Thursday, August 11, 2011

Why so mean? Learn how to debate!

Debate or debating is a formal method of interactive and representational argument. Debate is a broader form of argument than logical argument, which only examines consistency from axiom, and factual argument, which only examines what is or isn't the case or rhetoric which is a technique of persuasion. Though logical consistency, factual accuracy and some degree of emotional appeal to the audience are important elements of the art of persuasion, in debating, one side often prevails over the other side by presenting a superior "context" and/or framework of the issue, which is far more subtle and strategic.

First I want to start by saying I am not going to get into specifics of the debate I am referring to in this post.  What the debate was about is not the point.  It is how the debate was handled.

As all of us know, being a parent seems to entitle us to some very strong opinions.  Some of which we can't help but share with everyone.  I find myself in debates most often due to someone making a false generalization.  Whether it is political or parenting, I feel every opinion deserves to be heard.  I just can't stand it when someone tries to support a point with lies or name calling.

I recently responded to a link that someone had posted that was political.  I wasn't so much even taking a side as stating that there was more to the issue than what they posted.  As the debate progressed, I chose not to stick so much with my political side, but to point out the errors of politicians, on both sides of the aisle, over the past few decades.  All I received in return was name calling and absolutely no facts were presented.  Literally, I was called ignorant and a litany of other names.  At no point was anything I said attacking this persons specific political affiliation, just that the issue at hand was bigger than what they were focusing on. 

It was during this debate that I started to realize that the art of debate has really declined.  I love a good debate.  I love learning and I love when someone with an opposing view can give me verifiable facts that I can research.  I am willing to debate over anything, as long as it is a true debate, not a personal attack.  I look at politicians, religious figures, parents and I realize that we all could use a lesson in how a debate works.  I am simply amazed how dumbed down debates have become over the years.  They are almost to the point of grade school recess arguments.  The person who can come up with the best name calling wins.  Why have we let it come to this?

The kicker to the "debate" I had with this person is that they consider themselves a born again Christian.  I asked at one point why they were so bitter, a question that went unanswered.  I would have expected someone who is very religious to not stoop to name calling and personal attacks.  I guess I just like to live in my happy little place where my world revolves solely around Wildman and Sweet Pea.  As this person said to me, "Ignorance is bliss, you must be very blissful".  If only it was that easy, right?

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