I found this today, and, given the complaints emanating from high above in the Atomic Dog columns about how quickly debates in off-topic devolve into name-calling fests (“Hitler!”, “Whore!” “Communist!” oh my…), I thought it would make a most excellent post. While it’s not specifically about posting, I’m certain all of you clever folks can digest the main idea and make it applicable. The idea about ravenous monkeys, however, is always applicable. Enjoy!
A Frank Guide to a Cordial Political Discussion
Most often people will disagree on issues of the day, but just because someone doesn’t think like you doesn’t mean you should call him evil and kill him. That’s what Islamic extremists and the majority of posters at Democratic Underground would do. Instead, following these steps you can have a nice discussion with someone with different viewpoints and both come out of it smarter.
DO consider the merits of viewpoints different to your own.
DON’T throw out your own principles just to be agreeable. No one gains from that.
DO listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Try to understand their different viewpoint.
DON’T use the time while the other person is speaking as just an opportunity to formulate your own rebuttal.
DO try to find areas of agreement no matter how much you differ on an issue.
DON’T compare the other person’s views to Hitler. Hitler was a bad man, and no one likes being compared to him.
DO keep on topic. You’re more likely to learn from each other if you keep the talk focused.
DON’T kick the other person in the groin when he strays. He might forget what you were talking about in the first place.
DO make all disagreements in a friendly tone.
DON’T follow all disagreements with putting the other person’s head through drywall. That gives who you’re talking to no time to consider what you said. Also, it’s hard to repair the drywall and paint over it perfectly to cover up the hole.
DO agree to disagree when reaching a stopping point.
DON’T declare an intifada and blow yourself and the other person up so you can get 72 virgins. You both lose if you do that, and you should focus on finding one nice girl (or guy) in this world.
DO stick to your principles while still considering what the other person says.
DON’T pile drive the other person into a folding table when you find a topic you vehemently disagree on. Though it would be cool, it’s just not civil.
DO back up your statement with facts when necessary.
DON’T punch the other person through the chest, pull out his heart, and show it to him before he dies when you feel run into a corner. That’s usually a non-sequitur to the debate… unless the debate is whether you can actually pull someone’s heart out and show it to him before he dies.
DO make sure not to get caught up arguing minutia.
DON’T burn the other person’s house down over a small disagreement on a fact. Yes, insurance will probably cover it, but he’ll be less likely to listen to what else you say.
DO make sure to not raise your tone of voice no matter how heated things get.
DON’T silently lower the other person in a slow dipping device into a pit full of ravenous monkeys until he admits you’re right. Getting the other person to agree with you through other means that intelligent discussion gains nothing for either party.
DO be willing to admit you?re wrong if the other person is convincing. Admitting you’re wrong can seem painful, but, when you do it, you suddenly become right.
DON’T commit seppuku if you discover you?re wrong on an issue. There are other ways to bring honor to your family.
Follow these rules and you should have some nice, friendly, intelligent discussions. Hooray!