August 25, 2016
I was pondering making comment on the SF kurfuffle du jour, but many obvious predictable people are making the obvious predictable points, all biases are being confirmed, and if anyone’s going to change their minds on the Internet it will only be upon facial contact with the hard cold unyielding surface of reality, and not by reading my hot take on the matter. So instead of launching into a tirade at what a sorry state it is that things have come to this, I’ve decided to mock how passionate people insist on making fools of themselves complaining about things online. Facebook users take note.
Not knowing what the hell you’re talking about: When you launch into a screed about anything, getting basic facts wrong (such as what is or is not illegal, what is or is not part of a code of conduct) will make you come across as a moron. An order of magnitude worse is saying “I don’t know [X] but I think [Y].” At that point you’re just making crap up, and not in a good way.
Putting the ad hominem before the horse: If there is a debate that person [Z]’s actions are just, right, advisable, problematic or a war crime, starting said argument by stating person [Z] is a known dumpster-fire douchbag coprophagic kitten eater is not doing you any favors. This statement insures that you will only be taken seriously by people who a) know who the hell [Z] is, and b) agree with your assessment. This is a smaller number of people than you imagine, leaving the vast majority of the population to view you as an unreliable nitwit with more axe to grind than argument to make.
The Amazing Kreskin: A combination of the prior two, this is where by the power of ultimate insight you divine the true motives of [Z]. “We know that [Z] is an evil person because they obviously did [Y] because of [X].” This basically translates to “We know that [Z] is an evil person because they obviously did [Y] because of their desire to do evil.” If you state that [Z] “wants” to do something problematic without a direct indication of [Z] expressing that particular desire, you’re at best inferring something that you have no direct evidence for. At worst, it makes it appear that you enjoy libeling people to support your own biases.
Goal-post moving: One great way to broadcast the fact you have a weak argument, few facts, and an inability to let go of a pre-conceived outcome is the following— “Well I heard that [Z] did [X], isn’t that awful?” “Actually [X] never happened, we have a recording, ten eye witnesses, sworn testimony and a major newspaper. . .” “But what about [Y]?”
But they said: If your only argument about [Z] is that [Y] said this or that about them, why are you even in the debate? Just shut up and let [Y] make their own arguments. They can certainly do better than you, since you can’t even come up with any of your own.
Confusing means and ends: “I support the children by pounding kitten skulls into the pavement.” “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” “Why do you hate the children?” “Crushing kitten skulls doesn’t help. . .” “Your critique is an attack meant to keep me from helping children.” “Are you even listening?” “Unleash the kitten stompers on the child hater!”