....LMB: "Ground Rules"....

October 16, 2002

It might surprise some of you to find that I rarely argue with people about politics.

I feel that if you get to the point of "arguing" with someone, both parties are probably so attached to their points of view that no one is going to convince anyone of anything. If your "argument" is really more of a debate or discussion, that's fine, either of you might learn something. But if you're just yelling at each other while not budging an inch, then you're really both wasting your time.

Which is why I just state my opinion, and leave it at that.

One key aspect of "arguing" about an issue is that each side will find their most compelling train of thought or piece of evidence that supports their position, and insist that this one portion of the debate is the most (or only) crucial factor. And of course, each side will seek to minimize or ignore their oppoenents' strongest case.

Example: abortion arguments. Pro-choice people say "women should have control over their own bodies," but ignore their opponents "abortion is murder" arguments. And vice-versa. Which of course doesn't really lead to any increased understanding for anyone. Many of America's long-standing political arguments continue unabated because they have a lot of complicated, messy, grey areas. If they didn't, they would've been resolved already.

Lately I've been seeing a similar trend of highlight/ignore in agruments (especially among bloggers) about the war on Iraq. So I'm setting up some rules. If you argue about the war without following these rules, I'm not going to bother reading it.

If you are arguing in favor of the war- it's fine for you to go on and on about Saddam Hussein's atrocities and how the world would be a better place without him. But you must then justify the massive loss of innocent Iraqi life that is bound to come from an US invasion. And, for extra bonus points, explain why the US should invade Iraq for the good of the Iraqi people when those same people seem to oppose a US invasion (extras special bonus points if you find evidence that the Iraqi people actually do support an invasion).

If you are arguing against the war- go ahead and talk about the probable casualties that will come with the war, but make sure to explain how the Iraqi people living under a tyranny is a good thing (or is better than the U.S.-instituted government that will come later).

Of course, alternate and more complex arguments are available, but these are the two most common and most irritating that I have seen.

And anyone--ANYONE--who says something like "it is a sad fact that people die in war" is off the team.

Posted by Jake at 11:33 PM
Comments

Against the war - How about this argument: We as a nation have no business attacking another nation unprevoked and then turning it into the 51st state. It is not what I believe in, and is not the reason I served in the military, pay taxes, and proudly call myself an American. If we invade Iraq without the UN, the UN will no longer be relevent and we will have to shoulder the responsibility of maintaining order throughout the world. Eventually some country, or the rest of the world, will develop a weapon that is greater than ours and we will fall. It has happened to every other empire that has declared itself supreme ruler.

Posted by: Patrick Kimmitt at October 17, 2002 07:24 AM

I suggest that we put our money where our mouth is. If the gubment is so sure that Iraqis are oppressed under a tyrannical regime, and they desparately want to be liberated, how about the following course of action:

Instead of bombing the bejeesus out of these people, why don't we drop tons of guns and ammo and everywhere. Then, if the people want to rebel, cool. If they don't, big deal. Guns won't make any difference should we decide later to wage "War: American-Style" on them.

Besides, we have a long and glorious history of giving guns to rebels without thinking about the long-term effects.

Posted by: jeremy at October 18, 2002 01:40 PM

You both get gold stars.

Posted by: Jake at October 18, 2002 04:33 PM

"make sure to explain how the Iraqi people living under a tyranny is a good thing"

Why does it have to be a good thing in order for anti-war arguments to make sense? It's a very bad thing; other bad things in the world today include the military junta in Burma, the economic collapse of Argentina and the worsening AIDS epidemic in sub-saharan Africa. What do all of these things have in common? They are NOT the responsibility of the USA alone. If there exists a basic human responsibility to deal with such things (and I'd go along with that idea), then it is a collective responsibility and should be dealt with by consensus (or at least the UN).

Posted by: Sennoma at October 22, 2002 03:04 AM

If someone uses the "It's a sad fact that people die in war" argument, just respond as a matter-of-factly as you can, "It's a sad fact that people died in 9/11." For some reason, these are two different things for many Americans.

Posted by: Eric at October 22, 2002 12:59 PM

Sennoma: your answer deals with the issue I brought up. I guess my point was that most anti-war critiques I've heard about Iraq ignore the single, solitary good point I've heard the pro-war people make.

Eric: my general response is "it's a sad fact that people die in murder or get raped in rapes." Definition is not justification.

Posted by: Jake at October 22, 2002 09:53 PM

Against the war- There are much more worse places to attack. North Korea has shown nothing but hostility towards the united states (tailing a US spy plane in international waters and targeting it). North Korea has chemical and biological weapons... its a fact... we KNOW it. However, we only think that Saddam posses these weapons. There is absolutely no proof that he does. Weighing North Korea with Iraq as far as a humanitarian country: Sure... Iraq does some pretty scarry stuff. But did you know that north Korea has concentration camps. These camps hold some 200,000 people accused of opposing the Kim Regime. The notorious camp 22, North Koreas version of Aushwitz is one of the worst. 20 - 25% of the prisoners there are killed each year. They are subjected to tests using chemical and biological agents. By far north korea outweighs iraq from a military standpoint as well as human treatment. So this raises the question of why are we going for iraq then? Well all im going to say is that iraq produces much of the worlds oil supply, while north korea has no valuable resources.

Someone try and argue agaisnt me
(i have to debate the war with iraq in my debate class)

Posted by: Blake at March 17, 2003 06:20 PM
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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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