A guest post by Supertradmum, written less than two weeks prior to her death. Always clear and well worth reading. May God grant her eternal rest.
For years, I taught Logic at the university level. I taught students not only how to debate with the old rules of respect and decorum. I taught the fallacies, which cause a “side” to lose a debate, as all fallacies are faulty thinking. I taught that argumentation was a rational exercise, not an emotional response to feeling.
My classes, surprisingly, were popular with the students, even those Logic is a difficult subject. Because the universities trusted me, I was allowed to write my own syllabus, which included serious in-depth research for each topic of debate. As a director type of teacher, I had to approve the peer-approved articles my students used as proof for their positions in the debates.
Watching both the United States government and the Great Britain government, I realised that there is an entire generation which does not know how to debate and which falls into fallacies, especially ad hominem, which is a ploy of attacking the person in an effort to change the subject of the debate and to deviate from the topic. Calling people names, using a certain tone and even nasty language, is a radicalisation that has occurred which most likely cannot be avoided.
Also, there is a confusion about the meaning of “free speech.” Free speech means that one is allowed to speak his or her opinions, not that one is allowed to call the opponents names, like “enemy,” “traitors,” and so on.
As to politics, compromise has been for centuries, the means of communication in Congress and in Parliament. Democracy is a fragile method of government, which not only depends on respect for one’s opponents, but demands an educated, non-emotional populace, which has studied the elements of political debate.
Of course, we are, on both sides of the pond, far from this ideal. Most political decisions on the part of the larger population seem to be knee-jerk reactions, rather that studied positions.
For example, before the ObamaCare bill was passed, I actually read much of the bill, which was made public. How many people bothered to do this? I grew up reading the Congressional Record, which was delivered to our house free of charge, for years. A real citizen takes charge of his or her opinions by knowing the data, not by “feeling” something is right or wrong.
Even lawyers and barristers have resorted to inflammatory language and emotional ad hominems.
Sloppy thinking? No, I think it is more serious than laziness.
When I was teaching Logic, those students who were coming from families which had some sort of moral framework has less trouble with the subject than those who were not. A moral framework builds a foundation of respect and allows the person who has that moral framework to make decisions regarding faulty thinking. A moral framework provides a clear glass to see that faulty thinking.
Those who have deviated from a virtue-based life, whether that person is a Christian, a Jew, a Moslem or a pagan, have a great facility for falling into the new nastiness. Without a virtue-based viewpoint, anything is possible and anything is allowed, even insults and emotional, plainly abusive language.
Logic was a required subject in my high school years ago. Freshman had to take it, so that they would avoid messy research papers and, also, so that they would learn how to think clearly, using rational discourse.
Sigh, we are beyond this and both sides of the political aisle wallow in emotion and even deceit.
Democracy, sadly, is becoming extinct.
JMJ, pray for us!
God is good,