Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Muddying The Waters

I've been thinking about this quite a bit.

I interact with everyone. I enjoy interacting with people who don't agree with me...that's how you learn and grow. In the process, I've been exposed to all kinds of different debate styles. Some people's idea of a debate style is not something I appreciate...I once left an online forum because the lead moderator tried to tell me death threats were a legitimate debate style!

One thing I see far too often, and also don't appreciate, is what I call 'muddying the waters'. An example of this would be comparing an abortion performed after a pregnancy goes drastically wrong to forced abortions in China. Or taking something too far, like the classic 'same sex marriage will lead to people wanting to marry their dogs'.

Muddying the water means taking something not truly relevant to the debate at hand and tying it to your opponent's argument in a way that makes them look bad. (Or, more rarely, yourself look good, but this often goes along with people who want to 'win'). By tying these things together, you associate somebody with something that is, if not evil, at least a lot worse than what they're actually saying.

Civilized people should really try to keep the water clean...but then they might have to agree to disagree, and not everyone is willing to do that.