Thursday, September 30, 2004

Theory of Arguments

There is always someone trying to convince us of something. Buy this, watch this, vote this way, stop at red lights, and on and on. Other than the 1% of the time, where there is some meat on the intellectual bone, I find a need to entertain myself while the blowhard winds rush by. To fill this need in part, I developed my Theory of Arguments. Just listen for the following phrases as a helpful guide to who is winning an argument.

1. "This is America"
Long used by politicians, this stance has broadened so much that it can now be used in virtually any situation. Witness my interaction at the U-Haul when I returned a pickup truck. I walked past a long line of people waiting to rent a truck, and realizing that my truck had to be processed very likely for one of the people waiting, and not wanting to be seen as cutting the line, I was as obvious as I could be about handing the keys to the attendant and then standing to the side. One tall wiry mulletted man of indeterminate age toward the back of the line decided to "call me on it" right then & there.

"Some people think they're entitled!" he said.

I ignored him.

"Some people think they are better than everyone!" He was really warming up now.

"Y'know, this is America and in AMERICA we wait in line!"

Oooh! He did it, right there in the U-Haul. By not waiting in line I had become a Commie bastard.

2. "Think of the children"
"Think of the children" supercedes "this is America." Every country in the world has children. Even people who dislike America probably like at least some children, plus of course, we were each a child once. As good social monkeys, aren't we all supposed to "think of the children?" Remember the song how children are our future? Remember all the late night infomercials pleading for just pennies a day to give some kid with nothing but low grade mud to eat some rice or something. Cue the violins.

Politician #1: You can't keep that in the budget! These cutbacks were voted in and this is America!

Politician #2: But this money funds a shelter for homeless one-eyed kids with bowl haircuts. Think of the children!

You see my point.

3. "For the love of G-d"
Lately, "for the love of G-d" seems to trump "think of the children" and "this is America." It may just be part of the weird religiosity that seems to pervade everything these days. It might be fear of upsetting an omnipotent being. Even atheists like to hedge their bets.

Returning to the U-Haul in example #1, if I had had this Theory of Arguments in place at that time, I could have decimated Mr. Mullet.

"This is America, and in AMERICA, we wait in line!" he said.

This time, I turn to face him and say, "Hey, you know, there are kids in here!"

Mr. Mullet looks up & down the line, embarrassed to be caught setting a bad example for the youth of today. If he were a smarter guy than he looked, he might have tried to co-opt my argument:

"Those kids need to learn that we take turns in America!" he says, cleverly incorporating "think of the children" right into his "this is America" position. Since we have both stated we are, in fact, thinking of the children, he is winning based on the remaining strength of "this is America." It's time for me to pull out the big guns.

"For the love of G-d!" I sigh, combining the world-weary eye roll with the small apologetic smile to the others on line. G-d is bigger than America, bigger than all the children lumped together, and may even be watching this very argument to see who sides with Him and who is a devil worshipping fashion faux pas. Victory is mine.

Finally, if you are using my Theory of Arguments to enhance your enjoyment of the political debates, remember to give extra points if the phrases themselves are used. Most often the arguments are hinted at or skirted around, but now that you know them I am sure you will recognize them. And remember to vote (#1). You are shaping the future of our country (#2). There is no more sacred mission (#3)!


At September 30, 2004 at 8:15 AM, Blogger Helen said...

Oh. My. G-d.

I can't recall a better constructed post in a long time. Bravo. Seriously. That was brilliant.

At September 30, 2004 at 10:59 AM, Blogger The Zero Boss said...

Right on!

The most annoying use of "think of the children" is when it's used to pass some sort of draconian legislation that's meant to curtail the freedom of adult Americans. Thanks, Washington, but would you mind leaving the job of child-rearing to the child-rearers?

Great post - I think I'll link to it later...

At October 1, 2004 at 3:43 AM, Blogger Lilly said...

Helen & The Zero Boss

I feel a little starstruck :> Thanks for encouraging a newbie blogger!

At October 5, 2004 at 11:40 AM, Blogger Martyr73 said...

Fantastic post...I couldn't help myself, I had to promote you on my blog. The permalink is:
I'll definitely be back to visit. Watch for your link on my Blogroll!

At October 10, 2004 at 4:06 PM, Blogger Doug Mc. said...

Brava! Well said (and words worth spreading, too. I've linked to your post on my blog as well).

- Doug

At October 10, 2004 at 7:12 PM, Blogger Internal Medicine Doctor said...

I did not link to you on my blog. Simply because it has nothing to do with my subject. However, let me congratulate you on a fantastic post. I will be back to ses what you are up to. I'm still laughing.

At October 14, 2005 at 6:59 AM, Blogger Couch Potato said...

Help me Dude, I'm lost.

I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw Elvis in the supermarket yesterday.

No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender".

He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a shiny, new plasmatv to go with that blue suede sofa of yours.

But Elvis said I, In the Ghetto nobody has a plasma tv .

Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger then I'm gonna go home and ask Michael Jackson to come round and watch that waaaay cool surfing scene in Apocalypse Now on my new plasma tv .

And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . .

"You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on "

Strange day or what? :-)

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