Mar 05 2014

Debating tips from Ben Shapiro

I was reading these debating suggestions from a particularly stupid wingnut with the idea that I’d just do the opposite…until it sunk in that they’re so contradictory that I can’t even do that.

So to recap, the only way conservatives can win debates is to not look angry, while publicly shaming their opponent, punching first, and calling their opponents liars and haters. And remember: all of this is equivalent to futilely pinning some kind of gelatinous dessert to a wall.

I think it’s also got like three first steps, which means I’m going to have to grow another leg.


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  1. 1

    They obviously don’t plan to win debates by expressing intelligent thoughts in a coherent manner. But we knew that.

  2. 2

    I always thought that shaming your opponed while looking detached would make you look psychopathic instead of angry. Which is far, far worse.

  3. 3

    It really is a telling look into the psychology of right-wing ideologue. A lot of it is projection!

    That person already disagrees with you, and they’re not going to be convinced by your words of wisdom and your sparkling rhetorical flourishes. The goal will be to destroy the leftist in as public a way as is humanly possible.

    Lesson one: People who disagree with you will never change their mind.
    Lesson two: People who disagree with you need to shamed publicly.

    His advice is simple: “You have to take the punch, you have to brush it off. You have to be willing to take the punch.”

    Lesson three: You must be indifferent towards being wrong.

    “Frame Your Opponent.” Your leftist opponent will, according to Shapiro, call you a racist and a sexist, so in response call them a “liar and a hater.”

    Lesson four: Personal attacks are necessary in order to Win.

    “Force Leftists to Answer Questions. This is really just a corollary of Rule #4.” According to Shapiro, forcing the left to answer questions is like “trying to pin pudding to the wall – messy and near-impossible.”

    Lesson five: Gish Galloping for me but not for thee.

    You Don’t Have To Defend People on Your Side.” Here, Shapiro comes out in defense of not always defending your allies when you don’t agree with them on everything, or when they get something wrong.

    Lesson six: Throw your teammates and leaders under the bus. There can only be one Winner.

    “If You Don’t Know Something, Admit It.”

    Lesson seven: lolwut?

    “Let The Other Side Have Meaningless Victories.” This “parlor trick” involves making it look like you’re giving the other side space, while forcing them to define their terms.

    Lesson eight: Have a very broad definition of the term of “meaningless” and a very flexible definition of the term “victory”.

    “Body Language Matters.”…”Whomever looks angriest in debate loses. Immediately.”

    Lesson nine: Appearances matter.

    Lesson ten: Republicans are clueless manipulative assholes utterly lacking in self-awareness or concern for facts, logic, or truth.

  4. 4

    “Whomever looks angriest in debate loses. Immediately.”

    Rule No. Eleventy: “Whom” is, like, an educated word for “who”. Right?

  5. 5

    Wait, surely (mis)using “whom” in order to look edumacated when it’s obviously not part of his native variety of english is Elitist! He’s an Elitist! ELITIST! BURN THE ELITIST!

  6. 6

    Oh I was wrong, Lesson Seven is “Just say you don’t know when you are too lazy to bother arguing about a certain sub-issue and you want to make your opponent look Mean for continuing to talk about it”.

  7. 7

    Rule whatever is next: Don’t be afraid to call your opponent the next Hitler. Do this several times during your debate and the audience will start looking for the mustache.

  8. 8
    Bronze Dog

    In defense of anger, sometimes it manages to shock apathetic people into paying attention. Sometimes anger shows that someone is taking a high stakes issue seriously, especially if his opponent calmly invokes psychological defense mechanisms to avoid dealing with it. The efficacy of expressing anger varies with the audience and circumstances.

    Of course, who has the evidence and logic on their side should matter more.

  9. 9
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    And remember: all of this is equivalent to futilely pinning some kind of gelatinous dessert to a wall.

    You absolutely can nail Jello to a wall. You just need a LOT of nails. >.>

  10. 10
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    In defense of anger, sometimes it manages to shock apathetic people into paying attention. Sometimes anger shows that someone is taking a high stakes issue seriously, especially if his opponent calmly invokes psychological defense mechanisms to avoid dealing with it.

    Of course. Why do you think our society is so pathologically obsessed with suppressing it?

  11. 11
    Ifandonlyif Ornot

    He is, after, a mastur(de)bator, isn’t he?

  12. 12
    Ifandonlyif Ornot

    “after all” — scheisse!

  13. 13
    Rich Woods


    Yeah, he’s that as well.

  14. 14
    Chris J

    Anger is like any other emotion; it can be persuasive only when you can get your audience to share that emotion with you (or at least get them to sympathize with that emotion).

  15. 15


    Freeze the jello, drill a hole, nail to wall.

  16. 16

    Wasn’t the lawyerly advice:

    1. If the facts are against you argue the law.
    2. If the law is against you argue the facts.
    3. If the facts and the law are against you pound the table and yell like hell.

    Although for a lot of conservatives it seems very often the law, facts, and REALITY are against them. So the whole debating strategy is option 3.

    Also wouldn’t those of us who argue with creationists and Christians be far more experienced in how to nail jello to a wall.

  17. 17

    Speaking of nailing jello to walls:

    How to Nail Jell-O to a Wall

    Looks like way more fun than debating someone whose debate tips don’t include “understand topic” and “express it clearly”.

  18. 18

    Mark Twain:

    ‘Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.’

    Anon Ibid and Op Cit:

    Never wrassle with a hog. You get dirty, and the hog enjoys it

  19. 19

    I was tempted to dredge up the old expression that Ben Shapiro plans to “bring a knife to a gun fight,” but upon further consideration I think he’s just a smug little twerp who has no idea what he’s talking about. He thrives in the demeritocracy of the right-wing media.

  20. 20
    Hershele Ostropoler

    Facts are irrelevant, if not underhanded. Winning The Debate is more important than being accurate and telling your opponent their facts are wrong is just another tool in the rhetorical toolbox, which is why, when the debate moderator (Crowley? I don’t feel like looking it up) called out Romney for a factual error, this was decried as a “pro-Obama bias.”

  21. 21
    David Marjanović
    “Whomever looks angriest in debate loses. Immediately.”

    Who loses whomever? Inquiring minds want to know!!!

    Seriously: nobody seems to use whom in actual conversation anymore, as few people know how to use it as what to do with thou – declare it ungoodthinkful already. It’s dead, Jim.

    It’s a desperately insecure clutching after a form that people no longer know where to use or how to control. Whom is like some strange object — a Krummhorn, a unicycle, a wax cylinder recorder — found in grandpa’s attic: people don’t want to throw it out, but neither do they know what to do with it. So they keep it around, sticking an m on the end of who every now and then when it seems like an important occasion. Columbus Day, for example, or when trying to impress a grammarian or a maitre d’hotel (whom will be our waiter tonight?).

    Kiss whom goodbye. It is rarely heard in conversation now, and just about never in clause-initial position. This word is nearly dead. It is close to being no more. It has all but ceased to be. If it wasn’t [spoiler alert] from time to time it would be pushing up the daisies. This is almost an ex-word.”

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