This is something that’s been bugging me for a while now, particularly from one of my friends on Facebook who is particularly egregious. Sometimes we just throw courtesy out the window when we talk politics (or anything else we feel passionate about), and it’s not only rude, but ineffective. So I’m laying out some pointers.
1. Don’t insult the other side. Don’t. Just don’t do it. Don’t talk like your position is the only intelligent position, don’t make fun of people who don’t see things your way. If you can, stop even FEELING this way, but at the very least stop SAYING it. No one will be convinced by being told they are stupid, and it’s just not funny.
2. Don’t back up your position with biased sources. It throws your credibility out the window. If you start throwing out Rush Limbaugh quotes, the only people who are going to keep listening to you are the Rush Limbaugh fans. Same with Huffington Post or Sean Penn.
3. If you don’t like the majority rule where you are, consider moving rather than whining all the time about it. Yes, we should remain politically active. But most of the time the approach is just a matter of opinion, not a moral dilemma, so going to extremes to fight the majority is just going to make a lot of people unhappy. So if the place where you’re living has too many gun-toting, Christ-loving, Republican capitalist pigs, consider moving to San Francisco, Oregon, or even Canada. Or if there are too many tree-hugging, weed smoking, liberal, communist subversives, make your way to Idaho or Utah. Or learn not to care so much. Seriously, people. There is a solution that will make most people happier.
4. If you MUST say something, and you’re being polite and using a source that’s as objective as possible, please do your research before mouthing off. And no, I don’t mean ‘I heard this from a comedy show’ (even though they MAY have a good base point). Actually look up the research, and if you can, look up data from the opposing viewpoint as well. It may open your eyes enough that you find the need to mouth off diminishing, but if not, then at least you are showing your audience the respect they deserve.
5. Study a bit of logic and apply it to your arguments. Are you using ad hominem attacks? What about straw men? What about a dozen other logical fallacies? Not only do these types of attacks get the other side all riled up, but they make you look stupid. Sure, if you’re preaching to the choir you’ll get lots of support anyway, but it’s a good idea to prepare for an opposing viewpoint anyway.
6. Assume the best of your opponents. I mean, seriously. Most people who don’t like Obama as President are NOT racist, most people who argue for global warming are NOT enviro-nazis. To jump to extremes is both disingenuous and insulting.
It’s 4:57 a.m. so I can’t think of any other points, but I had to get those out there so I can go back to sleep. The point of this is that conversation is better than rhetoric or attacks, and we can all at least be civil one to another. Please, let’s play nice.