Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Here Lies - Art O. Debate

"The art of debate has been covered by the graffiti of spin."

Pardon me for dwelling on liking this line.  I came up with it and really like it.

(there, I'm done).

This thought hit me as a I was discussing (okay Facebook-ing) the recent Arizona Safeway Massacre with a friend.  I respect the person and their opinions dearly.  My friend was linking recent overblown political rhetoric not directly to the tragedy but linking to a climate that allowed the tragedy.  I tried to make a counter argument and the debate went downhill.  (insert the above line here).  In respect to my friend, I know he was short on time and temper for a debate.

Now my friend & I are opposite on many views and this is one of them.  I'm starting to see how G.B. Shaw and GK Chesterton might have related.  A glimpse of ants compared to the giants that they were, but it still gives me some insight into their relationship.

I remember posting a note on facebook regarding my thoughts on embryonic stem cell research.   It drew a few good comments, some empty agreements; and then some purely thoughtless bashing.  Not bashing any of my points, but bashing my faith (there were no faith or Biblical references or arguments) and a politician (no politic arguments were presented).  I made an argument in logic and reason regarding the demerits of the policy.  I truly wanted to hear where I was wrong in my thinking.  If you disagree then make a valid counter point, don't call names.

The Arizona shooter was a nutcase.  Whether a stand alone psycho, a marijuana psychosis, or a loner - a NUTCASE.

I hate political rhetoric.  I think there is a fad of political rhetoric.  I hope it's a fad and fades as all fads should.  Something in this tragedy may draw people back to normal conversation.  A guy can hope.  It seems normal conversation and debate has been overwhelmed with spin, useless stats, and shouting.  Debate would be presenting a logical (reasonable) argument for a policy or view and discussing it against a counter view.  Debate has been covered by sounbites & spin and is suffocating .  The rise of flashy soundbites has dulled us to truly thinking through ideas and consequences. We know underneath there is something worth discussing and figuring out, sometimes passionately.  It is just easier to bury the counterargument in meaningless stats and soundbites than to admit our side might be wrong or a better way may exist. 

Compromise used to mean that half a loaf was better than no bread. Among modern statesmen it really seems to mean that half a loaf is better than a whole loaf.” -GK Chesterton


  1. Sarah Palin must have put you up to this. Don't you see you are the problem? It's people like you who cause hunger, sadness, and bad TV. How DARE you, Dan K?

    OK, I'm done. Nice post. I'm with you, Cap'n.

  2. I think possibly the "art" of debate is more of a sport than a mural. (Don't get me wrong, I'm filled with witticism envy) That is, there is a directly competitive and confrontational aspect to debate that strikes me as more akin to sport than art. (Forgive me: I'm about to insult every artist every where from all times) Art is presently treated as relative - individual - open to interpretation: what the artist meant is nothing to what I can draw from it. Sport is spectacular: a spectacle to be watched and haralded with a glorious victor and sorry loser. In the modern age, debate is a high dollar value spectator sport -- something to be watched over nachos while slobbering drunken explatives at the professional NPR commentators controlling the camera angles and replays while the professional spin-spin doped teams battle it out in astro-turf lined arenas filled with screaming aristocrats waving towels and wagging tongues in a masque of their favorite cliche's.

    The intent of classical debate is to combine efforts to expose truth. The intent of modern debate is to win glory. These are orthogonal purposes.