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Things not to do in political arguments on Facebook and the Internet

Brian FosdickEveryone has run into it. That one friend on Facebook who has some sort of major lapse in judgment and decides to post about how some politician can be likened to some sort of eldritch terror that is out to kill us all.
Most people with common sense would write this person off the same way you write off the crazy people in the plaza who tell you that your genitals are the tools of the devil and seek to enslave your mind. Others might actually agree with them.

As a person who has seen my fair share of ridiculous Facebook posts and been told to my face some ridiculous theories, I feel obligated at this point to lay out five things you shouldn’t do in political arguments with others if you don’t want to lose friends and look bad.


1. Don’t compare people to Hitler (Godwin’s Law)

I assumed this first basic rule would be a given but I have seen so many American politicians compared to Hitler that it actually boggles the mind. Regardless of what policies are put into place that you may not agree with, none of them will ever close to one of the most insane and atrocious men that ever existed.

You may not agree with what they say or the policies they input, but to even stretch your dislike to the point where you’re comparing them to the leader of the Nazi party is so degrading and ridiculous it will only serve to make you look like a fool. It suggests that you have no arguments, and are just relying on the emotional hot-button.

2. Slippery slope arguments are not your friend.

“If we do simple action X, then the world will end.” These arguments have been used for a long time, usually trying to connect a course of action with unintended consequences. In some cases can be reasonable, but most of the times are not. That is to say that while this argument may have some usage, telling your friends that gay marriage will lead to dog marriage might just get you a few funny looks.

3. Don’t use hate speech if you want to be taken seriously.

The way you speak around your friends is your business, but when it comes to talking about politics, no one wants to hear your racist, sexiest, or homophobic slurs. The way you feel about the group you’re discussing has no bearing on how you should refer to them. People will tune you out if you decide to start ripping out the hate speech to try to make your point. If you want to speak about a group of people, whether it be immigrants, homosexuals, or anything else, give them the necessary respect or people will not give you the respect of listening to you, and rightfully so.

4. Ad Hominem attacks indicate you have no argument.

This is the one I see come up most often in college debates and the one that dictates the most attention. No matter how you may feel about another person’s views, argue against the views, not the person. Calling other people useless or bringing their personal life and heritage in to play as a source of your argument is a sign of ignorance and weakness. If you need to pull a cheap stunt and try to massacre someone’s reputation instead of arguing against their opinions, all that say is that you’re afraid of their opinions. You are afraid to argue against what they’re saying and would rather argue against what they are.


5. Don’t quote info from sources that aren’t reliable.

This is more of a pet peeve than anything that will actually cause serious problems, but it’s still a valid piece of advice. When you want to quote a piece of information, make sure it’s not straight from the spin doctors at think tanks. If your information is from, that’s probably not the most reliable source for information unless you’re looking for something that’s only going to support your beliefs, regardless of whether or not they’re true.

You’re welcome to argue with each other in any way you want, but if you actively use any of the strategies I’ve mentioned in this article, consider how it makes you look. It might just save you some friends.

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