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Aren’t we more than just what we believe?

Has anyone else noticed the increasingly aggressive online arguments going on around terrorism, racism and immigration? David Chadwick certainly has.

Does everyone need to take a step back and have a few deep breaths? The level of abuse I am seeing online as the arguments over our treatment of refugees intensifies is getting a little out of hand.

Now I have commented that I am in favour of a much more humane approach to refugees and separately that I am pretty sickened by the sensationalist anti-Muslim sentiment being stirred up in the media and the political arena (Jacqui Lambie should be ashamed of herself). Perhaps unsurprisingly then, I have been pretty disgusted by some of the bigoted and plain stupid posts I have come across on social media recently. For all that, I have tried to keep my responses as civil as possible. Some of my responses have probably been a little on the sarcastic side, especially towards the truly stupid, but I am at a loss to understand the people who whip themselves into such an apoplectic fury with those they are arguing with that they make it so personal.

The idea that if someone doesn’t share my belief, I can heap scorn and abuse on them- even threaten them and wish them harm, as I have seen- seems disturbingly familiar. Oh that’s right – that is how religious extremists think. I would like to think most of us are better than that, but that belief is getting harder to maintain.

While I think it is pretty obvious which groups a lot of this type of behaviour is coming from, there is enough of it coming from all sides of the debate that I thought I would just put this out to everyone.

Do we need to be getting that angry with each other? The real trolls and bigots are too insignificant to even deserve my anger, but to some extent I do believe others are entitled to disagree with me. They might even be right about some things. If we define each other according to a single opposing belief, we are being very one dimensional. Some of the people who I hold very different beliefs to have turned out to be really good friends. Of course that is more of an exception to the rule, but it is worth remembering.

To those who have experienced this rather unpleasant overreaction to airing contrary views, I am a little saddened you had to, but I suggest you take it as an indication you were probably winning your argument. Those who have logic on their side should have little need to resort to abuse and violence. There is more than one form of cowardice in the world and one form is to not have the courage to admit that you are (or may be) wrong and to try to cover it with bluster and threats. If you can, I recommend ending that conversation immediately and reporting the comment if appropriate. There is going to be little you can do to affect that person’s world view. Getting angry and responding in kind is only going to be counterproductive. One poorly worded post in anger can do more damage to your cause than anything your opponent says.

To those who are seriously aggravated by not getting through to those they argue with, you are probably arguing with the wrong people. Rather than letting it devolve into something that will entrench each side’s view further, disengage now. Save your arguments for someone who might listen to them. If you can’t change someone’s thinking with calm discussion of facts, you are not going to change their thinking through getting personal or aggressive. And if you are not going to change someone’s thinking, what is the point of the conversation.

Obviously many people realise they are not so much arguing to change the mind of their direct interlocutors, but to shape the dialogue that others are reading. If that is your goal, fair enough- you have chosen a difficult task. Still it remains important to retain your composure and stick to stating the key facts that refute opposing arguments, as once again you will persuade few third party observers of the legitimacy of your belief by getting sucked into a personal feud with a troll.

This article was originally published as on the Quietblog.

 

19 comments

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  1. RosemaryJ36

    The anger I feel is exclusively directed at those whom we have elected and whom we expect to make decisions that are rational, humane and in accordance with international treaties.
    Both ALP and LNP have forfeited my respect in allowing the appalling treatment of innocent people, almost all of whom are genuine refugees, because they have backed themselves into a corner and lack the guts to admit they were wrong.

  2. 5ime0n

    I propose that the following is universally true: no matter your conviction, your volume, or the amount of spittle on your lip, an argument is only as good as the points you are making. If vitriol is your only response than you do a disservice to your point of view. Should we be complaining that inane comments are the norm, or just be glad that our opponent hasn’t mounted a defense we cant dispute?

  3. Glenn K

    ” If we define each other according to a single opposing belief, we are being very one dimensional”

    David, when that single opposing belief is an ethical one which strikes to our own core value system, then – yes – it becomes very personal and we CAN define someone according to that one issue because it speaks to that person’s core ethics. I am not advocating violence or abuse, but a rejection of that person along with his/her views is entirely appropriate.

    It is not simply an intellectual debate or discussion on the merits of Manus island for example. To imprison in appalling conditions innocent victims and consider it a price to pay for a higher good, is to smokescreen an ethical and moral choice one has to make to even enter into a consideration of the issue.

    Racists are quite one dimensional in this regard. However, I am not prepared to give a racist the benefit of the doubt that he/she could otherwise be a lovely person. Sorry, can’t get past the racism. There’s nothing lovely about the racists core ethics.

    So here we are with some very divisive issues. But they are core to an ethical choice we as a society must make. So it will get uglier and it must if we are to ever reach a resolution. The ugliness needs to expose itself for it to be reacted against.

    The woman at my dinner party who explained how we must at all cost STOP THE BOATS, never set foot in my home again and my children no longer play with hers. I’m okay with that.

