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Joe Mariani

Liberal "Rules" for Arguing
June 10, 2003

During the past year, I have spent countless hours trying to have rational debates about the various issues surrounding Iraq with Liberals on various message boards all over the Web. I've wondered over and over why they all seem to follow certain patterns. I've been trying to codify the rules that they seem to use, to increase my ability to identify the tactics they're using. When I identify which rule they're following, they invariably reply with strings of invective, proving that they know exactly what they're doing. Following are the top five Liberal "Rules" for Arguing that I've so far identified, having been repeatedly subjected to all these and more.

#1: Attack Your Opponent
If you feel that your opponent is trying to use facts to your disadvantage, attack him or her personally. Call your opponent names, insult his ancestry, imply that he performs improbable sex acts with animals or his own mother -- or both. If you can arouse his anger, you will have him on familiar ground where he can be beat. Your aim is to make your opponent stop using those pesky facts and figures to win the argument -- everyone knows arguments are supposed to be emotional, not cold and rational, so he's doing it wrong to start with. Names guaranteed to upset an opponent with a conservative bent are Nazi, Dittohead (meaning he's a fan of Rush Limbaugh), and Sheep. Spell "Republican" and "America" with a K in them, to suggest that your opponent is a member of the KKK -- but if they mention that Democratic Senator Robert Byrd was a Klansman, accuse your opponent of making an ad hominem attack! Make sure to claim that your opponent is either a dupe, is brainwashed, or is perhaps working for the government. If at all possible, make personal attacks on President Bush at the same time; that usually forces people to try and defend him.

#2: Switch Your Arguments
If you feel that your are beginning to lose an argument, change it. Switch sides altogether if you have to. For instance, if you are arguing that there are no biological or chemical weapons in Iraq, and your opponent quotes one of the many UN reports that state there definitely were banned weapons there, suddenly change your argument to "of course, there were, the US gave them to Saddam". Never mind the fact that you were just saying they didn't exist -- the purpose is to confuse your opponent and keep him from winning the argument. And in the above instance, if your opponent shows records from the CDC proving that Iraq requested medical samples through the World Health Organisation to combat anthrax and botulism, switch your argument BACK AGAIN and claim that Saddam destroyed the WMD he made form the samples after kicking out the inspectors in 1998, ignoring your earlier arguments that there never was any, and then that the US provided it. Logic is for losers! Consistency is for conservatives! If your opponent gives up the argument, loudly proclaim a victory!

#3: Raise The Bar
When your opponent presents you with proof of anything -- UN records of WMD stockpiles, Amnesty International records of humanitarian crimes, eyewitness accounts of rape, torture, murder, etc -- state that it's not enough to convince you. Tell your opponent that his so- called "proof" doesn't mean anything at all. Insist that anything from only one source doesn't count. Force him or her to go back and search for more proof... and more, and still more. Eventually, your opponent will grow tired of trying to convince you with mere facts and figures, and either give up or get angry -- and then you know you've got him! You can tell everyone that your opponent lost because his or her proof was "laughable".

#4: Attack The Source
When your opponent presents you with those pesky facts, there's only one way to beat him -- attack the source. Refuse to give credence to anything reported by the Weekly Standard, or NewsMax, even if your opponent's facts come from another source as well. Any news outlet even slightly to the right of the New York Times, the LA Times, CBS, ABC, NPR and Time is immediately suspect. Put down FOX news channel and anyone that refers to it -- ignore the fact that they have reported the same stories as every other network. The fact that your opponent uses any of those obviously biased sources automatically proves him wrong, a brainwashed tool, a sheep, etc (see rule #1). If he gives you information from a web site, attack that site as being biased, or right-wing. If he attacks your sources as being left-wing, scoff at that argument -- you know that "left wing" and "correct" are the same thing. Quotes from any liberal source (even a non-journalist's web page or blog) are automatically correct, while any conservative source is OBVIOUSLY distorting the facts to make an ideological point.

#5: Blame America First/Moral Equivalency
It's very important, at all times, to remember that America is the REAL bad guy here, everywhere, and for all time. If your opponent shows facts about Saddam's humanitarian offenses, match them with claims of America's own "atrocities". Although your opponent will claim there is no comparison between the two, continue to claim, for instance, that Saddam's 30- year record of using rape, murder, torture and mutilation on prisoners merely accused of crimes is the EXACT SAME THING as Texas administering the death penalty after due process of law. Argue that because America has not always been absolutely perfect, Americans have no right to judge any other country, no matter what it does, even though the Geneva Convention did not exist until after WWII. Stay focussed on your vision of an evil America ruled by corporate greed, evil America slobbering to kill the innocents in other countries, evil America ruthlessly building an empire, and evil America only pretending to be benevolent and generous to other countries. Never give credence to your opponent's arguments that America rebuilt countries like France, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Grenada, etc... it was obviously a ruse of some kind! Always seek to put the worst possible interpretation on everything America does or ever has done, or any statement by any member of the Administration. Remember that America exists only to dominate the entire world, like a James Bond supervillain. For reference, watch as many Oliver Stone movies as possible. Remember that American soldiers always act exactly like the soldiers in Platoon.

This is how I've watched Liberals argue every day for the last year. The only thing that matters to them is winning, by any means or tactics necessary. Finding out the truth of the matter doesn't seem to matter at all, does it?

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