L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 885, August 14, 2016
The Roadhouse Rules of Engagement
by Sean Gangol
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
As much as I hate Bill O‘Reilly, there are times where I at least understand how he feels. I have always given O‘Reilly flack for the way that he tries to win an argument by shouting down his opponent, but there are times I can understand why he does that. Especially when you have an opponent that won‘t listen. Hell, forget O‘Reilly. There are times when I feel like that Sam Kinison character from the movie, Back to School before he is about to go off on some bubble headed student.
One of my biggest pet-peeves is the willful ignorance that I encounter on a regular basis when it comes to basic economics. I don‘t expect everybody to have the same grip on economics as Thomas Sowell or Murray Rothbard. My own knowledge of economics is at best rudimentary. Still I have always thought that it is important to understand some of the basics, so you will know how certain aspects of the world actually work.
If I try to explain to some Social Justice Warrior why raising a Mc Donald‘s worker‘s salary from seven twenty-five to fifteen dollars an hour is a bad idea, they assume it‘s because I am a heartless elitist that hates the poor. It isn‘t because I know that raising a worker‘s salary to something that is three or four times more then what the burgers are actually worth is going to lead to fewer workers being employed and a rise in the cost of those burgers. To me it‘s not just a case of basic economics, but a case of basic math. Also, they seem to forget that the whole novelty behind fast food is that it is cheap. Once you cause the food to go up in price, fewer people will buy it, which means less hours for the few workers that they are able to employ. Yet, it is people like me who are setting out to screw the “The Little Guy.”
Then there are the third wave feminists who complain about the non- existent gender wage gap. It always takes great restraint not to go full blown Kinison on their asses. Whenever you try to point out that this has much to do with the fact that women typically go into jobs that pay less than the ones that men go into, you are either ignored or called a lying misogynist. Then of course there is a gap as Thomas Sowell pointed out, between single women without children and married women with children. Single women make about as much as the men do, while married women with children usually make less because they usually don‘t put in the same number of hours as men and single women do because they usually want to spend more time with their children. If you ever try to point this out to a member of the third wave, they will just put their fingers in their ears and yell “No, no, it‘s misogyny, I tell you. It‘s misogyny.”
The same actually goes for prohibitionists on both sides of the political spectrum who cling onto their misguided beliefs that they can actually stop people from getting their hands on whatever forbidden fruit that they desire whether it‘s illegal drugs, sex, booze or guns. As I have written before, my great grandfather was the one who figured out that the basic economic rule of supply and demand is what made the misguided War on Booze profitable for the criminal element and is continuing to do the same with all the other forms of prohibition. Yet the prohibitionists still have to keep doing the same thing over and over again, only to get the same results every time. This is basically how Albert Einstein defined insanity.
Some would tell me that I am basically wasting my time arguing with idiots who are never going to get the point. Although what people don‘t realize is that the object of an ideological debate isn‘t to try to change the mine of your opponent. Chances are you won‘t be able to do that. The people that you are trying to convince are the fence sitters and the undecided. In order to convince the undecided you have to be composed, but not too afraid of being aggressive in order to get your message across.
I remember seeing in an online video made by libertarian YouTuber Shane Killian that was titled “How to Argue for Statism: Why We‘re Rude to You” (based on an article written by Christopher Cantwell). One of the reasons that Killian cited for why libertarians are so rude is because ridicule works. He says that nobody remembers the nice guy in the debate. There is some truth to this. If you aren‘t aggressive with your ideas, then nobody will remember them. The real trick is to show the right balance between civility and aggressiveness.
If I were to start off going full blown O‘Reilly on somebody, nobody would remember my arguments in that situation either. All they would remember is that I was a complete jerk to the opposition. It reminds me of a YouTube video shown by libertarian activist, Adam Kokesh, which had a Christian protestor being shouted at by an atheist who was attending The Reason Rally in Washington. Granted, the Christian protestor wasn‘t the brightest of all men, since the only response that he could give his atheist opponent was to repeat the same Bible verses over and over again. Still, I thought the atheist‘s behavior towards the man was appalling and it made me wonder what the hell was being accomplished by yelling in the poor man‘s face. I‘m pretty sure the man didn‘t go home and say “Wow! That atheist yelled in my face. I better rethink my worldview.” I am also welling to bet that you probably had many members of the undecided that said “My God! That atheist was so mean to that Christian. Are all atheists like this?” Then of course you don‘t want to go full Kinison either because nobody pays attention to the message of a crazy man. It‘s like what the Rodney Dangerfield character said in Back to School. “He really cares. About what, I have no idea.”
I have decided to create something, which I like to call “The Roadhouse Rules of Engagement.” For those who may not remember, Roadhouse was a 1989 classic (it is to me) that stared the late Patrick Swayze. It is my second favorite Swayze movie after Red Dawn. In Roadhouse Swayze plays a Cooler, a person that cleans up bars that have had trouble keeping order among their patrons. My favorite scene in the movie was when he was training a group of bouncers about the rules of engagement when dealing with unruly patrons. He tells them to start off by being nice. They are to continue being nice up until the point where they have to stop being nice. I believe the same rules should apply to a debate. The only thing is that you are not going to have a Patrick Swayze character to tell you when you should stop being nice. That is something that you are going to have to figure out for yourself. Though I usually stop being nice when my opponents resort to ad hominin attacks. As Shane Killian pointed out, another reason why libertarians are so rude is usually because their opponents were rude to them first. Though I still recommend that you conduct your counter attacks in a calm demeanor. Don‘t make it seem as if your opponent‘s attacks have upset you in any way. Make it seem as if you are unimpressed with his ad hominin attacks and usually that person will quickly back off knowing that his petty insults are having no effect on you. People who resort to ad hominin attacks usually don‘t have much substance to offer in a debate in the first place.
So basically, you have to be aggressive in getting your ideas across, but you have to do so in a way that you don‘t come off as a total ass or a maniac, which is something that requires a balancing act. You also have to know when to stop being nice to your opponent, which is even more challenging. That is the line you have to walk when you try to win in the marketplace of ideas.
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