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Monday, February 21, 2005

Fools Rush In

This has been out for a couple weeks, but it's still well worth checking out -- Newsweek's Baghdad bureau chief Rod Nordland takes questions about the still-new Iraq elections, and Iraq policy in general. Nordland's answers are pretty solid and non-partisan; what's refreshing is the smackdown he brings to uninformed rhetorical bomb-throwers, both left and right. The great thing is that it's done in the spirit of objectivity, which is what good commentary should always have.

Cal Lanier at Football Fans For Truth gives the play-by-play on some of Nordland's more cranky and caustic answers. Good stuff, and a sobering testament to the lack of informed discourse these days. People seem more concerned with civil discourse, but to hell with that. Informed trumps civil every day of the week, especially in serious times like now. Being civil to an uninformed fool does no one any favors, especially the fool.

8 comments:

vonKreedon said...

I disagree with your generalization that, Being civil to an uninformed fool does no one any favors, especially the fool. There are times, and there are a couple in the transcript, where the uninformed is apparently agressively uninformed instead of merely mistaken and one can be forgiven at that point for, as Nordland says at the end, I have tried to answer them in the spirit they seem to have been offered. But still, assuming that the uninformed are fools underserving of civil response, even if agressive in their certainty, isn't going to do anything to make the respondent more informed, only slam closed the doors of discourse.

That being said, Norland does a decent job of distiguishing between the uninformed, How could anybody but a USA puppet be elected? We are killing anyone who doesn't agree with us., and the merely ideological, Divide and rule is what the simpleton Americans use to control other weaker nations. What a pathetic, bullying, ruthless, cowardly lot you are!

Cal Lanier said...

vK! How the hell are you?

Still insisting on politeness where it isn't warranted, I see.

Heywood J. said...

vK:

But still, assuming that the uninformed are fools underserving of civil response, even if agressive in their certainty, isn't going to do anything to make the respondent more informed, only slam closed the doors of discourse.I disagree. When your dog shits on the rug, do you smack his nose, or give him a cookie? If someone is knowingly ignorant, and asks a dumb question in the spirit of wanting to find out more information, that's one thing.

The people Nordland smacked down had it coming to them -- they came in with an attitude, an agenda, and little else. The people that wanted to ask a question because they genuinely wanted an answer, got an answer.

Obviously I don't have a problem with aggressive certitude, but at least I make sure to use links and quotes and evidence to back it up. I think that when someone is aggressively ignorant, the only way they'll really listen is when you tell them so. That's what we do with Bush and his faith-based minions, right?

LastStand said...

Civility will not cure a fool. Then again, yelling at em rarely works either.

vonKreedon said...

People are not puppies and so you cannot treat a person as you would a puppy and expect the same results. Since we are using such analogies let me ask you what discussion technique is likely to bring a better understanding with your child when the child says something agressively uninformed:
1 - You yell at the child and inform the child of his/her stupidity.
2 - You explore why your child thinks such stupid things, acknowledge what the child has right and explain what the child has wrong.

Or perhaps a co-worker is being agressively stupid about a project, is the best strategy for obtaining your goal to abuse the co-worker? I simply don't get why so many seem to think that strategies of abuse will somehow work better in cyberspace than they do in face-to-face.

For example:

Cal! Fuck you, you self-righteously ignorant slut, if you had ever exhibited any insight on human interaction to you might have some standing to speak on when politeness is warrented.

Boy, I bet Cal would really want to explore the issue of civility in cyberspace with me after that bit, eh?

Craig Heath said...

I'm with vK on this one. As I've written elsewhere, invective and derision against debate opponents are only welcomed by your own side - we enjoy seeing someone get "told off". Such approaches do not serve to change anyone's mind - I would say it makes them more entrenched. I know I am less likely to listen to your side if you are calling me an idiot.

And we really need to change minds - desperately. If we continue to play to our own constituencies, enjoying the fight but making no progress, we will "amuse ourselves to death". Like vK, I am "insisting on politeness" in all cases, and though I am not fully capable of maintaining such at all times, I try. It is never truly "unwarranted". We lose half the battle as soon as we hate our opponent. Any martial artist will tell us that when we lose our temper, the enemy has won.

"Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate - and quickly." - Lazarus Long

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