Mon 1/2/2006 2:45 PM
My Personal Rules of Debate
I am by nature an argumentative cuss. I can’t help it – when I come into a forum I gravitate to whatever bar-fight is going on at the moment and start swinging stools with the others. Maybe it’s a character flaw, I don’t know. I love the give-and-take of vigorous debate; I believe it is the anvil upon which we test the mettle of our ideas.
That means, fellow bloggers, if you post an opinion you will probably see something from me sooner or later. There are obviously plenty of opinions to go around and I look forward to jousting with all of you. Debate is a form of mental exercise, not unlike any sport, and as such I feel it should follow certain rules. These rules apply to me only and they are a promise (of sorts) as to how I will behave when your Blog graciously plays host to my ideas.
1. Seek Consensus. I am probaby not going to change your mind about a major issue, however there may be some sort of common ground we can both find if we try. I like to end on an up note.
2. Attack the Idea Not the Man. Ad Hominem attacks; name-calling, slurs and impugning of motives are a sign you have no argument. So you lose instantly.
3. Concede Points. Not every argument an opponent makes is wrong. If you score a hit on me I will credit you with it. I hope for the same in return.
4. Be Gracious. If I score a point against you I will not crow about it. It is ungentlemanly.
5. Support The Contention With Facts. I have Google on my toolbar and I use it often. You should too.
6. No “Straw Men”. I will debate your arguments as you make them. I will not rephrase them to something silly and easy to knock over. You will never see me writing “…so what you REALLY mean is…”. I will assume what you really meant is what you really said.
7. Think Well of the Opponent. You are arguing for the same reason I am – to test your ideas. I respect that.
8. Recognize the Validity of Dissent. If I post an opinion and invite comment I expect disagreement as well as agreement. It’s ok for you to disagree with me – it’s also more fun.
9. Be Witty and Have a Good Time. A good brawl is a joyous affair. Enjoy it and have a beer afterwards! I’m buyin’!
10. There Is No Number 10. Do you have one? Post it in the comments section, I would love to see it!