The main reason people make bad faith arguments isn't to promote their false and harmful idea. In fact, they may not care about the idea at all. The point is to destroy the idea of good faith.

And to separate intended victims from unthreatened allies.
Imagine you have a friend. Let’s call him Rick Reasonable.

Now imagine you have an enemy. Let’s call your enemy Bart B. Oilingwater.
Bart is a real piece of crap. Whenever he sees you, he throws boiling water at you. Usually you dodge it, but every once in a while, he catches you with a bit.
You have some bad scarring on one arm, and a few places on your face and neck. And you have to constantly be on the lookout for Bart, because if you let your guard down, it’s scalding water time!
Rick is a good friend. He thinks it is really bad that Bart throws boiling water on you. He tells you this all the time. He’s got a popular TV show, and he’s gone on the record a few times that Bart is in the wrong for always trying to hit you in the face with boiling water.
Then one day you turn on the TV at the end of the day, and you see Rick has Bart on as a guest. Rick is arguing with Bart about whether or not it is good to douse you with boiling water at every available opportunity. Rick is … parsing things a little more than you’d like.
He wants to know if the water has to be boiling, if it can’t just be very hot. Bart says, no, no, it really does have to be boiling.
But does it have to be water, Rick asks. Could it be something a bit easier to dodge, like molasses or tar? Bart thinks about this, and decides he isn’t sure. He’ll have to get back to Rick on that one—but really, he prefers water.
Rick would like to know why it needs to be you every time. Bart is shocked that Rick would suggest such a thing. He doesn’t have a throwing-boiling-water-on-you-specifically bone in his body. He just believes in throwing boiling water, you happen to be the one that’s there.
He’d like to know why, if you apparently hate being struck with boiling water, you insist on being in areas where you know he will be throwing it.
Rick wants to know if there can’t be days Bart could promise to not throw boiling water. So you could plan around it.
Bart suggests that Rick is really the one singling him, Bart, out, by being so intolerant of his rich cultural heritage of throwing boiling water on people.
He hints that Rick’s constant scolding makes Bart want to seek you out specifically now, to throw boiling water on you, for daring to suppose such a thing of him.
Rick concedes that Bart absolutely does have a right to walk the streets carrying as much boiling water as he wants, in the long-standing tradition of our country. Bart appreciates Rick’s stance on the matter, and compliments him on his willingness to find common ground.
At the end of the segment, he and Bart agree to disagree on whether or not it is good to attempt to douse you with boiling water every day.
Bart still thinks it is very good—though he insists it is not directed at you, but only at spaces that you happen to inhabit. He wonders, again, why you choose to inhabit those spaces.
Rick continues to insist that throwing at the space that you inhabit is tantamount to throwing it at you, and that it is quite rude indeed. They shake hands.

There is a commercial for Pepsi.

How are we feeling about Rick?
Imagine it — the idea of watching your friend have a conversation—one about whether or not you should be allowed to be harmed or maimed or even killed—with the person who is actively trying to do it.
Imagine it; the idea that your friend would be more concerned with appearing open-minded in public, than in defending your actual skin from scalding off your actual flesh.

Who would treat your abuse as an abstraction to discuss.
It is going to become necessary, if we are serious about justice, to discern a person’s intentions before determining whether it is appropriate to engage with them in this marketplace of ideas—even before determining if the marketplace itself is appropriate
Some people’s ideas are genocide and slavery. They don’t want to win a debate, they just want to be listed on the exchange.

They don’t have ideas, as such. They have intentions.
The idea is a seat at the table. They have an instrumental view of debate, not a philosophical one. You can tell this, because they will effortlessly change from one statement to a contradictory one, if it is useful in the moment to take a contradictory position.
Well, great. So if they’re all liars, we should be able to beat them easily, right? Why are we afraid to engage their ideas, if our ideas are better?
That seems like a perfectly reasonable question. The problem is, it’s entirely the wrong question. It’s a category error, because while you are debating, your opponent is merely *using* debate. The fact that you are engaging means he’s already succeeded.
Once you are willing to debate whether one group of people or another should be abused, then abusing and expelling people from society is something that is up for debate. It's on the table. It's listed on the exchange.

Which was the point.
Debate them? OK, why not? They’re lying. They're wrong. You’ll win. Easy. Now debate again.

Again. Again.



Each time the people you're debating *about* have to listen as they become more abstract.

Again. The idea of the lie is entering the public consciousness.
Again. The idea of *lying* is entering the public consciousness. The idea is taking hold, that debate is a thing where people argue by lying. They’re lying, you’re lying, but it’s all lies anyway, right? Both sides.
Again. The lies are getting thicker, but more hidden by their ubiquity. Again. The lies are getting better, more convincing. Again. They’re being focus-tested in the marketplace of ideas. Again. There are bumper stickers and signs.
Again. There are protests in favor of direct and shocking action, premised upon the lie. Again. There are hats, red hats, a sea of them. Again. Again. Here are refugees stranded. Again. Their children ripped from their arms.
Again. Here are raids tearing families apart. Again. Here is a mosque defaced. Again. A man in a turban attacked. Again. An elderly woman being run down by storm troopers in the streets. Again. More raids. Again.
Unthinkable. Except it isn’t. We’ve been thinking about the unthinkable, like very open-minded and reasonable people, for years.

Remember this, whenever anyone stands in front of a crowd and mourns the disagreement, rather than the cause, and fails even to consider the victims.
btw this thread came from a longer essay I wrote last year. If you want to read it, behold. It is here.…
The opportunity is a trap meant to utilize civil discussion to normalize harmful intent and should be declined, is the point.
If you want to have a debate about *how* we are going to make sure every cancer patient in this country gets treatment, I’d be happy to debate. If you want to have a debate about *should* we treat all cancer patients, it’s a short conversation. Yes we should. The end.
Then we check both for burns and note the unburned person’s claim is illegitimate, and also he’s holding boiling water.
Some of you who clicked through to the longer essays (thank you) pointed out that the internal links were broken (thank you again).

Fixed now!…
Lol. No.

But I *do* know what free speech is and is not, so I got that going for me.

Notice the bad faith.

We're not imagining unarmed black people killed by police.
Or Puerto Rico and Flint languishing
Or children in cages
Or underfunded public schools
Or mass shootings
Or people dying for lack of health insurance
Or ICE raids
Or voter disenfranchisement
These aren't "disagreements." They are purposeful engineered abuse based on bad assumptions that dehumanize people.

We're not going to work it out. We're going to oppose it.

There's nothing to debate.
I think debate's a terrible tool for changing minds.

I think people are moved by story, not argument.

An adversity overcome. People standing for what's right without apology. People who make something better out of something worse.

I intend to be as good a story as I can be.
Or, put another way, you *can* cut the lawn with toenail clippers, but I wouldn't recommend it.
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