f The Wittenberg Door: Stay Out of My Uterus! - How Not to Argue - Part 1

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Stay Out of My Uterus! - How Not to Argue - Part 1


In an editorial on the student-run Metropolitan State College of Denver Met Online, Justice for All, stay out of my uterus, Zoe Williams provides us a great example of how not to argue.

Before we get to Zoe's comments, though, let’s consider a few helpful hints for engaging a person’s ideas in the market place:

1. Don’t name call

2. Don’t make charges for which you could likewise be charged

3. Back up your claims with evidence and sound reasoning

4. Be consistent and consider the implications of your view

Now, since we have some rules to play by, let’s take a look at how Zoe comported herself and see what we can learn:

1. Don’t name call

Zoe doesn’t like pro-lifers, and she lets us know it by calling them “cultish” (twice), “right wing whack-jobs,” and “magalomanical religious fundamentalist privileged males.” She also implied that they are misogynistic.

Now, to be honest with you, I don’t typically like “pro-deathers” either. But, because I’m a Christian, I’m called to be “salt and light” (Matt. 5:13), and name calling or misrepresenting someone’s views doesn’t fit the bill; besides, it’s bad tactics. People of good will stop listening to you if you start acting like a school-yard bully. We must seek to persuade, not offend. (Remember, the gospel is offensive enough; we mustn’t add our own offensiveness to it.)

2. Don’t make charges for which you could be likewise charged

Zoe tells us that the presence of the pro-life group that visited her campus resulted in “complete and utter disrespect.”

It sounds as if Zoe thinks it wrong to be disrespectful. If she truly believes that people ought to be treated with respect, why does she name call? Is that respectful? Likewise, is it respectful to misrepresent your opponent's views?

Remember: Double standards hurt your creditability, and leave you open to the charge of hypocrisy. If your opponent catches you in a double standard, be gracious and honest, admit your fault, thank him for pointing it out, and amend your argument (or ditch it if it’s a bad one).

Stay Tuned!

In my next post on this topic, will finish up with the following:

3. Back up your claims with evidence and sound reasoning

4. Be consistent and consider the implications of your view

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