-By Warner Todd Huston
Dennis Prager is fond of saying he’ll take clarity over agreement any day and that is a good phrase to keep in mind when you open your big mouth to join the debate. In keeping with the quest for intelligent dialog, here is a list of ten things that I think we should all stop saying because it makes those who indulge in them look, well, stupid.
1). “That’s just your opinion.”
Really? What else would it be? Who goes around blurting out everyone else’s opinion but never their own, anyway? Don’t say this because being captain obvious doesn’t make you look any smarter than the person you’re castigating for having an opinion with which you do not agree. Also, do not immediately reject things just because you think it is “an opinion” because at some point you are stating that nothing can be known or true and everything is “just an opinion.” This sort of sloppy thinking leads to reducing everything to a lie and, well, if that’s true, what’s the point of having a debate at all?
2). “There are far more important things to worry about.”
This is stupid, just stupid. Of course there are always more important things to worry about. Unfortunately, your saying so like this would rather imply that just about anything someone else is talking about is “not important” to you. In return, nothing you have to say will be looked upon as important to anyone else! And that’s a fitting reply to your foolishness, too. Saying this to people so often just reveals your arrogant opinion of yourself. Don’t say it. It makes you look like a jerk.
3). “Ya know what I mean?”
A verbal tick that you should immediately stop saying. “Ya know what I mean?”
4). “… everybody knows that…”
Uh, no, no they don’t. What ever it is, someone doesn’t know it.
5). “I do that (or say that) all the time.”
No, sometimes you are sleeping, driving to work, or eating. The only thing you do “all the time” is breathe. And one day you won’t even be doing that. Some may wish that day would come sooner rather than later.
6). “You’re just afraid…”
Of course, fear is a great motivator, but fear is not always the sole reason that people oppose something or someone. Sometimes there are real, philosophical reasons to oppose something instead of mere fear. If we don’t engage real ideological and philosophical principles there really is no way to logically advance a discussion.
7). “No offense, but…”
Why do you say “no offense” EVERY time you are about to insult someone? “No offense, but” you are an a-hole… “ya know what I mean?”
8). “You’re just jealous… secretly gay… you really just hate… You are just a secret racist…”
You are not a psychologist, so please do save your pop psyche diagnosis of someone’s else’s mental state for someone who cares (hint, that would be no one). If you don’t want to deal with what the person is saying then just shut up, ignore the person, and move on. Otherwise, assume that they are saying what they mean and respond in the same spirit.
9). Do not use curse words.
Really, don’t. It just makes you look like an illiterate, slack-jawed, knuckle-dragger that barely has enough firing synapses in his head to make an argument. Or it makes you look like a self-assumed rebel at which everyone else just rolls their eyes. Neither is becoming. Grow up and act like an adult.
10). And finally, stop assuming that when someone criticizes someone else they are really trying to force them to stop enjoying their freedom of speech. If I say the Dixie Chicks are idiotic, half-witted, anti-American, dipwads I may be saying that they are mental midgets but I am not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to speak their tiny little minds. In fact, if you tell someone to stop complaining about someone else’s political ideas, then YOU are the one trying to stop someone’s free speech. Or are you really so stupid that you didn’t realize that YOU are the killer of free speech here?
Yep, clarity is the enemy of stupidity. So, observe these fine rules and you’ll be smarter for it, we will all have less verbal diarrhea spewing out upon us, and we’ll get to the nub of the issue a bit faster.
Sadly, some people refuse to engage along these lines and mores the shame for it. For those, simply ignoring them would be ideal. Of course that may be why MSNBC has such low ratings!