How To Debate In 2012


It’s 2012, you all. An election year. A year in which we will “take on the issues,” “get back to real American values,” and “make choices for our children and our children’s children!” Apparently, when elections come around we all get really smart and principled and become thoughtful guardians of the future. But if you were to listen to people converse about the issues, you certainly wouldn’t get that impression. You’d get the impression that a bunch of cranked out baboons had gotten loose and were attempting to write public policy.

We, as a society, have completely forgotten how to debate. The term “civil discourse” shouldn’t even be in our vocabulary. It’s not a thing that people do. It falls in the category of powdered wigs or leeches — things that used to be part of every day life, but now seem archaic, strange and otherworldly.

But, hey, it’s fine. Let’s not pretend to be something we’re not. If we’re gonna do this, let’s DO this, right? Embrace who we are! Talking is for dummies!

1. Name-calling is your first priority.

If someone disagrees with you, come out swinging. Don’t waste any time, and don’t take any names off the table. Keep your options open. Terms like jerk, asshole, douche bag, and bitch should roll off your tongue like slobber out of a dog’s mouth. Or slut. Slut is a good one. Don’t edit. Just spew. If you can add in something like racist, communist, sexist, fundamentalist or, really, nearly any -ist, you get extra points. Combining a truly un-nice name with an -ist classification is gold, you racist whore. See? See how effective that is?

2. Nuance is the enemy.

We know that life is complicated. We know that. We all live complicated lives full of grays, with so few blacks or whites. But you cannot recognize this fact. Like, ever. Never, ever, ever. So, when you present your argument, just find the most outrageous, damning, horrific point (or amazing, too-good-to-be-true point), stamp that thing on a flag and wave it until your arm falls off. Don’t worry about data, or objective studies or thoughts from experts. Besides, how can you fit all that information on a JPG to share on the interwebs?


A lot of our word bludgeon sessions — er, debates — happen on Facebook or blogs or other online forums. The problem with this is that when everyone’s opinion is reduced to the same black characters on a white background, everyone’s voice has the same volume. Well, you’ve gotta fix that, and fast. SO TYPE IN CAPS! USE MANY, MANY, EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!! If you can BOLD your WORDS it’s EVEN! BETTER! BETTERRR!!!!!

4. Question your opponent’s character.

We’ve already called people names and accused them of being racists. That’s good. That’s a start. But what we really need to do is erase any shred of dignity there might be assigned to their person. We need to hold court on their humanity. A good place to start, for us here in the states, is to question their loyalty to their country. Make sure everyone knows that the only way to be a Real American is to think how you think.

Again, reality will try to sneak in here and tell you that your neighbors, family and co-workers probably also enjoy living in this fine country, but squash that thought like a cockroach! I mean, if people don’t agree with you on how to handle gigantic, complicated, economic and political issues, maybe they were never true Americans/ Christians/ Muslims/ Conservatives/ Librals/ Humans to begin with! Extra credit is earned on this point if you find some commonality between the person who disagrees with you and say… Hitler. Or a serial killer. Or a rapist. Don’t be shy… find someone terrible, and find a way to equate your mailman, or barber, or whomever you are arguing with, to that terrible person. You can do it. Don’t be a baby.

5. Don’t be afraid to throw a punch.

Really, Melanie? Violence?

Sure! Why not? I mean, let’s be real. Civility flew out the window a LONG time ago. With all the name-calling, fact twisting, CAPS TYPING and integrity shredding, NOT hitting someone is almost a charade, right? I mean, come on, what are you, better than fighting? You’re above all that now? Let’s just call a pig a pig (or a ugly, selfish, asshole pig) and get down to brass tacks.

In fact, maybe we don’t even need the first four rules. Maybe our policy changes and political offices should be determined by a good ol’ fistfight. Or maybe actual, literal mudslinging. Whoever slings enough mud to knock their opponents unconscious becomes president. This may be the horizon of our future, people. This may be our bright, swollen future.

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