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Really Bad Rhetorical Skills

Making shit up and telling people they said it is no way to argue.

A small and colorful calendar iconPosted on:July 25, 2023

You know, I’ve been arguing on the Internet for a long time. For a long time, I was really bad at it. But I’ve grown and learned, and now I think I’m pretty good at it. Maybe not as good as I think, but definitely better than I was.

There is one pattern that I used to be very guilty of, and that I still see it happen all the time. It’s been happening to me a lot lately, and I confess that I find it infuriating. It goes something like this:

Me: I think putting pineapple on pizza is really awful and yucky. Someone: So what you are saying is that you think people who put pineapple on pizza should be put to death. Me: Uhm, no I didn’t say that. You made that up. Someone: You need to express yourself better. Me: Uh, no, I think you need to stop making shit up and attributing it to me. Someone: We all know that saying pineapple on pizza is bad is just a dog whistle signal to the Bad Pizza People. Me: WTF are you talking about? Someone: Stop playing games. Stop being so sensitive.

And it happens constantly. There are so few people who actually know how to have a decent conversation. Rather than discuss, you know, the actual issue at hand, they just make it about what they think you are “really” saying and how you are saying it.

Other things I get are:

“You know you sound just like the Bad Pizza People when you talk like that”

or

“You are just carrying water for the Bad Pizza People.”

This is, frankly, really fucked up. It’s childish, and irritating, and a very poor display of rhetorical skills.

None of these responses actually make a case for why putting pineapple on pizza is good and should be encouraged. None of it advances anything. It’s a rare person that says:

“You know, I disagree. I think pineapple is great on pizza because <well thought out argument in favor of pineapple on pizza.>

It’s particularly infuriating when I end up being called the bad guy for having to constantly correct people, pointing out that what they are saying wrong and false and total bullshit and not what I am saying at all.

Or maybe it is all me. Maybe I don’t know what it is that I mean when I state my carefully considered views clearly and to the point. Maybe I really am intending to say something other than exactly what I do say, and that these other folks have a better insight into my own opinion than I do. That might be the case.

But probably not.