Thoughts On Arguments

Last night over dinner, Josh and I discussed Joel Belz’s article on immigration. We wound up talking about it for quite some time, trying to decide what Belz meant, and what we think about his positions. It was a great conversation and helped us both to flesh out some of the nuances in the immigration issue and how we as Christians should respond to it.

Our discussion was fueled by the way Belz constructed his argument. He started with a hot-button issue, laid out his thoughts on the issue, and described what had led him to his conclusions. Initially, we were tempted to disagree with those conclusions, but by structuring his argument in a respectful and thoughtful way, Belz invited readers to calmly consider his points, which gave us a chance to think it over and understand where he was coming from without feeling insulted or condescended to.

I couldn’t help but contrast Belz’s take on the immigration debate with some of the recent posts on RedState. These bloggers are, for the most part, obviously erudite and articulate, but the posts, and more often the resulting comment threads, often devolve in to thinly veiled slams at the other side, or outright vicious attacks. I have to admit, the sarcasm and satire is funny, and these writers are sharp witted. However, I’ve often wondered how many minds they are really changing with that type of rhetoric (to be fair, the liberal blogs like Daily Kos are just as bad or worse). These arguments generally start out well by discussing the merits of a given issue and explaining why the blogger has come to his/her conclusions, but often the posts and comments then insert a zinger about how SOME PEOPLE are so stupid/lame/ugly/on crack for disagreeing with the blogger’s views on immigration/school choice/campaign finance or what have you. It’s the grown up version of making comments about people’s mamas.

One thing I really appreciate about the blogs I read is that in addition to learning about people, I am often challenged to think differently or more deeply about issues. Being the Type A person that I am (I know, you’re shocked), I tend to argue vehemently for my views and opinions, but in thinking about contrasting argument styles, I’m reminded that I need to make sure that my zeal doesn’t come at the expense of respect for readers who might disagree.

I do think about more than cooking and baby care, so perhaps I will implement my resolutions about respectful blogging and write more about other issues I care about too.

Onward and upward!

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