Debate Etiquette

The Degradation of Society

Debate Etiquette

It's no secret that the way we treat certain social structures is going to change with the times, and has changed consistently. Religion, scientific advancements, and medicinal enhancements are just the obvious structures that have been bashed and ignored with no justification for our actions. I feel as though the way we treat debate in the 2010s and the coming 20s is truly deplorable and I invite you, the reader, to show me where I'm wrong.

I've all but purged news channels from my life. While it may be important to be informed, I find the bias and propaganda on both sides of the political line comparable to projectile vomit. It's as if the villains and heroes and bravery and cowardice is hitting a brand new peak just so reporters can grab more views for the network, and the height of the absurdity is when the guests are brought on the air to make a point and whoever is assigned to disagree with the point makes relentless effort to drown that point out with their own points. What is on the air, essentially, is noise: a rambling clutter of voices that cannot agree and only ensure that no debate is resolved. When the dust settles, we have more heroes and more villains, but are no richer for the experience.

We see this on TV court where the deadbeat dad can't get a word in because angry momma on welfare checks wants more from child support. The judge pounds the gavel and we still don't get his side until angry momma is held in contempt of court. Hail patriarchy. But why couldn't she be cordial? Why couldn't she allow him to speak? If she is truly confident in her cause, then letting her enemy speak would only help her case. Some of you are answering with the obvious and others are clenching fists of rage that the woman's side wasn't taken seriously enough. Maybe she'd get more support if Jerry Springer was the judge.

In a study, I read that families would sit at dinner and debate current events. This was how they spent their time before watching TV or staring at Facebook became the norm. If all members of the family agreed with each other on topics for debate, the adults would volunteer to play the advocate and the children would defend their cases. There was no time limit. There was a limit on how many points could be made at a time. Nobody talked over each other, ever! The verdict was made when one side conceded.

Intelligence was evident in patience and active listening skills. Points were made. Points were countered. Everyone got their chance to speak and nobody was cut off early. The words "you're wrong" or "that's not true" did not serve as absolute arguments. Challengers accepted a humble approach to allow the defendant to speak without doubt in their points. Defendants hit hard and fast, but knew that if their point was countered, they had to let it go and move on to the next. Civility was at the center of every debate. (I'll write about bad form later.) What I see in every debate online or on TV is that, as soon as there is a disagreement, the mutual respect dies in that instant.

Example: I find that the most horribly debated topic is feminism and gender equality. I watch these debates on YouTube and the inability to hold a debate is the defendant's greatest weakness. Women and men hold a mic against Ben Shapiro or Stephen Crowder and get lost in their own emotions. Crowder has a tendency to talk over his victims, but Shapiro actually allows people to speak and they still can't hold water in their arguments against him. In both cases, the feminists get angry at their apparent ignorance and launch assaults on their characters rather than defend their points. In Crowder's case, he laughs it off, makes a legitimate counter point against the assault, but the argument still ends nowhere. Shapiro gives them enough rope to hang themselves with and makes quick, precise statements to end the argument and civil discussion (and often, the latter is through no fault of his own).

Then I saw a video on YouTube that has since been deleted, of a self-proclaimed lawyer, Suzanne Somerset, debating college kids on social injustices. I admit, they were ready to troll the hell out of her, but the fact remains that if she is supposed to hold up an argument in a court of law, why couldn't she keep her emotions in check and defend her client from a bunch of online bullies? The obvious answer is that she was never going to win because the deck was stacked against her before the Skype call was made. However, I couldn't help but think I could make a better case for Trigglypuff than this lawyer, and even if I didn't win, I would at least win over some sympathizers with a stable head on their shoulders.

My question to the world is, why can't there be masters of debate that remain cordial and civil and still stand for social justice? Why can't the social justice warriors actually behave like warriors? Take a stand, come to terms with the fact that people will disagree with you and that is OK, and know that if you hold your ground while remaining respectful of people you hate, you will win over a bigger crowd. Ben Shapiro's fanbase is growing, even when he outright rejects the alt-right. He's gaining the high ground and, I'm sorry to say, these very serious issues of social injustices are only going to lose more ground when they go up against him. The only hope we have in showing people that the gender inequality issues are being overlooked is when we can hold a case as well as the giants on the other side of the fence, and we are sorely lacking in that skill.

Again, I beg of you, show me I'm wrong.

Christopher Williams
Christopher Williams
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Christopher Williams

I'm a published author and I have a sick sense of humor. Troll me.

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