randombio.com | political commentary
Friday, May 20, 2016

Argumentation in the Internet-driven world

Let the bastards get their nose under the tent on just one issue you don't care much about, and the next thing you know there's no freedom of speech at all.

W e've all seen those zombie movies where our plucky heroes somehow manage to get themselves surrounded by dead people who chase them around at the breathtaking speed of roughly 0.3 miles per hour. My question is: why do none of these people ever have a machine gun? Even a couple of well-placed hand grenades would clear a nice path of escape. Doesn't everybody have several crates of these in their basement?*

What I'm saying is that in the movies, as in real life, if you're not willing to reply to attacks with sufficient authority, when there are only a few of the bastards around, you could end up getting outwitted by people who are, for all practical purposes, brain dead.

Zombies Zombies walking slowly to avoid stepping on a land mine

By brain dead people I mean the SJWs and their allies in the news media and in government. And by bastards I mean the idiotic rules they mean to strangle us with.

We're all taught it's a useful debating tactic to concede that, yes, your opponent is an honorable gentleman or lady and that his or her arguments are very nice and well thought out. When debating liberals, of course, you would have to say zir arguments are very nice and ze/she/whatever/gender fluid person/person of liquidity/color/hue/texture is ... by which time you forget what you were lying about.

But the Internet has changed all that. If you concede anything, by the Rules of the Internet, you are admitting you've been wrong your whole life and you would nip off in the corner and shoot yourself except that you now realize that gun control is really the only way to minimize destruction of human life.

The flood of opinions and contradictory facts on the Internet has broken the narrative that there is a narrative and the news media are in control of it.

To win an argument with a liberal you have to think like one. That doesn't mean you have to whack yourself on the head with a two by four until you think ‘socialism’ is the same as ‘being nice to people’, but it means arguing with specific, concrete examples instead of complex, abstract principles.

For instance, in gun control arguments we often talk about how it's a right enumerated in the Second Amendment. In our minds, that fact alone should be enough to clinch the argument. But to our opponents the Constitution is just a bunch of rules, and rules exist to be broken. The most powerful argument to a gun control advocate is to say that only an armed person can defend against an armed assailant. Even some Europeans recognize this as a compelling argument.

Gun rights advocates are already effective, but they could do even better by taking the offensive: for example, they could push for laws requiring teachers in schools to carry firearms. Schools care a lot about money, so they don't want to hire cops, but they can't argue against this on the basis of cost.

Now I admit I'm not a firearms person. but the same arguments work for any of our civil liberties: speech, religious expression, assembly. Threaten one and you get the libertarians angry. As mild-mannered David Banner (aka the Incredible Hulk) used to say, you wouldn't like us when we're angry. Hell, some of you don't like us when we're being nice.

But neither conservatives nor libertarians resisted much when the government went after the tobacco companies for their unwelcome opinions. Now the government is going after the global warming skeptics. It's a clear attempt to impose a devastating financial burden on anybody who tries to exercise their Constitutional rights.

In the UK they're going even farther. Tobacco companies are now forbidden (Trigger warning: paywall) to put their brand names on their own products. It's a clear attempt by the government to drive them out of business.

Maybe you don't care about firearms or cigarettes. Maybe you even think AGW is a problem. But tomorrow it might be some scientist who discovers that snail darters are an invasive species or that trans-fatty acids have some hitherto unrecognized health benefit. The next day it could be sugar or pornographers or people with large balances in their bank accounts.

Let the bastards get their nose under the tent on just one issue you don't care much about, and the next thing you know there's no freedom of speech at all. That's the nature of civil liberties. You have to fight on principle for things you don't care about to protect the things you do. Simply put, we can't afford to take prisoners.

When the government gets in the business of defining truth, telling the truth is a dangerous thing.

* I'm kidding, of course, I don't have any of these in my basement. But then, I'm not in a zombie movie ... yet.

Updated May 21, 2016, 5:53 am

Related Articles

Argumen­tation in a post-logical world
The rules of debate have changed. We must become more analytical in detecting and refuting hidden assumptions in the debate.

Power to the Xeeple
Xe Must Implement Absolute Language Equality

On the Internet, no one can tell whether you're a dolphin or a porpoise
Name and address
book reviews