I find this particular “argument” particularly obnoxious because it’s not even based on anything resembling fact. It’s like the gremlin lovechild of ad hominem and tu quoque. It’s nothing more than accusing your opponent of something you happen to have imagined, and that makes it useless.
Can we please, at least, stop doing this? I know there’s an annoying problem with the tu quoques, and the endless hypocrisy tail-chasing, and such, but can we please not accuse each other of things done in our own imaginations? The people who do this are the equivalent of the person who yells at their spouse for cheating in a dream, except usually they don’t act like smug jerks the entire time! It’s shameful. And this is not, in any way, limited to one political party. I’ve seen the accusation “if it was Bush…” too many times to count, from both sides, to both sides. And that sentence fragment never, ever ends in anything even resembling a legitimate argument.
It’s a shitty way to get someone to see a different point of view, however, since at its core it’s condemning someone for a hypocrisy that they haven’t actually committed. People get very defensive when they’re accused of hypocrisy; they start looking for ways to refute the charge. When it turns out to be irrefutable, since it’s really an accusation against themselves in a hypothetical alternate universe, it just pisses people off.
There are effective ways to get people to see another point of view. This is never (or almost never) one of them.
A mime who breaks Omerta would be lucky to wind up under a tree before the rest of the mimes got to him. I’ve seen some terrible things done in the name of vengeance, but mime vengeance… is quite a fucking thing.
Hey, I never said it was an effective way to convey a different POV, just that that’s often what’s going on in this kind of “argument”. Me, personally? While I don’t mind a good-natured debate, and certainly like to think I at least try to look at things from the perspective of others, I don’t argue much at all. I’m more a “live and let live” kind of girl.
There are some legitimate times to do that though when the other side of argument is ignoring a reality other people do face. For example I like to ask people who think undocumented workers are horrible people what they’d do in the immigrant’s place if they had to choose between illegal immigration or not being able to feed their families, a choice many immigrants had to make.
It’s a great question because it greatly damages other people’s ability to demonize undocumented immigrants. They can’t hide behind “they’re evil law breaking scum!” anymore then they could demonize the mother who stole bread to feed her kid.