Friday, June 12, 2009

False Comparisons: SOP in Debates

I was a lousy debater at the Vulcan Science Academy. I was too easily pushed into my human side by Vulcan bullies (as demonstrated by the documentary of one of my alternative timeline lives).

As I got older and my logic took over I got better. I got even better when I began to see the patterns in the debate and give them names. I still didn't really like to do it, I would rather persuade than argue, have a conversation than a debate. Folks who have degrees in rhetoric like my dear friend Interrobang give me names for techniques that I experienced in the right-wingnutosphere.

Some times I knew how to counter them, other times I realized that the person I was debating would never admit they were wrong, but simple switch to another technique to "win" the debate. Since there was usually not a third party to declare victory, like ajudge, debate coach or wise respected parent, they would never stop. Frankly it got tiresome. I also found some wouldn't take YES for an answer. "I AGREE with you! I think Gary Davis is a crummy governor. You've won! Stop trying to convince me."

The people I'm arguing with are usually men, when they have lost they rarely, if ever concede. From the book "You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in conversation" Deborah Tannen explains the loss of status that men often feelwhen it comes to admitting they are wrong, (this explains why they hate to admit they are lost. Even admitting to someone they will never see again, like a gas station attendant, is seen as a status lowering event. )

A long time reader of this blog, Jim, who often brings me good comments that force me to be more complete in my posts, wrote the comment below.

I sometimes wait for one of my other 18 readers to respond, but I figured that I would respond to this. And since I only have 19 readers (which is 16 more than many bloggers) I always try to be polite. I leave the righteous swearing to Athenae at First-Draft.

Here's Jim:

So 1 neonazi nut shoots people and it's caused by right wing talk radio? I suppose you can also say that liberal bloggers supporting muslims cause american soldiers to die because 1 muslim nut killed an american recruiter:

6:11 AM
Blogger spocko said...

Jim, Jim, Jim. Come one, you are usually better than this. And usually your reading comprehension is much much better. Often you provide me with well thought out rebuttals which offer me a chance to make my points clearer. And in the past I've agreed with some of your points. I'm sorry that you jumped to this argument. You are probably rusty (like I know that I am after my vacation).

As you can see I didn't say that right wing talk radio caused the neonazi to shoot people. I said, "I believed that the constant repeating of anger, hate and suggestions of violence toward others had and has a very real effect on people's thinking."

I still believe that my statement is correct. Unless you believe that people are never affected by what their hear. And I don't think you would argue that.

As for your second comment. Come on, that is a weak strawman. I hate the fact that military recruiters were killed. I'm against violence without just cause. I don't condone it, and if you can point to serious public people on the left calling for Muslims to kill American Recruiters I'd like to see it. On the other hand I CAN provide you with audio clips of Lee Rodgers calling for the death of millions of innocent Muslims. I can provide you with audio clips of Brian Sussman wanting to torture Iraqi's by cutting off their fingers and penises. I can provide you with audio clips of Sussman agreeing with a caller who wants to send cruise missiles into Mosques. (hmm, killing defenseless people in their houses of worship, where have we heard of another man doing that lately?)

When Melanie Morgan gathered a bunch of her supporters using her broadcast pulpit at KSFO to have a "show down" at "high noon" with Medea Benjamin of Code Pink during one of her peaceful protests of the military recruiter sites in Berkeley I wrote Morgan's management telling them that her language was inflammatory and that gathering a mob to confront a group for a "show down" at "high noon" (Morgan's words) has a high potential for violence. And guess what? Violence happened. One of Morgan's supporters took a knife and slashed the Code Pink banner and then slashed the cord to Benjamin's microphone. A few inches in another direction and it would have slashed the holder's neck. Now, I have talked to a DOJ attorney about his, talked to Medea and talked to the head of the rally who has photos of the perpertrator. I have audio of Morgan's comments before that event documenting her inflamatory comments.

With all this there are people who will say that isn't enough to show inciting violence to give the government a reason to step in. Okay, fine, but that doesn't mean that the company that funds her can't say, "That is irresponsible, tone it down or we will be on the hook for a civil claim in someone comes after us."
If the government is afraid to act because of their concerns of stifling free speech then we need to ask the responsible corporations to act. To ignore it is to condone it. If the people at the radio station aren't responsible then we need to ask the people who pay the bills, if they want to keep supporting them. The station will act out of fear of lawsuits, and maybe some of them understand the potential for violence and just don't like it for their own brand image.

Michael Rowe has an interesting article over at Huffington Post
That makes the point that, there was "A time when it was expected that citizens would understand the difference between free speech and irresponsible speech."

I don't want to get into the technical and legal definition of hate speech here, but the "falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater" argument has to do with the potential for injury. The FCC has a whole section on inciting violence and what constitutes "fighting words" but they don't have fines. They have left that up to the good judgment of the rational managers of the radio stations. The FCC figures they have their hands full with the obscenity and the indecency rules that they currently spend their time regulating.

Speaking of obsenity, are you actively spending time trying to get obscenity back on the radio so they can have their "free speech?"over that?
Or are you accepting that decision as something the public decided to do to regulate its public airwaves?

Thanks for posting Jim, but this is not one of you better efforts. Keep coming back though, maybe next time you'll "win" the conversation.


Blogger Metro said...

@Jim: You find me instances where left-wing talk show hosts openly called for the deaths of army recruiters, then we'll talk.

In fact you find me a "lefty" radio host blowing the silent dog whistle the way O'Reilly does, or calling for mass roundups of brown folks like Malkin does, or rooting for torturing people (although to be fair, by "tortuting people" I'm not talking about supporting the waterboarding of George Bush, any member of his administration, or right-wing nutjob radio hosts--that's purely support for education).

No, Jim ... the racist, violent, prurient folks who want heads on pikes are all one of two things: Al-Q or right-wing talk show hosts. Strange how much they have in common.

Now maybe you think I'm exaggerating. So here's a link or two to assist you in your research.

Tell you what, you post every link you find where a left-wing host says it would be a good thing for someone to be killed, and I'll post two from the right.

In fact, given the number of eliminationist comments from KSFO's hosts posted here by Spocko, I'd say you had some catching up to do.

The right-wing's alternative-reality "media" types enable, if not outright encourage, murder, mayhem, and torture, and they're happy to do it as long as they get money.

And their influence is real. One need only ask Michael Steele, RNC chairman. Of course you'll have to wait until Limbaugh gets back to him to tell him what his position is.

7:41 AM  

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