Bashing vs. Reasoning

Swearing

Like many bloggers, I visit other blogs to read various viewpoints of topics I’m interested in. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people who disagree with a majority viewpoint go off on others without any consideration for individuality. I frequently see, and hear, people attacking others as a group from emotion rather than reason.

If you support a certain cause, by default you are surely a cannibalistic Yeti-worshipping bigot who chews on jagged rocks and rolls around in uranium-enriched cow dung. That’s about how much sense people who go on blogs and instantly rip into others sometimes make to me. They assume that everyone who agrees on just this one thing is a mindless zombie who would commit extremist acts in the name of tofu or wool socks.

So I ask– what has happened to intelligent debate? It can be enlightening and exciting to intellectually spar with others who utilize fact-based reason or empathy-based emotion. Great, world-changing feats can be accomplished when people from different viewpoints listen to each other.

But what I see is “you *(^*&(* (*)*+#@s! &(^(*& this! *)(* that! )(*)(# all of you!” And I think– really? That’s how you argue? And do you ever win, or persuade other people to think like you do? When exactly did you start using George Carlin’s “seven words” routine as a substitute for reason and logic? Is a strategy that instantly defaults to personal attacks really going to camouflage the times you don’t have connecting neurons behind your argument?

Sure, we all get mad and say dumb things. We all lose our tempers sometimes. But when you’re trying to convince someone that you’re right, you’re not going to convince them if you rage at them and call them names. You’re also going to cause them to tune you out if you presume to know their background, education, beliefs, thought processes, and loyalties.

I’ve marveled over this dynamic in domestic situations as well. If someone just screams abusively and throws a tantrum, they’re not persuasive, they’re self-defeating. They might as well run around yelling “blah blah blah oongawa fwlawaaaa feegeeweee!” because that’s about how much sense that makes. Disrespect is one of the quickest ways to get someone to stop listening to you. (Notice how the people who blatantly disrespect you are also the ones telling you that you’re “not listening.”)

This is also why I can’t stand watching news commentary programs most of the time. I don’t see a lot of intelligent debate. Sometimes what I see is hateful people going for shock value, stabbing at each other with verbal knives. It’s a spectator sport, like professional wrestling in suits with all the mud-slinging and drama. It’s a sad imitation of what true debate should be.

The bottom line is that if you’re going to argue, bring your A game. Freaking out and screaming epithets only makes you look bad. It also shows that you’re out to hurt people more than convince them. Bullies do this; they feel better about themselves by putting others down. It can also be an admission that you’re outgunned and know you can’t win.

As a domestic violence survivor who’s heard *&@)(* (*#)*( !@*&^&! for years, I have little tolerance for emotional tirades that are intended to harm others. )(_#(_) !@$^$# is generally about tearing people down and invalidating their feelings. It shows weakness, and cowardice, not strength.

Here’s a thought along these lines that I posted on another forum tonight… and was predictably attacked for using “big words” by the commenter spouting the (*$#$(*& #@$* junk.

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Making generalizations about people who have empathy for other living creatures is unproductive. People who advocate for humane treatment of animals come from a wide variety of backgrounds and political and religious beliefs. Empathy is not Democrat or Republican, Lutheran or Buddhist.

Threatening violence against people who hold different views, who to my knowledge have never performed any of the jihadist acts listed here– which would endanger lives that we can all agree should be preserved– is bigoted and perverse. Threats and name calling often exist in such forums in lieu of intelligent, respectful dialogue because people are acting from emotion instead of reason.

I’ve always seen other viewpoints welcome on this forum, but often see it in the form of anger and insults rather than logic and persuasive facts. To dissenters I say– bring your thoughts, but do it respectfully. I’m open to other viewpoints. I want to be sure I’m considering all sides and making objective decisions. I shun groupthink. I also wonder what else is wrong in people’s lives that causes them to label, categorize, and falsely accuse total strangers.

We are a diverse crowd that doesn’t always agree on how to handle these issues. But we are united by a respect and empathy for a beautiful, intelligent creature that has needs beyond what entertainment venues can give. No one with half a brain wants to just throw them back in the ocean and watch them die; there are better plans, like sea pens, for trying to get these orcas out of their swimming pools and back to more native environments.

The bottom line: if you really want to convince people of your views, you won’t do it by threatening them, berating them, accusing them of fantasizing about things that don’t seem to have a basis in reality, or calling them names. If that garbage continues, then it’s clear this is about bashing people, not reasoning with them.

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I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being. – Jackie Robinson

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©2011 H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com.

5 thoughts on “Bashing vs. Reasoning

  1. Well said! Big words and all. Along the same lines, I don’t know when people decided that cynisism was the same as intelligence. Assuming that all people are bad and doing things for selfish purposes is NOT productive. I can be an optimist and a realist and the same time. It’s just harder.

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    1. Thanks! I really didn’t think the words were that big, but someone else did… I guess semi-articulate females are SCARY.

      You have some profound points. The cynicism one has me thinking about my own cynicism…

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  2. Feel free to link. I enjoy reading your posts and look forward to the one you’re putting together.

    Never let the bullies keep you down. I go with Dr. Seuss: Be who you are and say what you feel because those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.

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  3. I have often bemoaned the state of afairs when looking at heated issues. Too many people form mobs and react in a passion of short sited emotions and only think of their own agenda. People like this scare me. Its the reason I am avoiding even talking about animal rights on my own cat blog. I fear the retribution of angry mobs. I so wish it were not so. I am slowly forming a post in my mind along similar issues as you have stated here. If and when I write it, I would love to link to this topic of yours.

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