Circular Arguments: “I Asked You to Talk, So Shut the Fuck Up!” and Other Ridiculous Debate Tactics

Every once in a while, someone makes an argument I’d like to refute, but I can’t for some reason. In the context of this blog, it often comes up when someone ignores my comment policy and I’m thus unable to publish and respond to what they wrote.

Often, it’s not that big of a deal, because the comments I’m unable to publish are either pointless (like a random string of bigoted expletives or threats of violence) or just the same argument over and over again, saying the same things that have already been said, and that I’ve already responded to, in full, multiple times.

Frankly, I’m losing a bit of patience with that one, especially in the context of the entry that MRAs love the most. I’m getting tired of repeating myself, and comments start to become so damn repetitive that I have to just tell commenters to read what I’ve already said before asking the same damn questions. If they were asking if my opinion had changed since I made those comments, I’d at least partially understand, but so often it’s blatantly obvious that they didn’t bother to actually read what I wrote. It’s frustrating, and I see why a lot of SJ bloggers refuse to publish repetitive comments. It’s proof that the commenter doesn’t care about the dialogue, the discussion of the issue, but rather at making a petty, selfish point about how they think they’ve got the superior intellect and/or opinion.

I ran into this dynamic on an acquaintance’s Facebook page recently. I’m going to directly quote some of what this person said:

“[W]hy do you feel the need to be loud and obnoxious instead of having an intelligent conversation?…You’re only hurting your position by not being able to speak intelligently and without venom on what you’re trying to push across….You’re a sad person. I feel bad for you. Your inability to argue and constantly fall back on ‘you’re a white male’ you can’t have an opinion is infuriating. Thanks for posting a bunch of links that I don’t need to nor will I be reading….[Y]our posts above PROVE everything about your intelligence. You’re incapable of thought that doesn’t involve attacking someone….Do you feel better now after having posted all of that? Good. I didn’t read any of it. You’ve already proved to me that you have nothing of import to say.”

Dude literally went through Derailing for Dummies nearly point-by-fucking-point. And when I linked there, and linked to my relevant posts here (this one, this one, this one, and this one) on the subject, he told me he wouldn’t read them, because I was obviously incredibly stupid, and so he shouldn’t have to listen to my opinion.

Allow me to very specifically clarify: He challenged me to discuss things intellectually, and when I shared my intellectual discussion, he told me he’d not even consider listening. He demanded an education (which no minority is required to grant, ever), yet when presented with one, he called the teacher stupid and plugged his ears ’til the end of the school day, because clearly that’s how you become a smarter, better-informed student, amirite?

Yet somehow, people like this think they’re the reasonable ones here. They think they deserve to be listened to over us. I mean, clearly they’re superior to us, because they aren’t upset about prejudice that only we face. This dude called me stupid and disgusting, yet felt that the far greater insult was me noting that he has privilege. But hey, he’s a straight, white, cis, able-bodied male who pointedly said, “I’m not a privileged anything,” so I suppose I shouldn’t have expected too much.

Lemme try an analogy. It will likely fail among those who are extremely ableist, but I think it may work for at least some people who have so much privilege they don’t know where to start in this whole “empathy” game:

Imagine that you’re on a blind date. Your date is able-bodied, and you’re in a wheelchair. They choose a restaurant that requires you to climb a flight of stairs to be seated, and when you try to explain that you can’t do that, they tell you that you shouldn’t let it get to you, because they don’t mind climbing the stairs. If going up the stairs isn’t a problem for them, it can’t possibly be a problem for you. Why are you so hung up on this whole “stairs” thing? The potstickers here are amazing, so it’s totally worth it. It is totally worth being completely unable to even go eat that damn food, because you have no way of getting up those stairs. Don’t you see? They don’t care that you can’t walk, so why do you? God, you fucking cripples just never shut up about the goddamn stairs, do you?

Well clearly your date’s getting laid tonight! I mean, knock you over with a feather, what a dreamboat. You are so lucky that you got to date them! Hell, I’m a little aroused just writing that steamy little scene. Good thing I appreciate a great ass, because their head is firmly shoved right the fuck up there.

