"I don't care if we're on the same side in this debate. Shut your pie hole!"

Think of an issue you feel strongly about–abortion, evolution, whether the Chicago Cubs will ever win the World Series, whatever–that you often find yourself engaging in debates on, or even just witnessing debates on.

Now think of persons ostensibly in your side who nevertheless say things in support of your side that probably help your opponents more than you; people who make you want to scream, “Okay, dude, I know we’re supposed to be on the same side here, but would you mind shutting the fuck up? Thanks!”

Now tell us what those issues are, and what the counterproductive arguments are.

I’ll start with abortion. I am pro-choice, mostly because I see abortion as often the least bad choice of several alternatives. But this morning I chanced to hear a friend of mine opine that aborting a fetus is no more significant than an appendectomy, and any woman who feels different is clearly a slave to her emotions, just as the patriarchy demands. Which made me want to yell, “Shut yor pie hole, moron! You’re not helping your side at all!”

Anybody else?

I am generally in favor of the state keeping its nose out of people’s sex lives, but I cringe when I see folks defending pedophilia and lobbying for the repeal of laws against adults having sex with children.

I’m often in the ironic position of being an agnostic who finds himself praying for badchad, Der Trihs and Valteron to have simultaneous internet connection issues when a religious debate thread is current in GD…

Jayjay, although the OP did mention “persons ostensibly on your side”, he concluded by asking for examples of counterproductive arguments. If people start naming other posters by name, I think this thread is going to be shut down pretty quick.

Thanks, MEBuckner. I am only interested in the arguments, not personalities, and I certainly didn’t want to start a fight amongst posters.

I had professor who kept inserting anti-Bush, anti-Republican comments into his lectures. The subject at hand? Microbiology. I still have no idea what the connection was between the current administration and, say, staphlococcal infections. Every time he did this it made me want to ask him not to be on my side anymore. It was inappropriate, unprofessional and made him look like an ass.

I’m on the fence about capital punishment, but I lean toward being in favor of it and it drives me crazy whenever someone trots out the old “deterrent” argument. Claiming that capital punishment deters crime is ridiculous (IMO), and hearing it always makes me wish that the person hadn’t said anything at all.

As per the OP, I, too, am prochoice. (Some would characterize me as “way out there” because when it comes to the legality thereof, I regard Roe v Wade as a compromise, not “our position”; my version of “our position” would be that the right is owned by pregnant women as well as by the doctors normally performing the procedure, and that the women themselves retain the right up until the moment of birth. Come to think if it, me, or at least “folks voicing my kind of opinions”, might make someone else’s list in this thread… )

The ones that make me want to shout “you aren’t helping!”:

• The “Kleenex” argument. It isn’t a baby, it isn’t human, it isn’t alive, it’s just tissue, there’s no issue, just like blowing your nose, expel and dispose. What ethical question? Anyone see an ethical question happening here? I sure don’t!

• The “Buy Into the Other Side’s Definitions” position. Oooh, well, if it were alive and human, this would be the killing of a living human, and that would be murder, but it isn’t alive or it isn’t human yet, and I’m ready to pit my philosophical arguments against your gory photographs.

C’mon. Can you think under your own power? The RTL folks say we are killing human life. We think abortion is a pregnant woman’s prerogative. We can’t explain why without trivializing what she’s doing? It’s OK that she has this option available to her because it’s not a heavy important thing that she does when she exercises it? Grow some boobs, or some balls or whatever. We think it’s far less morally OK to make someone stay pregnant involuntariy than to kill a human life (yes) that has no conscious experience worth speaking of (if any) and which can’t live on its own, so why don’t we just say so? Not to mention that we think for society as a whole it’s spectacularly more immoral to make women the victims of sexuality by stripping them of reproductive choices. You think we’ve got the moral high ground, then fucking ACT LIKE IT.
Other areas:

I’m a schizzy libber, opposed to forced psychiatric treatment and always trying to reeducate people about how they perceive or think about those of us who have been labeled “mentally ill”.

Arguments that make me want to shout “Get your ass back to the day room and go back to drinking decaffeinated coffee!” —

• Politically Correct —Ewww, someone said “crazy”, I’m offended. Someone said “nutcase”, I’m gonna protest. I’d really rather be called “person with bipolar disorder” because that’s the term used by a person in a white coat and an MD after his name when he forces me to take medication against my will and keeps me locked up because he has the authority to say I’m a danger to myself or others. I just hate it when people say “lunatic” or “fucking nuts” or call it a “looney bin”, those people just hurt my feelings so much when they don’t use the language used by the folks who have imposed this diagnosis on me, waaaah!

