best approach is to politely but firmly say you think XYZ is utter nonsense and bid everyone good evening. You limit the the maximum social collateral damage (it's tough for people to be mad at you for being so offended you've left, and in theory a polite good-day-sir doesn't completely explode the party) and you remove yourself from a no win situation with some self-respect.
This is kind of a good question, and one I've had to deal with in various degrees.
Probably anyone who's followed my posting here and on qt3 knows I'm a bit of a policy wonk. I'm far from the smartest guy in the room, but I'm smarter than most and my ability to understand details allows me to pretty much own the vast majority of the political conversations you encounter in a social setting. What that means is that in 95% of the cases I can probably make someone who's saying something I don't like look and feel like an idiot. That's not to say that they are an idiot, it's just that I'm a fucking nerd and I can pull up enough stats and whatnot off the top of my head to leave them flustered and wondering just what the fuck happened.
For a while I actually kind of liked doing that. I'll be honest: it's rather gratifying. It's gratifying in the I'm the smartest kid in the room way, gratifying in the sense that I've kind of kicked everyone down so I can stand tall. In other words: total dick move. Over the past few years I've begun to recognize what a dick move it is, and I've tried to exercise some amount of humility. The simple fact is that most people don't wonk out on policy the way I do, they're not reading papers and brief and etc etc and it's unreasonable for me to expect them to do so. Smashing them across the face with my superior knowledge, however satisfying, doesn't really accomplish much.
So basically, I just don't. I avoid talking politics in social situations. There are only a handful of situations which get me going, almost all of which involve people being genuinely hateful. You know, sexist / racist stuff. Then I'll go all out and do my best to make them look and feel like the shits they are. One of my favorite opening gambits when faced with someone who makes one of those sort of vague racist statements is to ask them to clarify exactly what they mean. Lots of people are willing to obliquely hint at racism when they think they're in sympathetic company, but when called on it they totally fold. It's kind of hilarious to see, actually. And depressing. :(
Yeah, there's only a few topics I'll go apeshit about. For instance, a passing reference to fear about the use of immunizations at a dessert filled with old friends lead to a tactical nuclear detonation precisely, precisely in the face of the dumbass who didn't have a clue what they were talking about and were likely dumb enough to have trouble with condoms leading to the whole conversation coming up in the first place.
There's a time and a place to suffer fools. That was not one of them.
jeffd is right. It is very gratifying to kick sand in someone's face with the sheer number of facts you throw in their face. I'm young enough that I feel no qualms at jumping into conversations at parties/reunions/family gettogethers or starting shit or escalating shit. Others can write me off as being young and nuts and maybe someone will think more deeply on it.
I recently started persuading my dad to do this (he is in his pre-60s) and it is awesome to watch the reverse. At Thanksgiving it took all of his being to not argue with my cousin because she was against the gay marriage initiative in WA because it forced too much on to religious organizations and folks. He knows quite a few gay couples from church and so has very strong opinions on the matter.
Another (terrible) option in those situations,
bluedaffy, is, instead of arguing, simply troll your opponents and maybe back them into some indefensible position and, when the trap is complete, call them on it.
There's an artform to subtly disagreeing while being funny at a party. No one is looking to determine truth.
Ok I started this babbling, I am now trying again. Some say I always babble but I am trying to find words that do not offend but still get my points across. This may indicate this thread's ultimate point is that it is not entirely possible.
There are things that need to change in humans and I have no idea how to propose we do so.
We need to find a way to achieve status with each other that DOES NOT INVOLVE someone else losing status so that we may gain it.
I don't even know where to start on that but it is the root of much bullshit in our societies.
We need to accept that there really is only one number one, and we might not be it. Most of us do this over the course of our lives ..but we spent several generations now telling children they -are- number one no matter what. Most of at least one of those generations is hitting late middle age now, and we are an angsty lot.
The concept that other people, animals, plants (we aren't entirely sure but lets just include them to be safe) hell maybe even stars have feelings and we should try to do things to negate our own effect on them to the degree we are able. Does this mean I won't eat steak? No but maybe synthsteak from the miracle box is looking really good about now.
The human race is not the best thing since the world was invented, arrogant nonsense only leads to horrible things. We have seen it in our religions, our race relations, our concept of self.. this has to stop. Come to think of it this is similar to there is one number one and you aren't it, cept it is more as a race consciousness.
These are things I think of when talking to people, trying to get them to understand strange concepts for whatever reason. I spend a great deal of time coaching various internet lost in how to go out and find someone /something that might make them happy for a change. Why do I do this? Because no one else will, or at least no one I meet regularly. I did find one, and funny enough he had something to teach me, as I taught him something.
I suppose what I am trying to say is always attempt , if for a moment , to see things from the side of those you are talking to. Doesn't mean you still can't be wrong. I am wrong regularly, but I am less upset about my wrongs and more willing to try again.
Well, as a salesman who did some canvassing (fuck yall haters), I find out and out aggression is the most effective tactic when someone spews bigotry.
Bigotry isn't about facts, it's about opinions. You can't beat it with reasoned debate or facts. You can, however, associate the expression of those opinions with white hot pain and eliminate yet another safe place for the expression of those opinions. I've taken this as far as hectoring people on the bus, most fabulously by forcing two male bigots to admit that their lack of iterest in marrying or reproducing made them functionally gay (from the perspective of their arguments against gay marriage), so they might as well get married to one another.
