Note: old post, but still relevant
It seems as though it is only when I am at my busiest that people start pestering me with the silliest things, this time it was a friend of a friend on facebook that was trying to make the losing argument that FOX News is an excellent news source with well researched stories.
It all started with my friend quoting an article from The Blaze, when I told him how terribly he had hurt my feelings that he had stooped so low. He told me that he still loved me despite us being political worlds apart, to which I responded
We don’t have to agree politically, I just wished you respected facts and journalistic integrity, neither of which can be found on the blaze or Fox News.
At this point one of his friends decided to bogart the conversation, among other things accusing me of having a warped definition of journalistic integrity, which was funny, since I had never given one. I didn’t think he could possibly be serious, so I simply stated that Fox is not defensible, not if you’re literate. This sent him on a tirade of “NBC and MSNBC suck you know! You’re telling me they’re better?!”
“No,” I said, “I’m not commenting on other news sources, I’m commenting on FOX, which is terrible, systemically biased, and a great source for ridiculous outbursts like “Amsterdam is a cesspool of corruption!”; “Tide goes in, tide goes out, you can’t explain that!”; “Now we all know that Jon Stewart is going to Hell” and so many more.” He fired back with the same argument: “Other news sources are bad you know! You’re not aware that one time Chris Matthews told Hilary Clinton he’d help her?!”
It didn’t matter how many times I tried to explain to him that the “well, other people suck too!” is not a valid argument he went back to it four times, after which I abandoned the conversation. While there was no point in letting the facebook flame wars we were having devolve any further as he was getting less and less coherent as time went on (at one point he accused me of having made a race-based argument, though making clear that he was not calling me a racist o.O), I felt the need to address this.
If someone criticizes something that you like or respect, is your automatic reaction to
A. Use that criticism to make assumptions about what that person likes or respects, and
B. Use “well, what you like SUCKS!” as an argument?
If you do, please stop, it’s a very silly argument.
Leaving out the weird rambling racist analogy that my facebook rival was trying to formulate to address this issue, let me give you an analogy myself.
I walk in to your apartment building, and immediately I notice that something is off. There’s a musty smell in the lobby, I can clearly see water damage on one side of the building, the security camera monitoring the front door is broken and the elevator door jams a lot. I tell you “damn, you’re apartment building really sucks!”
You respond “yea, well, other apartment buildings on this block suck too you know! I saw paint peeling in the bathroom of number 8! And the doorman at number 5 is really rude! You can’t prove that my apartment building is the worst!”
You’re right, I can’t, because to do so would require me investigating every inch of every apartment building on the block, which would honestly take far more time and effort than I am willing to put into this. I can say that I suspect your apartment building is the worst, given what I have seen so far, but for all I know the building next door has a devil’s gate to Hell hidden in the basement that I don’t know about. Also, you have to define what you mean by “worst”, worst in structure? Damage? Security? Aesthetically? Anyway it doesn’t matter if you’re the worst, the second worst or the best. I never accused your building of being the worst, I simply told you there are some major problems with it.
Unperturbed, you pursue the argument “Oh yea?! Well, number 6 over there had a fire in one of the apartments once! And number 10 only has seven floors instead of nine!”
I start to get frustrated, because I’m not talking about the other buildings, I’m talking about yours. If there are other apartment buildings that also have problems that sucks, but it has no bearing on the horrible conditions of yours. The conditions of your building are no better if it is surrounded by worse buildings and no worse if it is surrounded by better buildings. The problems in your place stand on their own and I am criticizing them objectively, not comparatively. If there are problems along the entire block that might be indicative of another problem, perhaps the people that built them are corrupt and need investigating, but that is not the issue here. The issue is there are problems that you and everyone else who lives in this crap apartment building need to address, regardless of what others do in other buildings.
Still unperturbed, you continue “You can’t be objective because you love all the other buildings and want to hate mine no matter what! Did you know that number 3 had a rat in the basement? I saw it! And number 9 has squeaky doors!”
And this is where I abandon the conversation, because there is no argument to be made with a brick wall of stubborn.
If someone takes issue with something that you like or respect, you need to address the specific criticisms that that person has. If they are right, take a good look at them and see if they have a point. Screaming at everyone else around you in order to deflect negative attention from yourself not only is a losing argument, it makes you look like a child having a tantrum.
Extra brownie points to anyone who feels like turning the above exchange into a webcomic, we’ll call it “talking to Fox viewers” 🙂