Swiftocracy!: I Cop Out Like a Weasel
For the next two weeks each of my posts will be based off requests. For more information about how that happened, look here.
“Logically and rationally defend something that you are very passionately opposed to.”
One of the keys to being a good debater (and arguably a well rounded person in general) is to understand that there are two sides to every issue. There are very rational and intelligent people out there who disagree with you about numerous topics of importance. It’s just the way things work. Some people, particularly those who have been sheltered from hearing opposing positions explained, have a problem with this. I’ve heard several accounts of people who were so shocked to discover that the people who disagreed with them actually had good reasons to do so that they began to doubt the veracity of all of their beliefs. This is a mistake, of course. There is a mindset that says that the right side of any debate will be immediately and always defendable against all arguments as long as the facts are known. This is incorrect. You can’t even definitively prove that anyone besides yourself exists; you can’t demonstrate beyond doubt that you have a brain. That’s just the way things are. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a right side to a debate, but rather that we all must be comfortable with some level of doubt and that our opponents are not crazy or ignorant if they disagree with us.
Now the request presented to me was to logically and rationally defend something that I’m passionately opposed to. This is something I’m capable of doing. I spend a lot of time reading blogs run by people who disagree with me. I know the arguments. Some I even respect. And if the request had been for me to defends something I’m somewhat opposed to, or just generally opposed to, I would be fine.
But it said passionately opposed to. Very passionately.
And after thinking it over I just can’t do it.
The things I am passionately opposed to are things that I don’t just disagree with but that I think are actively harmful to humanity. Things that, if I could, I would wipe from the face of the earth. Things that make my blood boil and my hands tremble whenever I try to write about them. I know the arguments in favor of them. Many of them are good arguments (though I think they’re lacking on the whole). But I won’t defend them here. My conscience won’t let me do it. I know the internet. I’ll write up a post with a disclaimer at the top and bottom explaining that I’m actually opposed to these things and this is just an exercise, and those disclaimers will be ignored. These people will be just Googling around on the subject and they’ll find this post and they will find support for something I find immoral and abhorrent.
I just can’t do it. I really can’t. And the things I’m not that passionate about aren’t really that interesting. I’m not particularly passionate about politics. Or food. Or Mac vs. PC or whatever. I mean I’m a PC guy and I make fun of Mac users but really it’s a completely legitimate OS with it’s own unique strengths. If it was just myself and my friends shooting the breeze then I’d have no problem with this exercise. But this is the internet. This is the public sphere. I have very little influence on anyone, really. But what influence I have I feel the need to use wisely.
So yeah. Total cop out on my part here. Sorry about that.
Don’t mess with the passion!