We have many wonderful readers on Axis of Logic from many different countries and walks of life around the globe. As most of you know, we have a comment section, offering readers opportunities to share their point of view beneath each published article.
From time to time some have referred to Axis as "a reader's website" and we heartily agree. Most readers do not comment but some do so with insight and intelligence, contributing thoughts, information and constructive ideas that add to our understanding and that of other visitors. Let's call them "Type A debaters." They can go back and forth, exchanging ideas with us and other readers, sometimes resulting in a change of heart and opinion in the other and, at other times, compromising their original position and learning something from others that enriches them and contributes to everyone's growth. That's pretty good stuff!
Then there are others (let's call them "type B debaters") who just love to argue. They seem to argue only for the sake of arguing, maybe just because they get something out of the process, like one receives when playing a contact sport. In their case, if an article posits that white is white, they will argue the opposite until their face is blue! Often their argument is laced with anger or even outrage as though their life depended on hammering anyone who disagrees right into terra firma! The idea that this type of combat can convince anyone of anything is purely illusory on their part. In fact it has quite the opposite effect - the combatant digs in and only become more convinced of his or her (most often his) beliefs. And the longer they argue, the more vociferous they become and the more deeply they become entrenched in their position without ever really listening to what their debating friend has said! Often, these arguments end up with shouting epithets. But don't get me wrong - there are times when I think an asshole, if he persists, should simply be told he's being an asshole.
Now what good does it do to get tough with someone like this, one might ask. Well, I'll tell you a little story once told to me by an Amish relative which animal lovers like myself should not take literally. It's only one of those tales meant to teach a lesson for us humanoids.
"There was once an Amishman who was riding on his carriage pulled by his mule with another Amishman riding alongside - a new acquaintance. His mule suddenly stopped and after numerous pleas and slaps on the ass with the reins to get him moving, the mule just dug in his heels and wouldn't budge. So the mule's master quietly left his wooden seat, went to the back of the cart, pulled out a 2X4, walked up to the mule and gave him a horrific whack over the head. When the mule got back up on his feet, the master whispered something in his ear, replaced the 2X4 in the cart, got back up on the seat, slapped the reins with a friendly "tch tch" and the mule carried on at a pleasant pace. Whereupon his rider friend cried, "Oh my God! How could you do a cruel thing like that to this poor animal and what did you whisper in his ear for godsake?!" Mule's affectionate owner smiled and said, "Oh you know, it doesn't matter much what you whisper to him. The important thing is that you first have to get his attention."
Type B debaters you see, poor things simply haven't acquired the art of listening. Sometimes they just need a good whack on the head to get their attention.
Moreover, often Type B's argue with greater force even though their opinion is shot through with assumptions and statements that just don't hold water in anybody's pail. Now that reminds me of tongue-in-cheek advice given to a class of us young seminarians who aspired to be men of the cloth, declaring the Truth from the pulpit on each Sunday morning: "On a weak point, pound the pulpit harder."
So we dedicate this Monty Python video to all the Type B's who are kind enough to pay us a visit and take time out of their busy schedules to try pounding us and others into submission with innane arguments. Smiles.
- Les Blough, Editor