Thursday, September 16, 2004

Why preaching to the choir is important

When discussing the political campaign someone will often say, "Don’t bother, you're preaching to the choir, what's the point?"

The point is that not everyone in the choir has the depth of knowledge you do. Some may even know things that you don't. By reading a political blog or following the issues you have already proved you are a thought leader. By talking about what you have learned you might give some less knowledgeable person just the right bit of information that will help them sway an undecided voter. Or you might help make a voter more confident in his position. Perhaps they can move from an Anyone But Bush person to a genuine Kerry fan with enough good information.

If you can give others good arguments, story lines, sound bites, examples of outrageous mendacity or snappy comebacks to stupid right-wing arguments, you can short circuit the progress of stupid right-wing ideas to others.

I hate to argue, I suspect a lot of people do. I don't really want to spend time with people who have a pocketful of debate tricks, Rush Limbaugh sound bites and one-sided statistics. If you liked to argue you might already spent time to understand the techniques, create comments that blow holes in the other side’s logic, have facts memorized that dispute their one sided statistics and Limbaugh fabrications. But most people don't. They think, “I don't want to engage someone from the other side, so why should I expend the energy to keep all that information in my mind?

Another reason people might not want to engage others is that it often feels that nothing you can say or do would really convince the other person to change their mind. It takes a tremendous amount of stories, personal experiences, and self awareness for people to change their position on something they firmly believe in. Facts alone don’t always do the trick.

But even if you don’t plan to engage others it is important to start gathering these arguments, facts and personal stories. Why? You don’t always know what story, fact, statistic, strongly reasoned viewpoint, personal experience or emotional appeal will change someone’s mind. Your personal story or memorized fact might be the tipping point.

So along those lines here are a few pieces of information that you might not know about, but might prove useful in the future.

From the Schlesinger Report about Abu Ghraib released, August 26, 2004

Five detainees died from abuse during interrogations, it said. Twenty-three cases of detainee deaths were still under investigation -- three in Afghanistan and 20 in Iraq -- the report said.
Get that. It is confirmed that at least five detainees were tortured to death. Twenty-three others still under investigation.

Rumsfeld knew about torture
Evidence of prisoner abuse and possible war crimes at Guantánamo Bay reached the highest levels of the Bush administration as early as autumn 2002, but the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, chose to do nothing about it, according to a new investigation published by the veteran journalist Seymour Hersh.


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