This essay, combined with the previous post, provides a Master’s Degree in Debating. Seriously. Grasp the concept firmly enough and you can even master debate yourself. (If your mind isn’t in the gutter.)
In the earlier post I claimed that debate is judo, not swordplay. But that’s in theory. In practice it is swordplay, not judo. Confusing? Sorry. But good debate is like two combatants going at it Florentine style.
Currently Obama and the HHS use one weapon, Catholics and 1st Amendment folks another. It’s “women’s health” versus “free exercise of religion”.
(Full disclosure–my personal belief is: freedom is more important than making adults do things for their own good.)
Readers here probably all agree with that axiom. But others don’t. If they did, Obama and Kathleen Sebelius would be on our side , not opposing it. So here’s a “Pro Tip”: never counter your opponent’s argument with yours. It’s a complete waste of time. Instead:
Make your opponent adopt your argument before you use it.
How do you do that? By conceding. Acknowledge the worth of their argument, take it…and beat them to death with it.
“Women’s health is more important that Constitutionally protected rights? Yes, I see! Then given the rise of drug-resistant gonorrea and other STDs…it’s time to stringently regulate sex. Agreed? The health benefits will be millions of times greater than for mandatory Catholic contraception. And sexual freedom isn’t even guaranteed by the Constitution!”
Statists’ lies constantly change, but the statists themselves are perfectly consistent. That’s why after an entire century the “Florentine” shouldn’t even be a considered response. It should be a reflex. What is it in actuality? Non-existent. That is why patriots like Ryan and West are stupid (by Master Debater standards). A non-idiot Congressman would immediately introduce the SSTDN (Stop Sexually Transmitted Diseases Now) Bill and give all the credit to Obama and Sebelius. They’ve claimed health is more important than freedom. Well, then. SSTDN legislation includes a partner registry, mandatory STD testing, compulsory disclosure of illnesses, etc etc.
Sebelius claims nebulous “health” benefits outrank the 1st Amendment. We counter with specific and vastly greater benefits without infringing the Constitution. What is Chatty Kathy’s next move?
Well, she has only one option. (Okay, two, but ad hominem attacks are a given…you misogynistic Puritan.) Her only play is to grab our weapon: “Freedom! Privacy!” You know, all the crap she ignores when it interferes with bullying Catholics.
Back you come: “Kathy, Barack, first you said health is more important than liberty, now you say it isn’t. Which is it?!”
You see why I call debate a Florentine swordfight? (Well, it would be…if Earth had more than one “Master Debater”. Which remains an unfortunate label.) Western statists believe both that Catholicism is subject to federal regulation and that sluts and man-whores must be free to spread disease.
This “health overrules liberty” argument applies to any walk of life, so be careful with satirical suggestions! For example, please don’t sarcastically propose the national Food Corps, complete with Obesity Police. Yes, once it was too outlandish to even be laughable. But today they would call it ‘bipartisan”. Know thy enemy!
There you have it. The Theory and Practice of Debate. Become expert and you won’t even need to bother with your own arguments anymore. Just take your opponent’s and beat him to death with it. Whatever he uses for defense, take that, too. And so on.
Work at it long enough and someday you’ll be master debating all night long…just like me!