The Futility of Arguing with Idiots

Recently I read an article that I partially agreed with, regarding feminism.  I disagreed with a couple of points, and made my comments accordingly.  To make a long story short, the guy was apparently mortally offended.  He called me a self-seeking monster, which to me says:  A)  His English isn’t very good, and B)  He was threatened by me in some way and was incapable of carrying on an intelligent debate without resorting to name-calling.  Now, he was from a place where women do not speak up to their men, so there was a lot of that “How dare you presume to speak to your betters that way?” in his responses.  Once he resorted to name-calling, however, I ended the conversation.  I told him I would not be continuing with it, as there isn’t much point.

I really will never understand why men think they’re so much better than a women in the first place.  If we weren’t fully capable, there would be no female doctors, lawyers, or fighter pilots.  We’ve proven through time that we are quite capable of doing pretty much anything, particularly anything involving use of the brain.  We don’t usually have the brawn to do certain things, unless we really work at it, but that’s part of life.  Men can’t have babies, so we’re even.

Back to my point, however.  This person continues to try to argue with me, despite my statement that I would no longer be posting comments to him.  He’s written three comments towards me since then, and as insulting as they might be I actually am not bothered by them.  It’s that old, “Look where it’s coming from,” kind of thing.  He obviously wanted to have the last word, which is a compulsion I share to some extent, but I also know the futility of it.  I actually learned how to let go of an argument during my last marriage, as there really isn’t any way to win.  Even if you make your point, both parties still feel bad.

In my experience with this man’s culture, I’ve noticed a tendency toward belligerence in the males, which I presume is due to their belief that they’re superior to women, and are the supreme beings on this planet.  There’s also an argumentative/confrontational attitude, which I have to wonder about.  Maybe I’m wrong, but in this culture there is a lot of arguing just in their daily life, so maybe that’s where it comes from.  They don’t go to a grocery store, the way we do in North America.  They go to marketplaces and haggle with the proprietors over the price.  Every time they buy anything there’s a negotiation, and I find that they seem to enjoy it, so maybe it’s nothing more than a habit to them.

I’m used to seeing a price tag, and paying accordingly.  Occasionally there’s a reason to haggle, such as damage to the merchandise, or the manager gives you a deal because the salesperson was rude to you, but it’s not how we normally conduct our day-to-day business.  People who negotiate and “do deals” are working in corporate mergers and acquisitions, that sort of thing.  You can haggle over the price of a car or a house, but the negotiations are usually conducted civilly, or through a representative.  There are no insults exchanged.  Hell, if a salesperson is rude to you, you go to a different dealership or agent.

No, an argument is not the same thing as haggling here.  You might insult the quality of someone’s grapes, or talk about the rust on the car to get the price down, but you don’t usually insult them personally.  From my understanding of this other culture, however, insults are traded with amazing regularity.  I’m not saying it’s a bad culture.  I’m saying it’s different.

The funny thing is, my daughter and I have that kind of relationship where we trade insults, and neither of us takes it seriously.  We call each other a bitch rather frequently, but we both consider that a compliment.  All that means to us is that we don’t let others walk all over us.  She actually wears a shirt that says, “If you think I’m a bitch, you should meet my mother”.  I thought it was hilarious.  We have a comfort level between us that allows for that kind of thing, but it’s also very rare.  Her friends have commented on how great our relationship is, which makes me feel pretty good.  We spend a lot of time together, and we don’t fight very often.  Once a year maybe?  Even then it doesn’t tend to last very long, and it’s not particularly bad.

Even considering my relationship with my daughter, and the whole trading of insults that we do, we only do that because we can.  I can’t imagine insulting someone I’ve never met.  Sure, if you live in NYC you might flip the bird to a cab driver who came close to running you over, but I doubt most people would feel comfortable personally insulting someone who hasn’t done anything to them.  I’ve known people who do, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.

Who knows?  Maybe we Canadians really are nicer than I thought.  I always thought that was bullshit, since I never considered myself to be particularly nice.  I don’t take other people’s bullshit, I don’t let myself get walked on or taken advantage of, and I’m pretty damn blunt about things.  Then again, I’m also perfectly capable of carrying on a conversation with someone, without resorting to name-calling or swearing.

It’s not that I don’t swear, because I swear a lot.  My ex said I had the mouth of a truck driver, and he’s right.  I don’t apologize for it either.  Still, when I’m in a setting where I should show a little decorum, I don’t swear at all.  People I used to work with were shocked when I mentioned how much I swear.  Not one of them had ever heard me use profanity.  When I write I’ll use the occasional word that might be considered vulgar, just to make a specific impact with something I’m saying, but it’s entirely intentional.  Normally I write without the profanity.  You lose the respect of your readers otherwise, and no longer sound like someone who knows what they’re talking about.  You sound illiterate and uneducated.

My ex used to have me deal with volatile situations for him, because he would always get furious and someone would wind up calling the police because he was swearing and being verbally abusive.  He’s also a big guy, so he’s physically intimidating to people who don’t know him.  One of my best skills is cutting people down to size verbally, without ever having to swear at them or insult them.  If I did insult someone, it was more by talking down to them.  I’m not a snob when it comes to money, but I have an extensive vocabulary and I’m not afraid to use it.

This was a technique I was very fond of using with my first husband.  He wasn’t all that bright, and when I was mad I’d start using words he didn’t understand.  He could scream and throw tantrums if he wanted, but he’d always lose the fight because he no longer understood what I was saying.  Beside, losing your temper in a fight means you’ve already lost the fight.  You just don’t know it yet.

So, what’s my point?  Well, this is a blog so I don’t really need one, but I do have one.  The point is, there is no point to arguing with someone who isn’t able to debate an issue without name-calling. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fight with a spouse, your neighbour who planted his tree too close to your fence, or someone on the internet that disagrees with you.  There is no logic to the argument anymore, and you can’t fight against illogical people.  No argument will ever be good enough to change their minds.

Of course, the reverse is true, as well.  Once someone insults me, they’ve lost the ability to change my mind.

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