I'm more inclined to give someone leeway on their political opinions than on their bigotry because I get that people can assign different weights to values and arrive a radically different conclusions. Also I don't hold much stock with regurgitating memorized facts; if that convinced anyone ever you could simply walk around clubbing people into submission with an encyclopedia. And there's an additional tactical concern: in a race to face argument, all facts have equal weight (slightly better than none) because no one is going to check the sources. Make it about facts and you turn it into a shouting match.
A witticism followed by staking out a position on the moral high ground tends to offer an effective line of attack on the more virulent libertarian strains, as they can't effectively push back without making themselves look like an asshole to the group. Once they're isolated and forced to defend, harry their positions with short questions that require long answers. Then politely interrupt them when they have a go by asking further clarifying questions. Eventually they're either sidetracked down an irrelevant tangent (which you can close off using a non sequitur) or so pissed that they say something that alienates the group (be sure to play for sympathy by disarming the situation with a "should we really be shouting about something as silly as politics at a party?" or similar). You're playing for the audience, not to win over the unrepentant nutter. Do stuff that makes your opponent look nutty and unreasonable (but don't ask 'baby eating' questions, that kind of stuff is trivial to evade and offers an opening).
If you absolutely genuinely must batter them into submission, good luck. They spend all their time thinking about their silly obsession, have canned lines ready to go for all the traditional assaults, and they're used to existing in a landscape where facts themselves are contestable. I tried this against a Creflo Dollar adherent and got my ass handed to me; the NYT and other respectable publications saying he was a corrupt scammer didn't matter because faith, and my incredulity at this line was used to win the crowd. Making someone with experience at being crazy look the asshole through reason is tough. It's much easier to make them look ridiculous.
He fights FOR US
That's depends on your goal, of course. You can have a lot of fun pretending to be one of them.
More seriously, that was a great post Aeon. I think the quoted bits bear repeating. If you for some reason have to engage an extremist it seems to me that your effort is better spent framing the discussion/slap fight/whatever in a way that a somewhat more moderate audience can digest. Otherwise, there's really no point to having an argument with someone who thinks up is down.
As it pertains to intentional social interactions I'd rather have discussions like the Sanctum thread
bluedaffy linked above which is a discussion largely between atheists on how to interact with a christian majority, as opposed to a direct debate about the qualities of christianity vs atheism. Those kinds of debates can have their place and when I was a newly minted teenage atheist I used to enjoy them, but usually it won't amount to anything beyond waiting for your turn to speak. That is boring to me now. At least, it certainly doesn't require a second person's participation if I want to "talk to myself", as bluedaffy puts it. I guess I'm more insular for it and that's probably worth a think. :)
For me it depends on exactly what's going on. I routinely play games online with groups of people I don't know well, so I occasionally run into people dropping "that's gay" or something similar. They usually don't intend offense, and throwing TOO big a bomb over it would just get me ostracized, but I want them to understand that it's not okay to say that. Something like "hey can we not do that, thanks" usually does the trick. They often already know they shouldn't, but the habit is ingrained.
Straight-up, intentional bigotry -- be it sexism, or homophobia, or racism, or what have you -- I'll yell about and I don't care who knows it. People like that should be made to feel such shame as to traumatized them permanently.
I try not to say nothing, because I've said nothing in the past and I always feel real bad about it later. I'm sure in the future I will fail again. But I aspire to reducing and eventually eliminating my rate of failure.
bluedaffy Quite well! The goal is to shut the bigots out of the discourse. So if they say anything awful, I go all shouty cray cray until they apologize or fuck off. I can't fix whatever's broken in their heads, but I can stop them from using what's in there to abuse other people.
I could go for a more reasonable argument, but people shouldn't have to justify their identity to some fucking cock pellet. On the other paw maybe that justifying process is how you unfuck a bigot's mind. Who knows! Not I!
I'm hardly the last word on talking to people though.
This is an interesting point. Thinking about it now, most of the times I've yelled at people they basically knew they were being shitty and didn't care ("that's so gay"), or weren't thinking clearly about how shitty it is (I once yelled at someone who tried to defend his use of a racial slur by way of Chris Rock, i.e., the "there are two kinds of black people" line). Once it starts costing them social capital they start to care and/or think.
I need to think about this because I'm pretty sure you're right and it won't make people who don't think what they're doing is shitty stop doing it.
Guys I'm arguing with a dude on Facebook about socialized health care and I can't stop. How do I stop?
I'm not a smart guy, and a terrible debater, but he keeps laying up softballs for me to crush out of the park and dodges all my questions with bullshit.
I feel like if I stop responding he'll think he won.
I never do this I don't know what got into me.
Staring into the abyss you are.
Why do you care what he thinks?
I DON'T KNOW!
In general political discussions on Facebook are the least common denominator of political discussion. At least forums like this one self-select for people who are inclined to be minimally interested and informed; Facebook discussions are just people spouting off with no basis.
I think I won the argument, at least I am satisfied with how I left it. I got in one really good zinger that he could not recover from, and I felt really great and satisfied when I posted it.
Now, after winning the Facebook argument, I feel ashamed and disgusted with myself, not unlike how I feel after masturbating.
I still don't get why you bothered with this argument, but I guess time you really wanted to beat it.
Separate names with a comma.