Walking into a minefield of flamebait

As we all know, religious and political debates are just impossible. Once you have that kind of passion and unshakable assurance in one’s own correctness, the discussion is never going to be unbiased, and it is unlikely to be civil. I’m not even interested in reading those evolution vs. creationism, Islam vs. everything else, conservatism vs liberalism or pro-life vs pro-choice threads anymore. That kind of vitriol-slathered shitfest is old hat. I’m more interested in something like Buddhism vs. Jainism. What do their arguments look like? “We love and respect animals more than you do!” “I respectfully disagree!”?

I know, I know. That’s a simplification. I’m not here to espouse my views on the content, simply the manner in which they are debated. Please do not assume that I (dis/)agree with anything I discuss here.

Gun control’s another thing. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know shit about guns. But when I try to look things up, there’s at least seventeen different people from all sorts of standpoints telling me each piece of information I’m trying to research is wrong. It has gotten to the point that I cannot trust anything I read, which is a good thing for a skeptic, but kind of bad when I’m trying to learn. At least just the raw numbers and specs can’t lie to me, right? Wait…those fact-checking, statistic-collecting organizations are all shills and morons. Shit. (There is actually no sarcasm here. I’m being 100% sincere when I ask who I can believe when everyone’s a dumbass according to someone else.)

As for people who “use the race/gender card”, I think perhaps if we used “[insert disadvantaged group] relative disprivilege” instead of “[insert perceived privileged group] privilege”,  people would be less cheesed off. It’s still “playing the victim”, so to speak, to say one has disprivilege, but it doesn’t appear to penalize the “offending”, “privileged” groups. It also doesn’t assume superiority of the privileged group, and it doesn’t try to assign apparent rights that can be hotly disputed (whether they’re right is another matter) to that group. It may be more politically correct (although many people hate political correctness too. I can’t win here, can I?).

Nah. That’s stupid. I can’t just tack a negative prefix on a word and expect it to work as a neologism.

Also, on the subject of word usage, “feminism” is now another word for “unreasoning gynocentrism”. Is it really time to use egalitarian or humanist exclusively? And mental illness, too. You can debate its status as an illness depending on your definition of disease. I use this term half-expecting it to be phased out in favour of something more appropriate.

Words, why must you have so many connotations?!

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to have views based on facts that everyone agrees on. Hell, that’s the only kind of view I want. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to have views, full stop. Period. Let’s be inclusive.

Oh, well. Trying not to offend any person is pointless and spineless. People will get offended at you for breathing. I will suck it up and move on.

What really grinds my gears are the blanket statements, the generalizations, and those who mass insult all the adherents of the ideology in an attempt to discredit the ideology (atheist idiot/religious idiot, conservaturd/libtard, etc.).  If you dismiss my views offhand with lazy insults and without providing a rationale backed by evidence and a certain measure of compassion, how the fuck am I supposed to do anything? Respond in turn with my own ad hominem? (I’ve had so much time to complain about complaining that I forgot about what might be the second most popular device: anecdotal evidence, probably because it’s so emotionally compelling, vivid and close. Also used: tu quoque (“you’re a hypocrite, so your statement is invalid”). Unfortunately, being a hypocrite does not devalue your statements. I should know. I’m quite the hypocrite.) That isn’t proper etiquette, and is invalid in a formal debate. And insults aren’t an argument in themselves – how am I supposed to refute a non-argument?

The correct answer is, don’t. No one “wins” in this scenario. Feelings get hurt, mud gets slung, nothing is accomplished except two factions of people being even more convinced that the other is composed of irredeemable twits. No amount of diatribe or wheedling is going to sway them from their strongly held positions. A bout of severe intestinal disease might. That tends to be life-reaffirming. But who would wish that upon anyone? 

“Don’t feed the trolls,” they say. People think they’re hurting the trolls. You aren’t. They’re all sadomasochists. They lap up your indignant attention like the sweet life-giving milk it is. Back slowly away from your computer and do productive real-world things. Perhaps go to a symposium or conference and join a live debate, I don’t know. At least then you get to insult people to their silly-looking faces.

 

 

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