I’ve been thinking about arguments lately. Mostly I’ve been thinking about how horribly, tremendously, comically bad we are at arguing. Americans, I mean. We do so many things so well. The moon? Yeah, let’s go there. Coca Cola? Take that, communists! Adirondack chairs? Those are awesome. Then we are so magnificently, grandly, explosively bad at other things. Overstuffed camouflage furniture comes to mind. Why did that need to happen? My brother-in-law lives in The Hague. I can just about promise none of his neighbors have a camouflage recliner that holds beer, four remote controls, and a deep freeze. Although that’s probably because it’s really hard to ride a bike from Trendhopper back home with a giant microfiber marshmallow strapped to your back fender.
I did a really stupid thing last night. I read comments on a piece that my hometown news station ran about a candidate for county clerk pulling out of the race because he doesn’t want to give marriage licences to the LGBT community. One comment caught my eye because it started, “Is it just me, or…” True fact: anytime a sentence starts with that line, yes. It’s just you. I’m not excluding myself. “Is it just me, or does my kitchen look spotless?” Yup. Just me. Me and my delusions. We’re a happy family.
One of my favorite chestnuts has always been the slippery slope fallacy. It’s like that book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. If you give a mouse a cookie, he will burn down your house, rape your dog, and steal your identity. Or something like that. I haven’t read the book in a long time. The “No REAL Christian” argument is just getting pathetic. No REAL Christian could believe that gay folks marrying each other, having equal rights, raising families, paying taxes, getting life insurance, and generally behaving like normal people could be what God wants. That then begs the question don’t we know God says being gay is wrong because God said so in the Bible and that’s the word of God? BUT if I say something like, oh, you get to believe whatever you want, but we’re talking about policy not religion, I am a sinner. Ergo, forthwith, and heretofore, I cannot POSSIBLY have a valid argument because I don’t go to church regularly/take the Lord’s name in vain/occasionally speed/insert other infraction here. AND FURTHER, you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny. Ad hominem…aaaand…scene.
Irrational arguments are a thing. We all make them. But we need to keep them among friends, not when deciding policy. There’s a scene in the classic movie Legally Blonde where Holland Taylor discusses Aristotle’s maxim, “The law is reason, free from passion.” Y’all it’s hard not to get all riled up about something you believe in passionately. You should hear Himself talk about his favorite hat. I can give you 492 reason pants are evil. And while I want to tell people who rally against GMOs that they are poopy heads, I go with, “First, tell me what you mean by GMO,” because insulin is a GMO and I don’t think you want to take away a diabetic’s medicine. Or maybe you do. In which case you ARE a poopy head.
We are starting to confuse shutting down an argument with winning one. Well, that’s just my opinion. I would like that phrase stricken from our collective discourse. You didn’t make a point by saying it’s your opinion. And opinions are different than facts.
*Blue is a color. That is fact.
*Blue is the best color. That is opinion.
*Blue sports drinks are a conspiracy between Monsanto and Proctor and Gamble to get us addicted to trimonosodiumglyotholateiseum which then makes our babies autistic and is responsible for the popularity of the Kardashians. That right there is some made-up bullshit. And while it’s nice to have something to blame for the Kardashians, that’s not it. And following that up with WELL, THAT’S MY OPINION does not make it any less bullshitty.
*Navy pumps for women are declining in popularity. Global temperatures are rising. The decline in navy footwear is causing global warming. THAT’S MY OPINION. ARE YOU SAYING MY OPINION IS WRONG?? I GET TO HAVE MY OWN OPINIONS. YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME.
I also am really over the whole this <insert product here> is full of chemicals! It will kill you! You need something natural! You know what’s natural? Sharks, bears, poison ivy, puffer fish, nightshade, and poke berries. They can all kill you. Just because something was grown out of dirt doesn’t make it safe anymore than creating something in a lab makes it dangerous.
Now, you must excuse me. I’m feeling a little tired so I’m going to ingest some coffea liberica mixed with dihyrdogen monoxide and possibly a prunus persica. I have to be careful because the pit of the prunus persica contains cyanide. In fact, I better eat two before they get banned.