The piece could also be entitled “The Five Stages Of Liberal Argumentation”.
I’ve observed for a long time now that liberals, especially in liberal hotbeds like the Twin Cities, are really, really bad debaters. My thesis is that liberals in liberal hotbeds never really need to learn how to debate; they are indoctrinated in a school system that teaches “progressive” values as the baseline, they are
educated schooled in a university system that actively squelches dissent, and they are politically spawned in a party and movement whose entire internal message is coordinated top-down groupthink. They never have to learn to think of conservative arguments as anything but something lesser people do.
And let’s be honest; there are conservatives out there who live down to that stereotype.
But when they run into an argument that beats them on the facts, the rules and the logic – and that is very, very often, especially in the battle between the left and rights’ media and alt-media – I’ve observed a bit of a pattern:
Stage One: Unearned Smugness. Most liberals are good for about one round of “facts” in a given argument. These, they deliver as if they were carved on stone tablets by a lightning bolt from on high, whether they came from empirical research (rare) or chanting points straight from the leftymedia chain of command (from “Media Matters” all the way down to “Minnesota Progressive Project”).
This round of facts, or factoids, generally falls after one round of actual enquiry. The collapse of the round of facts, or “facts”, leads to:
Stage Two: Logical Fallacy. When confronted with the collapse of their first and only round of factoids and chanting points, most liberal bloggers and activists will fall back on the lessons they learned from the oracle from which most of them learned all they will ever know about debate – Stephen Colbert. Thrown off-balance by a substantive counterattack, they’ll fall back one of several common logical fallacies to try to negate an argument they can’t attack. These include:
- The Ad-Hominem: ”Oh, right – you got that from “Republicanmussen”!”
- The Tu Quoque: ”But ten years ago, you supported raising taxes! You flip-flopped! I shall disregard your argument!”
- The Appeal to Ridicule: “I had an argument like that – until my father got a job!”
- The Straw Man: “You want to reform Medicaid? Why do you want every single poor person to die?“
- The Appeal to Authority: “Your source went to a Tier 3 Law School. My source went to a Tier 1 school. His data is therefore better!”
- The “Red Herring”: ”You say you oppose building a light rail train. But you favored building an aircraft carrier! You’re a hypocrite!”
Stage 3: The Tonkin Gulf Gambit: Once their facts are disposed of and their logical fallacies are called out, the liberal will have to dig deeper into the bag of tricks. The Tonkin Gulf Gambit is named after LBJ’s signature foreign policy accomplishment – the faking of an attack by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on an American destroyer. LBJ used the fake attack to justify a huge ramping up of the Vietnam War.
Liberals, their “facts” shredded and their fallacies mocked, will frequently gin up a simiilar fake attack, to cover their own inability to carry on a factual arrument, as in the scenario below:
LANA LIBRELL: ”Assault weapons cause crime waves!”
KEVIN KONSERVATIVSKI: “Crime rates are actually lower in states that don’t ban assault weapons, and they’re going down”.
PETE PROGRESSIVE: “Going down? That was sexist! You apologize to Lana! I don’t argue with sexist pigs that objectify women!”
This is also called “Getting The Victorian Vapours”.
Stage 4: Killing The Messenger: Unable to debate, BS or sidetrack you, the liberal’s next tactic will be to destroy you.
KEVIN KONSERVATIVSKI: “Keeping the speed limit at 55 makes no economic sense”.
YOLANDA YUTOPIAN: “Of course you’d say that. You have three speeding tickets in the past 15 years. What ELSE will your records show?”
Stage 5: Declaring Victory And Calling The Debate Over: Like the President did the other day:
There never was an argument, Winston. The facts, logic and rules always favored us. There was never a debate. There was never a debate.
What to do about this?
Any psychologists in the house?