Apologies to Ann Coulter for the headline...
As I've wandered the Web, and before the Bulletin Board Systems that preceded the Web, I have come to realize one thing--and it applies to any side of an issue people are debating...
People don't know how to argue.
I don't mean that they don't know how to USE ALL CAPITAL LETTERS and sling around phrases like "your'e a Nazzi!" and "no YOU'RE a Nazi, and learjn to splell, idiot".
What I mean is that people have forgotten (or never knew) how to form a logical, amiable thread of conversation that informs and ties back to the idea or solution they are proposing or debating.
We tend to think of this problem belonging to liberals alone, but conservatives are certainly not immune. Here are 10 tips that will put conservatives ahead of the game in arguments with liberals.
- Understand that "argument" in the academic sense doesn't mean shouting down. It means having a reasoned and courteous debate using facts and truth as the foundation of your point of view.
- No name calling. Just don't do it. It just turns into those playground affairs where someone goes running to their teacher (or the ACLU). Be a "better man or woman" than your opponent.
- No typing IN ALL CAPS. Not only does it reveal your inability to express yourself intelligently, it's hard to read, off-putting, and distracts readers from your points.
- Please, for the love of Merriam-Webster, spell check, use correct punctuation and grammar, and make sure your word use is correct. I'm just not going to take you seriously if you have bad spelling, if you use "it's" when you mean "its", or if you think you know what a word means when it's obvious to everyone that you don't.
- Feel free to post counterpoints on opposition blogs and web sites. But don't be a troll...anywhere. What really won't help is that they'll track you back to your own online community and begin trolling you there as revenge. That sucks for all of us.
- Get your facts straight before you post. Make sure timelines make sense and that your sources are worthy of some amount of trust. If they're not, be forthcoming.
- Without becoming a bleeding heart, at least try to put yourself in your opponent's shoes before counter-arguing. If you can successfully see things from their perspective, your own argument will be informed and you can anticipate their objection before you have to react to it.
- Read, read, read. Don't just devour your own point of view. Read liberal lit and take notes. If you can pull examples from their own writings of why they're wrong, your kung fu will dominate and the masters of manipulation will become the students of truth.
- Talk to people in real life and hone your verbal argument skills. When we rely exclusively on writing blog entries and arguing in discussion forums, we lose out on opportunities to destroy stereotypes by putting a real face on conservatism.
- Call out stereotypes when you see liberals indulging in them and avoid indulging in them yourself. I know. It's hard. I do it all the time and I try not to. Read about Dunbar's Number (a.k.a. "The Monkeysphere" (Warning: so-called "mature" language here)) to see why it's so easy to do this and think of ways around it for your particular liberal acquaintances.
There are obviously more. Share in the comments.