How high school debate ruined my blogging career

Occasionally I’m tempted to make some strong political statement on this blog, but I usually avoid it for one simple reason: I was a high school debater, and a pretty good, one, too. (I placed high enough in the Open category in provincials my Grade 12 year to advance to nationals, except that provincials were only my third actual tournament and you had to be in more than that to qualify.)

Why does that keep me from making political pronouncements?

Simply this: in formal debate, you have to argue both sides of a resolution. (Our provincial debate tournament resolution, back in 1976, as I recall it: “Be it resolved that future leaders of major political parties in Saskatchewan be elected by universal popular sufferage.”)

To this day, before I come down on one side or another of a contentious issue, I feel like I need to research both sides in detail, so that any arguments I present are the best that both sides have to offer. Then and only then can I form a truly informed opinion, one that I am confident in presenting to the world.

Of course, if everyone who expresses public opinions presented both sides of an argument and explained their reasoning for choosing one side over the other, there’d be a whole lot less blogging going on. It’s so much simpler to base your world view on straightforward “If X (the opposite political party, a particular politican, a particular section of society, or a particular nation) does it, it must be bad/good” thinking without actually examining whether or not the specific X in question really is bad or good, regardless of who is for or against it.

On the other hand, if said reduction in blogging spared us even one example of simple-minded “satire” of the stupid and insulting “I’m Voting Republican” kind (the most immediate example that comes to mind; it’s already spawned innumerable “I’m Voting Democrat” verbal responses, though I haven’t seen a video one yet), it would be worth it.

Invariably, whenever I hear an opinion expressed in strong, absolutist terms, I start thinking, “Yes, but…” and am inclined to argue the other side.

Which I could do in this blog, I suppose, but the other thing I learned in high school debate is that it takes a lot of time and work to prepare arguments for both sides…and who’s got that kind of time? Especially as a freelance writer. (I’m not getting for paid for these words, you know!)

One can only hope that there are plenty of voters who make sure they study arguments on both (or sometimes multiple) sides of issues and attempt to think rationally about them before casting their ballots, without regard to blind party loyalty or everybody-knows-it-it-must-be-true peer pressure.

One can only hope. One doesn’t actually expect that it’s the case.

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    • Janet on June 18, 2008 at 5:09 pm
    • Reply

    Missed you by three years…

    I was one of Saskatchewan’s representatives to the nationals in 73. And yes, it soured me on politics and also law.

    • Ian H. on June 18, 2008 at 1:20 pm
    • Reply

    You’ve totally missed the point of blogging, which is to venomously attack everything that is not you, and unthinkingly support all that is… there’s not supposed to be any reflection, and certainly no nuance… don’t you know that the world only exists in black and white?! 😛

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