Thursday, September 20, 2007

Doggerel #123: "You Argue as Loudly as a Fundamentalist!"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless. This particular entry is currently interrupting the original schedule, brought on by a troll elsewhere.

The point should be obvious to my regulars, but it seems to escape so many woos, fundies, and squishy pseudomoderates: Arguing with passion is not equivalent to advocating or performing violence. It is possible to be very opinionated without wanting to use violence to force anyone to agree with you.

Just because an author slashes at the pages with his pen doesn't mean he's bringing a sword anywhere. Just because I press my keyboard a little harder or start using more bold tags doesn't mean I'm advocating violence, much less performing violence. It is entirely possible for someone to be passionate, loud, and persistent without entertaining any thoughts of violence.

Unlike a lot of fundies, my friends and I know very well the difference between a metaphorical debate table and a literal gladiator arena. My chosen weapons are text sent over the internet, my votes, the occasional cartoon or video, and, hopefully soon, letters sent to my region's elected officials. About the only violence I can really do with those weapons is give a senator a paper cut.

This is the inverse of the fallacy of 'argument by volume' a lot of trolls are fond of employing: Just because they're loud doesn't mean that they're right. Just because I'm loud doesn't mean I'm wrong. Judge my arguments' merits by their merits, not their implied volume. If I'm not advocating something, don't use my apparent decibel level to imply that I am.

1 comment:

Theo said...

A related question, then.

What, do you think, is the likely effect of a passionate argument on the perceived merits of the point you're trying to make?

In other words, even though your argument isn't necessarily wrong just because you're arguing passionately, many others' are. Since most people recognise this, their immediate initial response to a passionate argument might be one of skepticism.

Of course you can still convince them otherwise, but why make it any harder on yourself?

Maybe it's simply a question of personal style...