• SSI / SSD Whores —The only right that matters to me, bub, is the right to get a government paycheck, so they should make it easier to get a diagnosis of whatever mental state means that you can’t be expected to do anything and therefore need to be taken care of. The definitions of what constitutes “mental illness” need to be expanded so more of us can get in on this good thing, and they need to be quicker and broader in determining us to be incompetent, incapable, and without social responsibilities. If they take away some authorities and rights, no biggie, I mean who votes anyhow? And I wasn’t trying to leave my Shelter Program for Fucked Up Adults anyhow, they got good food and I never have to work, so as long as they let me wander off grounds to get a 40 oz and maybe score some reefer or some crank, I dont care if they say we don’t have the right to leave treatment, you folks are ruining the free party, man!

The perennial Mac versus PC debates — please tell these folks to go back to playing Marathon and stay the fuck out of platform-debate threads?

• PCs drool, mmkay? Everything Apple did was right and everything IBM (old days) or Microsoft (modern era) has ever done with the PC has been copy catted from the Mac and furthermore they did it wrong. If Steve says it, it’s true. If it’s a difference between a PC and a Mac, the difference is a quality diff that intrinsically favors the Mac. Intel sucks. Intel sucks because Motorola makes better chips. Intel sucks because it’s a CISC chip. Open Firmware rocks, BIOS sucks. Intel sucks because their chips are only 32-bit chips. Intel rocks but BIOS sucks because it’s klunky and vulnerable and old-fashioned, EFI rules.

• Old Macs drool, mmkay? Everything Mac-haters said about crappy silly toy Macs was totally true yesterday but the Mac of today is a superior machine. The 68K Mac sucked, only the PowerPC Mac with Open Firmware really puts the PC in its place, if I had to choose between a Quadra and a 386 I’d go with the 386 every time. Oh yeah, MacOS 9 was a piece of shit, useless, crashy, no command line, I would totally have rather run Windows 95 anyday, but OS X is something else and so innovative and cool. The Mac platform prior to the Intel version? Useless, I tell you! I can’t see any sane reason for owning one, since an XP box would give you a better experience with more performance at a better price, but now an Intel-based Mac, well you can run XP and Vista and Slackware and MacOS X on it and MacOS X really is the cat’s miaow, you know I hardly ever boot into XP unless it’s to run an XP-only app, but I never would’ve bought one of those stupid PowerPC Macs, so slow and you could only run PowerPC operating systems on them
Religion threads: No one, either in the atheist or the theist camp, tends to be on my side in any meaningful way (except for Zoe who seems to think along the same lines). For the most part all the theistic posters and all the atheistic posters are either contributing to a counterargument I’ve got to deal with or, more often, simply concentrate on each other and ignore me.

That’s weird, I had exactly the same thing happen with a microbiology professor. We aren’t talking a little bit either. The class would open and close exclusively about Bush with the middle only about half and half with other content. The class should have been called: “In a World of Germs, Why Bush is the Worst of All”.

I am agnostic and I dislike religious fundamentalists as much as anyone but I have a passionate hate for atheism. I get very upset when agnostics get lumped in with atheists because they aren’t the same at all to me. At the very least I find the very existence of the universe and its apparently incredible origin and inner workings to be a miracle by itself. I read physics and whatever else I can find because I do want to make sense of it all and there is already plenty of evidence that something really strange is going on for my thinking. Many atheists I know are close-minded, unimaginative, and seem to have a lack of curiosity about many of the grander thoughts about the universe and our place in it. We are born, we will, and then we die is a limited way of thinking in my book. I don’t know what we will find out in my lifetime but it doesn’t matter to me because it is all very interesting.

As an undergrad I took a course in “Speech”. It turned out to be about giving speeches, a la “Toastmaster” rather than enunciation and diction and whatnot (shoulda read the course descrip more carefully), but I stuck with it, figuring it couldn’t hurt.

The professor did social conservatism in the dour mode as 2/3 of his presentation of course content, formatting it as “asides” or “examples”.