  4. Mark Needham

    Yes. A good article.
    Then there are some dinner parties, that are good, not to attend, Hey.
    To be forewarned is forearmed.
    Mark Needham

  5. charybds

    I make no apologies for being rude to anyone who supports the mistreatment of other humans ..
    Being placatory towards people who smile and nod and hide the horrors or even worse, those who support the atrocities, is casting pearls before swine.
    I’m not prepared to be complacent about our detention practices or the disgraceful denigration being dealt out to a misunderstood minority.
    Save your pretty politics for the cafes it belongs in .. and let me get my hands around Dutton’s neck.

  6. diannaart

    I don’t see the point in being rude – waste too much energy for a start and it can alienate people – even those who agree may prefer to keep clear – who wants to be around a bully of any political stripe?

    That said, there are people who interpret a different opinion as an insult – for example, I admit I am an atheist and this is taken to mean I hate religion – not point in continuing further dialogue with such people.

    Also, courtesy doesn’t cost anything and it is always a good place to start any conversation.

    I always wonder at people who cannot passionately voice themselves without anger or disrespect.

  7. Sen Nearly Ile

    why do you think refugees and asylum seekers are just interchangeable words in the media? Jacqui lambe is hardly a typical ex-soldier pollie. Why not try the officers like brough or hastie or michaelia. These troll include ordinary 100 IQs who write what they see, believe and are told.
    I sat under my house with a chippy redneck who believes that the ABC is left wing, i know he doesn;t watch the abc so no joy their but he also believes the courier mail and the advertiser are labor papers/ When I said what about the australian he said sometimes?
    This man sees men running from syria and asylum seekers on boats are men but the african refugees are women and children. His beliefs are the direct opposite of yous but he is not a troll.

  8. mars08

    I remember the first couple of weeks of Trump’s campaigning.

    There were those who said that it was funny. They insisted the buffoon was in it just for publicity, he’d be gone in a month. The man was so ridiculous that common sense would prevail and people who dismiss him.

    Rather than burn out, Trump has dragged the Republican candidates to dangerous group… he has normalised ideas that shod be abhorrent… he is desensitising the mass media. His comments draw much less outrage than they should.

    Letting Trump spew his relentless, loathsome rubbish has not caused people to turn away in disgust. Rather it has placed him as a front runner to be the next US president.

    Should i moderate my language when it comes to certain topics. No! Bugger off! To me they are not negotiable. They are basic human rights ffs!

    As a nation we took a laid-back attitude to government policies on data retention, citizenship laws, environmental protections, media laws, troop deployment, deficit obsession, welfare ‘reform’, trade pacts etc etc. These topics have been widely discussed with those “who might listen”… good grief… it they were discussed by out elected representatives in parliament! And how did that turn out? Well, as usual, the politicians resorted to pandering to the lowest denominators… fear and ignorance.

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

  9. Greg

    I have commented on a few far right rhetoric post in the past and posted counter arguments with documents and minutes from the parliamentary site itself , international news articles and other conclusive proof as to the authenticity of the post just to get threats of physical harm or death threats sent to my face book account and email . The sad thing is that a lot of these trolls are so far entrenched into their point of view that it seems any other view is deemed as threatening them . Currently in this country it is those that talk the loudest get in the news weather that persons views are constructive or not and off late it is those that are trying to separate society by religion , wealth , age and off cause disability that have the loudest and most aggressive following , Most people will back off and discontinue any contact with these people because of the lack off protection , there are many face book groups that post all of the transparently flawed and quite frankly blatant lies of LNP Government with daily abuse sent to them , I have back traced a few of these threats to them and Identified the aggressors with no action from either state or federal police despite the current laws . So the moral of this is , If you are not willing to be abused or threatened then please step carefully , Reporting this abuse in Australia is a waist of time , a few reports may be taken but there will be no action on those reports unless you are on the side of the LNP , As stated earlier I had traced a few of the aggressors and identified them just to get a warning from the federal police because it seems identifying people that threaten violence and harm is in it self illegal .. hahaha who knew ?

  10. jim

    I’d just like to say that why is it that in Australia we’re told that we are a Christian Nation? while it is true some of us are, the 2011 consensus states the 61% see themselves as religious, yet there are only 7% that attend church on a weekly basis, a very huge difference which tells me that even the consensus is to be taken with a grain of salt just like the poles all B..s..t..

    Australia has no state religion; Section 116 of the Australian Constitution prohibits the federal government from making any law to establish any religion, impose any religious observance, or prohibit the free exercise of any religion.[253] In the 2011 census, 61.1% of Australians were counted as Christian, including 25.3% as Roman Catholic and 17.1% as Anglican; 22.3% of the population reported having “no religion”; 7.2% identify with non-Christian religions, the largest of these being Buddhism (2.5%), followed by Islam (2.2%), Hinduism (1.3%) and Judaism (0.5%). The remaining 9.4% of the population did not provide an adequate answer.[231]

    Australia has one of the lowest levels of religious adherence in the world.[256] It was reported in 2001 that only 7% of Australians attended church on a weekly basis.[257]

    Education

  11. Kyran

    Apparently, a black actor, Noma Dumezweni, has been cast to play “Hermione Granger” in a West End play, “The Cursed Child”, which is the official eighth story of the Harry Potter series. There has been a ‘twitter storm’ which seems to revolve around a critical question.