If the sarcasm somehow isn’t getting through, let me spell this out in no uncertain terms: You are not magically a better, smarter, more sensitive, kinder, more egalitarian person just because you aren’t offended by prejudice that doesn’t effect you. I’m pretty sure American plantation owners a couple hundred years ago weren’t too upset about slavery. Does that mean they were better than the slaves who worked in their fields? Does it mean they better understood what it was like to be treated like livestock, beaten, raped, and sold than those slaves themselves? Does it mean slavery was morally, socially, emotionally, or politically right? Or does that just mean they were fucking privileged assholes who couldn’t step outside of their own selfishness long enough to extend some basic empathy to their fellow human beings?

You are, of course, entitled to your ~precious precious opinion~ on this subject, as with any other. But one answer makes you a fucking racist. And you need to stop feigning shock and injury when minorities call you on your bigotry.


About bunnika

shout at the brick wall; if it doesn't hear you, shout louder
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4 Responses to Circular Arguments: “I Asked You to Talk, So Shut the Fuck Up!” and Other Ridiculous Debate Tactics

  1. Stacey says:

    Would you be willing to post the entire conversation between you and this person and perhaps what triggered this individual to respond in the first place? It seems we lost a lot of context with what you quoted and I’d be interested in your responses to him.

    • bunnika says:

      Sure; I didn’t include it in the post because it’s overkill and totally fucks with the flow, but I don’t mind sharing it.

      I actually have screenshots, though the timing is funny because I took them as it happened, as people tend to delete comments in these debates, and that frustrates me to no end. (Note: I actually did miss one comment from Gray that was deleted before I could screenshot it.) Obviously, I’m in orange (the best color in the universe, imo):

      screenshot 1
      screenshot 2
      screenshot 3

      Edit: Sorry for the HTML fail! On some new meds and my brain is foggy as hell.

      Edit 2: Apparently I forgot to expand the last comment. I have a text transcription, so this was the rest: “Change the record. We’ve heard it all before.

      And you don’t know me, so your opinion of me means exactly nothing. I know what I am, and what I stand for. Have a good day. I sure as hell am going to.”

      The redacted portion of my one comment included personal information wrt my experiences with rape and pregnancy, which I am not willing to publicize.

      I fully admit that I was hostile and emotional, and that I did not immediately “educate” those involved in the debate on why the things they were saying were privileged and oppressive. But that’s not my job. I’d just wrapped up the most heartbreakingly ableism-filled day of my life, and facing yet more prejudice was just not what I needed. Defending the political party trying to strip me of what little medical care I’m actually allowed is not what I needed.

      Anyone who refuses to listen to a minority simply because we dare be angry about our own oppression just really doesn’t believe that our equality is worth their discomfort.

      For the record, this unfolded on my partner’s facebook page, and Red went on to send him private notes attacking me, which my partner shot down. I am in a relationship with a straight, white, cis, able-bodied, thin, middle-class-raised male, and he fully supported my comments and told Red he was completely out of line. Because I would never date someone who wasn’t capable of compassion for those less fortunate than themselves.

      I am in a wheelchair because our nation’s lack of universal healthcare and harshly limited Medicaid and SSDI prevented me from receiving treatment that could have lightened the burden. Because it now prevents me from seeing the proper specialists and being given the proper tests, physical therapy, and medicine. And because of that disability, I am four times as likely as an able-bodied woman to be sexually assaulted. And the Republican party wants to keep me in this wheelchair, at risk for that assault, and then force me to carry any resultant child to term, even if it endangered my life.

      So I’ve got no love for anyone who feels the need to play devil’s advocate for those people. They are defending a hugely powerful political group whose official platform is based on misogyny (anti-choice), ableism (anti-government-healthcare), racism (immigration laws), classism (tax cuts for the wealthy, anti-welfare), and homophobia (anti-marriage-equality). But somehow I’m the “disgusting” one.

  2. 00000 says:

    People like that guy are so blinded by their pathetic rage they make me want to live on another planet. And given the opportunity I would take it.

  3. bandaloopdeloop says:

    It’s odd to me about how people focus on who has a “say” in discussions, when what really counts is listening. I think a lot of folks who engage on certain issues have a lot to say, but many are very resistant to the kind of genuine listening and processing that allows someone else’s point to sink in and make a difference. Andyes- in discussions about race, white folks will have to do the lion’s share of just this kind of listening, ditto men in discussions about sexual discrimination etc. etc.

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