What passes for “debate” these days

In the past people would debate ideas, with the goal being the search for the truth or for the better idea/solution.

Today it’s just about winning. It’s no longer a debate, it’s an argument. And nobody wins an argument.

The approach taken has one, or if needed, two, steps:

  • Step 1: Shut down your opponent
    • Either you are a victim,
      • You claim one of the “protected” victim categories.
      • Anybody who says anything against you is obviously a bad person.
    • Or label your opponent as a Nazi or some other vile category.
      • Misstate their position as something abhorrent.
      • Accuse them of a vile deed.
      • No need for the truth, it’s no longer a value we care about.
    • Once you’ve smeared your opponent, the audience will not listen to your opponent. They’ve been trained to tune out people with a negative label.

If they do continue and try to defend themselves or their position, then on the the next step.

Step 2: End the conversation.

Don’t allow the audience to hear any opinion other than yours.

  • “I don’t want to talk about it any more.”
    • You’re upsetting me.
    • You’re evil, a nazi/racist/…
    • I don’t debate nazis/racists/etc.

You can feel virtuous about yourself, for you have won a victory for morality and the greater good.

Who cares that you haven’t solved anything, or made the world a better place. You’ve “won”, and that’s all that matters.

This approach has poisoned the public square. I worry about the future which can only be built with the search for better ways to do things.

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