He did not appreciate it when I did my “speech to instruct” on the topic “How to construct a water pipe”. I brought in some dried autumn leaves which I dubbed “Potential Oxidation Tissue, which I will henceforth refer to by the acronym P.O.T.”. Built one in front of them, describing the process, lit a bowl of leaves, toked and exhales to a round of applause.

I am a Christian who tends to take the Bible pretty literally, and thus find myself having strong doubts about the theory of evolution.

I wish people would stop trying to get Creationism, or Intelligent Design taught in schools either in addition to Evolution or in place of Evolution.

It DOES not help me to persuade people that I can be an ordinary person, even (theoretically) a scientist, when the literalist Christians are making waves trying to prevent the learning of evolution.

I’m a vegetarian and generally supportive of animal rights in the non-insane understanding of the term, and if the extremists would shut the hell up with the “a rat is a dog is a boy” rhetoric I would be very happy.

I tend to get pretty annoyed when people use words like “shrub”, “repugs”, and “pubbies” in debates about politics. The person using it comes off as immature and unable to look at the issues from an objective standpoint.

YES. Any time someone uses a derogatory term when talking about the “other side” it makes me cringe, as I know that “our side” has just lost serious points.

For example – and to piggyback a little bit on Shagnasty’s post – I know that an atheist/agnostic is not worth having in a debate the moment they call themselves a “recovering [insert organized religion of your choice]”. Most of the time I hear about “recovering Catholics,” and it makes me want to whack the person over the head with a monstrance.


I also hate the billboards that have a picture of a cigarette with the caption “Weapon of Mass Destruction.” The vast majority of people know that smoking is unhealthy, and everyone hates being nagged, so I don’t see how these billboards help anyone.

And while I’m not on the same side of the debate, I hate it when people write Microsoft as “Micro$oft.” (I prefer “μSoft.” That’s just clever.)

I feel strongly that what the U.S. is doing on internments and imprisonment and interrogation in the war on Terror is wrong.

But the comparison with Nazism? Equating the processes and procedures in place today to the Holocaust and the U.S. personnel to concentration camp guards et al. is ridiculous. I find myself spending much more energy and time explaining the substantial, differences in scope and morality IOW fighting my “side” - rather than fighting the real argument.

Why can’t it be awful and terrible in its own right – why do we need to bring the Nazi’s and the Holocaust into it at all?

Yep, this was the one I came in to post. I find pro-choice people who don’t grasp the difference between a 4 day old zygote and a full term infant just as infuriating as anti-choice people who don’t grasp the difference between a 4 day old zygote and a full term infant - that is, neural development happens gradually, and what’s OK ethically at one point, with a mindless clump of cells, is not OK later, with a creature capable of feeling pain and fear. And people who go even further and call for infanticide as a logical extension of abortion rights just make me go, “urg…you’re not helping, really you’re not. You **are **the “baby killers” the anti-choice folks are trying to paint us as!”
And now someone will come in to say the phrase “anti-choice” makes them cringe and wish the person using it would just stop talking now!

Yes, you can call me “baby killer”. I could quibble about the “baby” part but you’re right, the closer you get to full term, the less there is to quibble about.

I think people retain the right to cease being pregnant under pretty much all circumstances. (I could probably come up with a scenario where I’d say that right had been negated, but it would be convoluted). The fact that it may equate to killing babies in some cases is not, in my opinion, worse than forcing someone to remain pregnant. (But she has to make that heavy decision and live it once she’s made it).

As I said, I’m OK with Roe v Wade as a compromise. And as I also said, I don’t hide behind “It’s OK because it’s not killing / not human / not human life / etc”. I think it is a life or death decision. It happens to be a life or death decision that at every single phase of the pregnancy is best left with the pregnant person. The increasingly heavy nature of the decision does not, for me, constitute a valid argument for the state or any other party to step in and make the decision for her.

Actually, what I said was that those calling for infanticide (allowing the mother to kill a newborn, or sometimes a baby even up to a year old) are baby killers, not you.

As for all the rest, we’re generally in agreement. I think RvW is ludicrous law, but an acceptable compromise until we can actually get people to read and follow the Constitution. I think a woman’s pregnancy is her own business, I just think it gets ethically fuzzier the closer to term you get when the thing inside her more and more resembles a baby neurologically.

Oh, sorry!

Yes, I agree with what you just said.