Last month, one of the articles I wrote had to do with personal attacks.
I didn’t like it when Ezra Levant and friends referred to Chief Spence as Chief Snacksalot or Porkahontas or Chief Spends. I didn’t like it when Senator Patrick Brazeau cracked mean-spirited jokes about Chief Spence, and mocked her, at a fundraiser.
And while I completely understand why some may respond in kind, I still don’t like it.
Today on Facebook, a suggestion was shared that people should come up with equally nasty names for Senator Brazeau as a response to comments he has made about Chief Spence, the Idle No More movement, and all manner of things that attack and insult Indigenous peoples of Canada. The suggestion was made under the guise of being ‘humor’ and acceptable because American gay rights activist Dan Savage had done likewise in 2003 when he took exception to comments made by then-U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.
That was then; this is now.
Let’s not mix apples with oranges and say because someone acts badly that we should react in kind with our own brand of acting badly.
If you want to lose a debate, speak your opponent’s language instead of your own. In other words, lowering your standards to the use of insults, ridicule and humiliation to score points will not increase your popularity — or decrease your opponent’s popularity — with the audience. If anything, it will provide a platform from which your opponent, and his or her followers, will find firm ground from which to launch the next volley of insults, ridicule and humiliation.
Lead with your weak suit to allow those who disagree with your position to dismiss you all the more quickly under catcalls and allegations of being irrelevant or immaterial or anything else that might stick. This is the consequence of misframing issues in political debate. Leave those who disagree with you a good line of attack, and they will run with it in ways you cannot stop.
But most of all, if you want to lose a debate, change your mind in the middle of it all. How so? The popularity and public awareness of a cause has a trackable impact and effect on the general public. You can lose or gain ground by how you choose to move forward with the cause. In other words, the value in remembering the saying that if you sleep with dogs, you get fleas is an apt saying even in this day and age.
Idle No More is a peaceful movement. That is where the four co-founders of the movement want it to exist.
The feelings that are associated with various issues that are part of Idle No More are real. Those feelings cannot be controlled. Those feelings exist as they are in the hearts of each living, breathing person. However, how each person chooses to express those feelings is within each person’s control.
I would prefer that each person chooses to express their feelings without insult or ridicule or humiliation as a driving force. I would prefer that each person speak his or her mind using facts and logic and reason.
And as one Facebook friend wrote about the suggestion to shame Senator Brazeau : “I believe you’re going down the wrong path, putting your efforts into a shaming of someone who has already shamed himself.”