Sunday 2 January 2011

I don't subscribe to this

I don't follow this flowchart. First of all, it's arrogant, disrespectful of opponents. OK, they may deserve to be disrespected, but that's not the point: they're human.

Second, and most importantly, few such interactions occur in a vacuum. No, I don't mean in Low Earth Orbit, I mean without a social context. For every writer, there may be many readers. For every participant, many sitting by and observing the interchange, undecided on the issue. When one side is the soul of sweet reason, one of the most convincing things they can do is to suffer insults, invective, irrationality and so on, calmly refuting fantasy and unsubstantiated assertions with facts and logic.

Case in point: an interchange on the MichFest Forum. OK, they're not "Christian" fundamentalists, but they are fanatics committed to a dogmatic religious/ideological view. The Raymondite view that Trans and Intersexed women are actually men out to pollute their previous bodily fluids, or something like that.


Bitterness Barbie said...

Oh didn't ya know, Trans Women are the front-line troops of a patriarchal conspiracy to create a race of artificial women to replace biological ones!!!

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Oh well. You can pretend it's holy scripture. Invite the arguer to compare texts.

If you're of the arguing sort, having a "discussion" with the arguing sort.

Hazumu Osaragi said...

Zoe, I see the value in this is that it disabuses the notion that some have that facts and reason alone will make your debating opponent 'see the light' and come around to your viewpoint. Realising that you're not going to win in a 'come to Jesus' rhetorical knockout will save you a lot of wastedefort in a line of argumentation that ultimately won't change your opponents' mind, no matter how logical, reasoned, rational and backed up by facts it is.

This flowchart - nevermind its arrogance - is a reminder to give up on the frontal assault and consider practicing some rhetorical Aikido.

I've taken to not frontally challenging such beliefs, but rather to give potential opponents the chance to say their piece without challenge. Sometimes they just need to say, for instance, that I'm a sick, confused, mentally ill pervert who is going to burn in hell because I dress like a woman and had my penis cut off. I paraphrase it back to them, to let them know I heard what they said, then thank them for saying that and if possible politely disengage.

No amount of facts will at this time change their minds. The chart is right. It's not a debate (with them.) I will not talk to them about it. I will listen only, and be respectful of their current viewpoint. I will not offer my viewpoint unless they press me for it, and there are other witnesses to the exchange who I may, by example, influence positively.

Yes, the chart is written with a double helping of snark. Please, though, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Aerynne said...

Hiya - think i ran into you on a yahoo group yonks ago... :D Anyway, have followed you here from the guardian comments page...

Thing with the michfest lot is, a: if they want to be separate, fine, let them bog off! ;D They sort of remind me of a feminist amish... and b: i've heard feminist lesbian separatist folk rock, and i have no desire to hear it again..! TBH i'd rather go to sonisphere... But yeah, anyway, the only way to win vs fundamentalists of any kind, is not to play...

theo said...


I'm in pretty strong agreement with you.

Hazumu Osaragi, I think the tactic is always dependent upon the goal. If your goal is to change their mind, then you're generally correct. However, I'm not really interested in changing the mind of a fanatic. I'm aware that it's beyond my skills, and more importantly, not my business.

As Zoe discussed above, sometimes the vital necessity of engaging with people is not to convince them, but to ensure that their voice is not the only one. If someone does not have an opinion, the first strong opinion they are exposed to often becomes their default. If we do not engage in these conversations we lose a lot of people to the ranting of fanatics.

Our best bet is to suspend our arrogance, anger, and treat our opponents as human beings, with respect and sincerity. Our words, spoken clearly, without malice, without condescension or insult, produce a really important voice of compassion and reason that the world needs to hear.

Laserlight said...

Hi Zoe
By the way, the chart got the "atheist" and "Christian" labels reversed. /grin

IMHO, if "proving your point" is more important than "caring about the other person", then one might as well skip straight to the "this is not a discussion" box and stay there. And possibly, on a good day, rethink one's priorities.

Zoe Brain said...

Oh it's good when discussing with any fanatic, including fanatic atheists.

I'll repeat a comment I said in another context:

"N.... - to piss them off, or to try to educate them?

Please read 1 Corinthians 13.

That, BTW, is another one to quote to them. That they can have faith enough to move mountains, they can know every verse of the Bible forwards and backwards... but if they don't act out of Kindness, THEY'VE MISSED THE POINT!!

I'm no Christian - but yes, this principle applies to everyone, no matter what religion or lack thereof they adhere to. It's obligatory for everyone.

So by all means, forward away. But only if you can honestly say you're doing it to inform, not just to discomfit them. That they may deserve scorn and even fury is immaterial. This isn't about them, it's about you."

Anonymous said...

That flowchart seems to me like something a Randroid would come up with! "You cheated. The discussion is terminated."


Bad hair days said...

Why do you even bother. I dont think anyone not really interested in the topic will even look at such threads at the Festivalforum or Arooo, Feminazi and so on with their obsessive relation to trans- and intersexual people.

The thing is, a transsexual women was born a women. As they say, you cannot change sex. What they dont see is that its not always obvious. And that an imposed gender won't work. Speaking of wich, noone seams to look at the origins of this distinction (Sex / Gender as not only role but gender identity) made by a psychoanalyst seing women as psychologically challenged humans who where hindered by their body to fully psychologically develop.