    “Numerous Twitter users asked why Hermione was cast as black, and some questioned the credibility of the play.”

    The ensuing campaign would be considered as hilarious, except it isn’t parody, it really is happening. As at least one wag pointed out,

    “Complains about Hermione being black but doesn’t bat an eyelid at the concept of an owl-based postal system and giants mating with humans”
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-21/hermione-cast-as-black-woman-in-harry-potter-and-cursed-child/7046704

    Whilst I happily treat many of our political, religious and business leaders with derision and contempt, I generally avoid anger. In my experience, anger and hatred have no positive outcomes. Sites such as this are a welcome relief from the predictable vitriolic diatribe which is readily available on MSM. Many commenters clearly read a lot and can offer differing perspectives that can only enhance comprehension of so many issues. This allows for thoughts to become malleable, subject to change or influence, based on facts and evidence.
    That is not to say there aren’t some commenters who clearly stopped reading and thinking in the last century. They are readily identifiable and predictable, so cause me no concern. You only need to read them once, such is their predictability.
    Thank you, Mr Chadwick. Take care

  12. Sen Nearly Ile

    How chilling, mars08. When so many believe that gillard was a liar and the rabbott wasn’t and that labor had AAA rating we had a debt crisis. That by ridding sunday penalty rates so bars and cafes will employ more more backpackers colworths will spend their extra millions as wisely as the worker they take the money from would have.

  13. Roswell

    If you want to attract nasty, write something that catches out Larry Pickering’s bullshit.

    I wrote such an article here which admin had to eventually take down due to the relentless and vile attack from the Pickering fan club.

    Apparently too The AIMN was bombarded with hate mail.

  14. Roswell

    Mars08, Trumpet scares me. I hope to have a post up about it over Xmas.

  15. Mark Needham

    “I don’t see the point in being rude – waste too much energy for a start and it can alienate people – even those who agree may prefer to keep clear – who wants to be around a bully of any political stripe?”says diannaart December 21, 2015 at 7:14

    Spoken with which face, sport., and the more you say, the deeper it gets.
    You really can be one, can’t you.
    Sincerely,
    Mark Needham
    PS Pickerings’ site is no different to this site, at times. Everyone has a “set in stone” ideaology, and pity the poor child with the big ears. Crucified, dead and Buried.

  16. stephen Bowler

    I will admit to being a little offensive from time to time – I often regret it but not always – sometimes I think some comments on face book are just so offensive that I just have to reply in kind.

    But I agree it does not do to treat fire with fire as it always is a waste of energy

    Bugga – sure makes you feel good though

    I came accross this Billblog article which seems to have an important thing to say about intrenched belief

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=31490

  17. Dave Chadwick

    Glen K, I am glad you (and others who have made similar comments to yours) are both passionate and angry about this topic. We need plenty of people to have that energy to drive change, but that passion and anger needs to be directed constructively and at the right targets. Are your children’s friends the appropriate target?
    By becoming as black and white as you advocate we become very similar to the bigots- the only difference is we know we are right. Of course bigots know they are right too.

    I stand by the statement that some bigots have a lot to offer the world and racism is not always the deliberate choice you make it out to be. In other aspects of their lives they may be incredibly kind, generous and respectful. However we are often a product of our surroundings and many Australians grow up in an ideological bubble that they are never taught to question, due to disengaging with their education and the fact that everyone they respect has the same beliefs.

    When these beliefs are challenged clearly and with respect for the person that holds them, I have found it is sometimes possible to completely change someone’s outlook towards refugees. If I treat them as a pariah in my social group, they may never have exposure to opposite views they will listen to and will continue to crystallise their existing beliefs.

    You stated:
    “David, when that single opposing belief is an ethical one which strikes to our own core value system, then – yes – it becomes very personal and we CAN define someone according to that one issue because it speaks to that person’s core ethics. I am not advocating violence or abuse, but a rejection of that person along with his/her views is entirely appropriate.”
    This subjective distinction sounds similar to the rationale I have heard from hard-line vegans and environmentalists, where it was equally inappropriate.

    I must include a caveat that there truly are some angry and hateful people out there, who offer very little to our society. It doesn’t matter how reasonable you are with them, you will not change their behaviour. If you want to direct your anger towards them, then I can understand why, but what does it achieve? They already expect your enmity because it fits their worldview. Deliberate disengagement seems a more appropriate response in this example.

    Ultimately, we all have to choose how best we combat racism and bigotry. Please continue to be strong and passionate in your beliefs. Just maintain an awareness of what you think will be the best way to affect a change in the people around you.
    All the best
    Dave Chadwick

  18. Mark Needham

    Dave Chadwick. You have just said, that which I have been trying to say, myself. But yours is a far better version. Thank You.
    Mark Needham

  19. Kaye Lee

    Mark,

    You say you have pure intent but most of your comments are deliberate barbs at other individual posters.

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