Need Some Advice


Mark Benningfield
December 27, 2002, 01:44 AM
Hello All.

Okay, here's the deal: I'm going down to Dallas in February to CounterAttack 2003 to see if I can't learn a little bit about political activism and start shaking the trees a little. But:

My major problem in trying to get my message across is that I have little (make that zero) patience with dupes, dimwits, smallbrains, morons, and various other mobile spinal cords that for one reason or another have not developed the ability to reason coherently. Now, hopefully I can learn a great deal about the process of activism down in Big D, but how can I work on arguing with people who don't have the faintest clue how to argue honestly based on facts?

Now, some have told me that I need to identify with the person I'm speaking with, but, how do I identify with someone complaining that they keep stubbing their toes when they won't take off the blindfold? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

If you enjoyed reading about "Need Some Advice" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
December 27, 2002, 02:06 AM
Mike, you may know all this already, in which case please forgive me for stating the obvious. However, I'd like to suggest three points to focus on.

1. Communication is 93% non-verbal. We convey much more through our stance, eyes, facial expression, tone of voice, body language, even our clothing and hygiene, than we do through our words. If we have a physically aggressive attitude while arguing our case, the case will come across in a threatening manner, even though we don't intend this. In the same way, if we act like a wimp while trying to make a strong case for something, our case won't be very convincing...

2. Communication is not what is transmitted, but what is received. We all have "filters" through which communication is sifted before reaching our "intellectual response center". Some things will be red-rag-to-a-bull items to us, drawing forth an instant and very strong reaction. Others will be relatively mild, as in "Oh, really? (Yawn...)". We will also "hear" things in terms of our preconceptions. I'm sure you've seen this on TFL, and will see it here: someone makes a case for something that seems sensible and reasonable to them, only to be "flamed" by a respondent who has failed to analyze fully what they were saying. A "knee-jerk" reaction has been produced, instead of logical, rational, reasoned argument. For this reason, it's terribly important to make sure that what your listener "heard" is what you actually meant to convey. This is why, in many corporate and military situations, once orders are given, the recipients are required to repeat the orders back to the issuer, in order for him/her to be sure that his/her orders were clearly understood and accurately interpreted. I often do this in teaching sessions: teach the subject, then ask the class to repeat it back to me in their own words. It soon shows up my shortcomings as a teacher! :D

This is complicated even further because some words mean one thing in a given cultural context, and something completely different in another. Let me give you a couple of examples. In South Africa, where I come from, traffic lights are referred to as "robots". (Don't ask me why!!!) The first time I drove on U.S. roads, as a passenger with friends, I remember making some comment about "the robots suspended above the crossing". They immediately screeched to a stop, gaping up at the sky, trying desperately to see what they expected to be flying "robots", as in industrial computerized machinery! I had to explain... (blush!). Another case: let's say an Englishman calls someone "liberal". He will probably mean "generous". We in the USA, however, will almost universally take this to be a political designation.

3. Start at the foundation, and work upward from there. It's no good building an elaborate house if the foundation is badly laid, or completely missing: the house will soon collapse. In the same way, when debating with someone, make sure that the foundation is well and truly laid before proceeding to the next step(s). It's no good building a sterling case for the RKBA based upon the fact that the Second Amendment guarantees the individual right to KBA, if your listener then turns around and says "But the 2A does NOT guarantee an individual right at all!" Basically, everything you built on that foundation has been wasted. You really need to first define what the 2A says, then build on a foundation of common understanding and acceptance. Take it one step at a time, and build each step firmly.

Hope this helps... sorry if it's a bit verbose, but its the best I can do at this time of night! Off to bed now.

December 27, 2002, 08:31 AM

I'll grant you that it's frustrating to deal with people whose arguments are based on layers of faulty logic. As Preacherman said, I'd use your listening skills to detect some principles in what they say that are based on their reasoning ability and work from there.

For instance, you'll never "win" an argument with someone that says "guns are bad because my grandpa said so." You may have a chance with someone who says "guns are bad because they have no place in society."

Regards and take the high road.

December 27, 2002, 02:24 PM
Recognizing you don't feel comfortable with your powers of verbal persuasion shows me you have already won most of the battle:

If someone never closes their mouth, it's likely their mind isn't having a chance to work.

Patience and self-control are learned skills - just like being a good listener. In an en-masse confrontation I doubt you'll sway peoples' hearts if your physical presence shows you willing and ready to pound common sense into those you face.

If your curent thresholds to blowing a gasket are all you take from the convention, then you've learned a priceless lesson!

Offer to speak at a PFLAG meeting in your community. Offer to work at an AIDS hospice. Offer your services at a rape/suicide hotline. Mentor "at-risk" kids. Volunteer at the public community center.

These will give you new insights to base your homework apon - and put a personal face on "the gun culture" locally. You'll interact with the stereotypically "anti-gun" crowd on their home turf - and contribute with your entire being - not just the highlighted "gun nut" personnae.

Food for thought.



December 27, 2002, 04:53 PM
What is CounterAttack 2003?

Mark Benningfield
December 28, 2002, 12:56 AM
Hello All.


Here's a link:

Basically, it's a weekend seminar teaching political gun-rights activism. Around 300 or so involved political activists are going to be showing how to get started, what to do, etc. I figure it's a pretty good place to start.

Note to Trisha: Good advice, thanks.

If you enjoyed reading about "Need Some Advice" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!