There comes a point in time where nothing the person in front of you could say could restore their credibility.
They’re done. Call it a disqualifying event, if you will. You have to just walk away.
Having personal “Disqualifying events” is not something one should seek out or boldly proclaim due to the close – minded exclusivity of the concept. They are what the “bad” people do – deny or ignore based on a singular occurrence.
It isn’t even a good policy, really – as we all know, the plural of anecdote is not data, and one silly comment doesn’t imply a pattern.
Even so, for the sake of sanity, I’m going to insist that in politics, having disqualifying events in one’s rhetoric and within one’s discussions with others is necessary. It’s with a fair amount of thought that I posit that there are certain words, phrases or arguments become immediate indicators that the person you’re arguing with can be safely ignored. They have nothing to teach and the fight itself will be unenlightening. You simply must walk away. The subject must be changed.
Let me be clear that there are certainly levels to this. Someone who opens with “those niggers” is to be ignored and not reasoned with. It’s not hard to quickly spot these folks. When the simple question of “what good movies have you seen lately?” is met with “goddamn Jeeeeeeeews!” it goes without saying that the best rhetorical tack to take is to walk away. Slowly. Walk backwards to you don’t lose sight of this person.
Bad and blatant examples aside, certain people can be instantly ignored when they say something far more opaque. Often enough, we don’t always know it when it occurs. You’ve had a few drinks and you’re feeling pugilistic or you’ve heard the argument before and think “this time… I can win!” A cataloguing of sorts is in order. Certain words or phrases should be red flags, immediately signaling the listener that there’s nothing to be gained. How many crazy uncles have we all argued with where we thought afterwards – “Jebus, if only I’d left off when he started talking about the ‘hoax’ of climate change.” Or “I knew I was done when he brought up the Ayn Rand biography he was reading”.
How do you know when the die is cast and you should just walk away?
It’s the easiest thing in the world to write “everyone should…” or “we should all…” and insert your own prescribed remedy. The second easiest thing to write is a call for the use of clearer, more precise language. I realize that this is both, but just the act of writing down and then adding to this list could save everyone time, energy and heartache.
ALL this being said, below is the beginning of a list of words or phrases that once used in a discussion, can immediately tell the listener that they’re not a serious person, and further attempts to engage will be as much fun as having your pubes plucked by a large Romanian man with strangely oily hands.
Abstinence – typically in a discussion about abortion or teen pregnancy, the person who uses this has memorized more religious tracts than they have had thoughts for themselves. Disqualifying.
Teleprompter – if this word is used in reference to Barack Obama needing a teleprompter to speak, this person is more interested in Rush Limbaugh than discernable reality. Ignore.
Global Warming Hoax – if this is uttered in any way, shape or form, this person has found a really neat website that they really like and think that they’re aware of all internet traditions. Walk away.
People on Welfare – Not only has this person never been on Welfare, but real humans don’t actually talk like this. They heard George Will say it on This Week and he looks smart. Talk to this person about sports.
Politically Correct – This is fine in certain contexts, but mostly this is the same as saying “I’m not a racist, but…” Defriend this person on Facebook. Save yourself the anguish that his or her inevitable Drudge links will bring.
The Democrat Party – Someone who says this has been told that it pisses you off. There is no “there” there aside from them wanting to annoy you. Kill them slowly and painfully – they only want to cause misery. Or if the fuzz is onto you, you could just walk away.
I could just keep going – are there any more that I’m missing? What would a right – wing version of this look like?
Crossposted at Back to My Original Point