Sunday, March 04, 2012

A Well-Timed Interruption

Prompted by a quoted statement by my wife's recently departed grandfather,
I've only made two mistakes in my life, and both of them were voting for George Bush,
Another relative sighed and started to lecture me (not because I presented the quote, but because I was the closest target),
You know, it's amazing how far our nation has gone from following the Constitution.
Fortunately she was pulled away by something on the other side of the room, because you know where that type of statement is heading....

I have a huge disadvantage in trying to discuss that type of statement with its typical proponent because, unlike them, I have actually read the Constitution. Yes, you can find a lot to criticize in any given session of Congress or presidency about how the individual or institution approaches the Constitution but, you know, facts?

I had an uncle complain a while back as part of an anti-union missive that public school teachers are paid too well, using as his chief example a school teacher in his neighborhood who had a new car and explained that he just became a principal and got a big increase in his income. I pointed out that principals are administrators, and thus aren't in the union. "I knew that." (So the relevance of your anecdote to your point was... what?)

It's not necessarily easier to change somebody's mind if they know the facts, if that's what you hope to do, but at least you can have a conversation.


  1. "It's not necessarily easier to change somebody's mind if they know the facts, if that's what you hope to do, but at least you can have a conversation."

    I'm inclined to disagree. By way of argument I give you any number of "attempted and failed" conversations with various ideologues during law school . . . the key to having a conversation is finding someone willing to listen and think about what you are saying before they respond (not necessarily agree – but take it into account) . . . you can give someone “the facts” about a topic of conversation, you can’t make them listen or think . . .


  2. By "give somebody the facts", you appear to mean that you share factual information with a person who does not yet know the facts. That's the type of person I was talking about - somebody who has strong opinions formed in ignorance of the facts - and yes, there were a lot of them in law school. Including a few professors, as I recall.

    You're more likely to have a decent conversation with somebody who knows the facts - where you have a shared framework of the essential facts - even if you still come to different conclusions.


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