Debate Tips

From Gun Sense Rebuttals
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Social Media Tips

  • Don't make it about yourself and your feelings.
  • On social media, block people who direct insults and ad hominems at you. Reduce their ability to make you a target. Reduce their ability to participate in the discussion. Make sure the group knows why you're blocking them. Blocking abusers will discourage others from being abusive.
  • People making jokes about murder-- out them. It's important to broadcast their lack of caring for human life, to invalidate their claims that they support gun rights because they care about safety and protection.
  • In any group of gun supporters, there are some reasonable people. Part of your goal is to influence them. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by insulting them.
  • Don't participate in flame wars. Don't participate in drama.
  • Don't get all butt hurt. Don't whine about mean Fox newscasters. Take the upper ground. Don't make this about you. Don't make this a "drama of the day" situation. This issue requires deep, long-term strategy, not short-lived complaints.

General Debate Tips

(to-do: move facebook tips up to 'social media tips')

  • Be respectful.
  • Don't be divisive. Take a "Let's solve this together" approach, not "I'm right and you're wrong".
  • Don't get emotional. Stay calm.
  • Don't react to personal insults. Simply name them: "When you resort to personal insult, you're admitting you can't win on logic or facts."
  • Don't insult. Calmly stick to facts and logic.Insulting and abusing people is their tactic. Taking the high ground is more powerful.
  • Don't put labels on debaters, like "racist", "Right Wing", "Republican", "Gun Nut", etc.
  • Look for common ground.  CommonGround  Think of other debaters as your fellow Americans-- not evil gun nuts. Take the higher ground.
  • Don't be sarcastic. Don't be facetious. Say exactly what you mean. Be 100% sober, direct, and non-ironic. Sarcasm feels good, but undermines your objective:
    • Sarcasm and irony are easily misinterpreted, for the obvious reason that you're saying the opposite of what you actually mean.
    • You want to be quotable. Sarcasm, taken out of context, is not quotable.
    • Sarcasm is an insult. It's intended to express your disdain for your opponent.
  • Don't use understatement. Use the strong alternative. For example:
    • Don't say: "That doesn't seem like a great idea."
    • Say: "That seems like a very bad idea, because ..."
  • Stay on-topic. Don't get roped into debates about religion, health care, capitalism, political parties, politicians, etc.
  • Ask pointed questions which expose the flaw in their argument. Eg.,
    • Claim: "A good guy with a gun will stop a bad guy with a gun."
    • Retort: "Who decides who the good guys are? What if a bad guy believes he's a good guy?"
  • Repeat yourself. That is, in a discussion forum, when different posts make the same claim, respond with the same rebuttal. Be a broken record. Our strong responses must become ingrained in the mind of the public. That's how our message will sink the deceptions of the other side. (Note, this is different than the "don't repeat yourself" tip below, which refers to a single discussion thread).
  • Don't repeat yourself. That is, within a single discussion-thread, make your point. Don't keep remaking your point. It's kinda like-- in a fist-fight, when you strike the winning blow, there's no need to keep hitting. (Note, this is different than the "repeat yourself" tip above, which refers to separate discussion threads).
  • It's ok to not have the last word. Having the last word doesn't mean you won the debate-- making the strongest points wins the debate. Once you've won, and everyone knows you won, let the other side keep whining. No matter.