Re: Better argumentation style than abuse / Debate groupSubmitted by jspark311 on Sun, 01/13/2008 - 10:04
Before I get to the meat of my post, I am a student (male/24yrs-old) at Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, AZ. Feel free to flag me down at school. I answer to Ian and I will argue with you (civilly) about anything.
I would just like to clarify a few things before I give some tough-love to my fellow Ron Paul supporters...
1) I will not ever be attracted to (or be repulsed from) a candidate by the conduct of his/her supporters. Obama's supporters often impress me a great deal, but I can't swallow Obama's ideas. I'm for Ron Paul and that isn't bloody likely to change.
2) I love the amazing diversity and initiative of supporters Ron Paul has. I think it speaks quite well of Dr. Paul to have the support that he has.
3) I know we're in the Primaries and we support a candidate that is open to being marginalized by not only the media, but by people who don't like to think in ways that make them uncomfortable (more on that later). This leads to frustration on our part, and the epithets and allegations are bound to drop.
All that being said, I become distressed when I see video links like this on YouTube:
"RON PAUL SLITS HILLARY CLINTONS COMMIE THROAT!"
Ok... That's a bit over the top.
In logic, that's called ad hominem abusive. And it's unprofessional to say the least.
Campaigning is like dating (from a male's perspective) in the sense that both activities are persuasive in nature. In dating the goal is sex, and in campaigning the goal is acquiring mind-share for an idea. But in both cases, the arguer has something to gain from causing the audience to change his/her mind about a very personal and possibly deeply-held belief.
Rhetoric (not a pejorative, but rather the act of arguing) is a beautiful art and it is going to be our best friend in months ahead.
In rhetoric, one need not follow a rigid form. One need not even be *right* or have proof of *anything* (although it helps immensely).
But one thing that we do need very badly for effective rhetoric is credibility and tact. Neither of which gets conveyed by YouTube titles like...
"Ron Paul wipes the floor with a smug Fox News hack"
...even if it is the truth as we perceive it. I loved that clip by the way.
But the title reeks of ad hominem.
Many of the pro-Paul comments I see on YouTube and elsewhere are the equivalent of a dating strategy whereby a drunk male smacks a girl's a$$ and then asks for a date with vulgar language.
It might be attention-grabbing, but it isn't nearly convincing. And probably works against your cause by forming a bad association between your bad form, and the legitimately kind-natured candidate that we are trying to support.
Dr. Paul isn't a throat-slitter. From what I've seen in many of his public appearances, he seems unsure about how to handle crowds (which can only mean that his success is derived from honesty and sound ideas).
Let's not become sheeple ourselves... If you can't articulate the core of a Libertarian philosophy, don't try to make up for it with volume and invective. Please do some honest hard work and read something challenging. Doing so will differentiate you from nearly everyone.
Learn economics (Thomas L. Friedman - The World is Flat)
Learn about biology and psychology (Steven Pinker - The Blank Slate)
Learn about political theory (Thomas Sowell - A Conflict of Visions)
For the philosophically inclined, our country has had this argument many times before in different dress. Read the Federalist and the Anti-Federalist.
And probably most importantly, learn how to argue effectively. Go to debates and relax before hand.
Don't go for blood. But know how to draw a measured amount of it if you are put on the defensive for illegitimate reasons.
Don't setup straw-men. It reflects badly on your objectivity.
The best way to win your opponent over is to be able to explain his position better than he himself can. It works miracles and if done correctly, will put him at ease in the role of student. Which is exactly where you want him to be.
Only when someone is in such a state can they learn.
And only when people learn can they voluntarily change their minds.
And if we can't bring a person around to our way of thinking with logic and sound ideas, then our efforts are valueless and we have become the very thing which we habitually oppose.