April 22, 2011 By: David Rosman Columbia, MO
“Arrrgggg! Where are these people getting these thoughts? These conspiracies that liberals and President Obama are out to destroy the world, one person at a time? Why do we give FoxNews a moment of our time? Why do I care? Because I am a Commie, pinko, hippy freak, liberal, progressive, Democrat, skeptic; that’s why!”
FoxNews is known (?) for its fair and balanced reporting (??), right??? So where do they get the idea that the suicide of a young man on the evening of President Obama’s speech and that speech were somehow connected?
I am afraid we will never know, because shortly after the story ran its course and then received so many complaints, it was taken off line. Does this mean that someone at Fox has a centrist brain? Mostly no, but we could pray couldn’t we? That is, of course, if you are not an atheist like me. We can always look to bribe somebody in a Fox newsroom to say something good about liberals.
The conversation that has led to yet another Rosman diatribe was started by my good LinkedIn friend Angela DeFinis of DeFinis Communication in San Francisco. It is not that we speak a lot to each other, but I read her stuff and she lets me post my thoughts on her LinkedIn page. Oh yes, she also laughs at my bad jokes. Like the opening paragraph here, my response to her LinkedIn note concerning the failed conspiracy attempt by Fox.
Unfortunately, others seem to take comments like mine waaaaaaaaay too seriously. Not as seriously as some of the more conservative readers of my various columns. They can get down right ugly, to a point of sending me what I perceived as threats. Having my picture show on an anti-Islamic Web site with “Know your enemy” written next to it can be perceived as a threat, right?
For the most part, the responders to commentators are not violent in nature. Occasionally someone will have a short hair pulled, but those individuals are only looking to blow off some anonymous steam. They become obnoxious, but usually no more. Most cannot spell, like the person who called me a “self hating Joooooo.” Self-hating is hyphenated and Joooooo should only have two “o”s.
It is when respondents become ugly and just mean is when I end any further correspondence, whether as comments below an article, or on any one of the social sites to which I subscribe, or in personal correspondence. My telephone number is not listed and so far no telephone calls. So far.
When teaching Communication Ethics, students are taught that any discussion is a good discussion and debate as long as everyone follows the rules.
1) No name calling. This is a sure sign that the opposition’s argument has completely died.
2) Using “Ad Hominem” – Are you personally being attached by the opposition? If yes, end the debate. If it is the issue that is being attacked, then bring the debate back on track.
3) Is the other party saying they are right simply because of their title? If so, question everything they declare as “truth.”
4) Never argue a false dichotomy. Nothing is simply black or white. There are a lot of grays out there. (I am not white and my friend Erick is not black. He’s more dark tan and me, I am pretty much beige.)
5) Lying is not an option.
6) Respect the other person’s opinion whether or not you agree.
7) Listen critically, think skeptically
8) If you do not know, say so. Ask for an explanation so you can look it up later.
9) Summarize what you are going to say. Say it. Prove it. Summarize what you just said.
10) Never ignore the opposition’s side of the argument. This comes from General Sun Tsu who said in his book Art of War, “Know your enemy as well as you know yourself and you will never fear 1,000 battles.”
There is a lesson I learned from former United States Representative Pat Schroeder. I worked with her on a project concerning the renewal of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. I chaired a group who wrote a report concerning what would happen in post-secondary education if the Equal Employment Opportunity laws were eliminated. (By the way, the EEOC came in the Nixon administration.) When a local Denver reporter wanted to get at Ms Schroeder, he used me and I was very very upset. That’s when the Representative told me the real story about politics. Taking things personally will only land one in the hospital before my time. So I stopped taking being targeted personally.
So why can’t those who tend to violently disagree with me and others who write for news papers and blogs just be civil? Maybe because they cannot. There is nothing worse than loosing an argument to someone who knows what she or he is talking about.
Take my advice, young writers, political types and others who feel it is important to tell me I am wrong and you are right, and I must accept that and you will allow me to live. Next time someone leaves the facts of a discussion on the track to die a lonesome death and deal only in the muck of emotional gobbledygook, smile, put you hand above your head and say “I win.” Then walk away whistling.
Why whistle? Because no one knows if you are really happy… or really pissed off. (Cue the Andy Griffith song…)