• author
    • Gary Huerta

    • October 12, 2013 in Columnists

    This just in… are you ‘argumentally challenged’?

    In national news: The government shutdown goes on. And while the debate, or whatever it’s called, rages on, one thing is without dispute: The issue has created an absolute abundance of insipid commentary from people who cannot discern fact from fiction and opinion from rhetoric.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the slanted, deceptive misinformation floating around.

    If this political clusterfuck has done anything, it’s reaffirmed that tolerating opinions and rhetoric with no truth is a complete waste of time and energy. I am not talking about opinions that differ from yours. You may not agree with a particular opinion, but if it has merit and reason, it should not be dismissed. I have plenty of friends I don’t agree with whose opinions I respect. Why? Because their opinions are not fantasyland cuckoo bananas. They use facts and information to support their beliefs. On occasion, I have even been persuaded to rethink my point of view. Because, after all, informed opinions should be fluid and subject to evolution upon discovery of new truths.

    Of course, over on the dark side of the moon, I have a lot of Facebook friends who are bat shit crazy. Debating anything with these people is a losing game every time I play. There is no convincing them of anything regardless of the evidence presented. I think of them as a living, breathing O.J. Simpson jury.

    Unfortunately, these are also the ones who, more often than not, thrive on rhetoric and political posturing. Frankly, I’m beginning to believe these people are holding us back and keeping us from moving along in a more productive manner – sort of the way remedial students in my U.S. History class forced Mrs. McIntyre to go over chapter three again and again. And again.

    Am I the only one who thinks that it gets old waiting for these folks to catch up? To that end, I’ve compiled a handy list of arguments with examples. My greatest hope is that with easy-to-follow definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster, these people might be able to more easily identify the truth from the steaming piles of pooh.

    For the rest of you, use the list as a script for when it’s time unfriend or block that old high school buddy who believes everything on FOX News is the gospel truth.

    A fact is defined as a piece of information presented as having objective reality. In other words, it is true. While rare in most political situations, facts are easy to spot. This is a fact: If you are reading this, you are human. Here’s another fact: The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is already a law. See? Easy to identify!

    Merriam-Webster defines fiction as written stories about people and events that are not real. That’s not to say they don’t or can’t sound real. They can. For the best examples of fiction that sounds incredibly real, I recommend listening to Ted Cruz for 30 to 40 seconds. This is also fiction: All Republican Congressmen are against Obamacare. From the example provided, it is clear: Fiction has no political affiliation, despite what some people believe.

    This is a belief, judgment or way of thinking about something. An opinion can be based on fact, fiction or any combination of things. This is an opinion: Congress, as a whole, sucks. As you will observe, this opinion could easily fall into the baseless category were I not to follow it up with some evidence such as: the existence of Mitch McConnell. Regardless of my factual backup, and I could have tomes of it, my opinion remains just that… an opinion. Here’s yet another opinion: If your opinion isn’t based on some sort of fact or grounding principle, it’s not really an opinion. Which brings me to…

    Rhetoric is language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable. The noise that comes out of the pie holes of either Michelle Bachman or Sarah Palin is almost always rhetoric. Here is an example of rhetoric: The government shutdown is Barack Obama’s doing. This is neither fact nor opinion. It’s simply random words strung together to influence, and as a bonus, deflect accountability away from the real perpetrators of the shutdown.

    Hopefully these examples will help those who are “Argumentally Challenged” and give the rest of us a fighting chance of evolving. If not, we may be doomed to relive an unfortunate chapter in U.S. History again. And again.

    For now, I’m over and out.

    • “A living breathing OJ Simpson jury”…. fabulous!
      And: “random words strung together to influence, and as a bonus, deflect accountability away from the real perpetrators” – I think you just defined Fox News.
      Great column!

    • Thanks! I can’t tell you how many times I revised and reworked this piece. I kept walking away from it thinking it was going nowhere. Glad I didn’t give up on it.

    • Your writing is always going somewhere Gary. Love it. I loved the OJ line as well as the Obamacare which is really ACA and as soon as it works the name Obamacare will be withdrawn so as not to give him any credit.

      • Chris

      • October 16, 2013 at 8:47 am
      • Reply

      Excellent as writing as usual Gary. I only wish our government would stop giving you such fertile comedic material.

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