Monday, August 21, 2006

Sound advice

This comes from an exchange in the comments section in the blog by the excellent Toasted Suzy, but has I feel universal application; hence, the repost.

Write to learn, not to "Put the Smack down" on people. Write to communicate, not to win.

...And, above all, don't be an asshole. If you really want people to listen to what you have to say, know what you are talking about, say it clearly, so that your intended audience can understand, and say it in a way that makes people want to listen to you.

If it's the choir you're preaching at, then you can go ahead and keep saying the same pre-packaged phrases over and over again. If you want to change the way people think, you'll have to establish common ground. Addressing them as your intellectual inferiors is not the way to do this--especially if they are clearly not intellectually inferior to you.

Try a problem solution approach to argumentaion, rather than choosing a side. It is less combative and, more importantly, it is less likely to lead you into making absolute statements.

...The people you are talking to--all of them--have real feelings and those feelings DO matter. Sometimes it is those feelings alone that will determine the course of the conversation.


And just for final roundness, ladies and germs, the key point here, once again:

And, above all, don't be an asshole.


belledame222 said...

...and you know what else was really cool in there? He apologized. Then she accepted, and apologized herself. Then he accepted. Wacky, I know, but sometimes that's -just so crazy it might work.-

Cheryl said...

"Don't be an asshole." Difficult to achieve when there are so many asshole role models out there in the public domain.

I'll try.

belledame222 said...

All any of us can do, m'dear. All any of us can do.

Alon Levy said...

I think I'm going to make that excerpt my personal piece of scripture, instead of the Gospel of the FSM.

Off-topic, I hate to spam, but I have a new blog.

Anastasia said...

"If you want to change the way people think, you'll have to establish common ground."

I don't know about y'all, but I sometimes find this one can be hard to practice, especially when I'm passionate about the subject matter. I do strive for it and kick myself when I fail, but it's easy to get angry and start taking sides.

Sage said...

I think the common ground think is key. In order to get anywhere, instead of barking "white" to someone's "black", it's much more effective to start with "dark gray" and work from there.

(There are no intentional racial overtones in the above statement, just so we're clear. It's just an example.)

Kim said...

This is GREAT, Belle! Applauding!

Also, your boyfriends (heh) are up on a YouTube link on my post today.
"Baby. Jesus."

gandhi rules said...

nice belle. I like.

Amber said...

I totally agree with that sentiment, and yet I still appreciate that often blogs are just for ranting. This can vary from blog to blog, or even post to post. Sometimes I write a post where I'm trying to clearly convey a thought or idea, or trying to explain my viewpoint on an issue, or what-have-you. And sometimes I am just fucking ranting. That doesn't mean everyone has to agree with my rant - but they need to recognize it for what it is: a rant, not a carefully crafted critique (alliteration!) on Issue X.

But I think that's sort of the beauty of blogs.

Veronica said...

It doesn't matter what I do, someone out there is gonna decide I'm an asshole.

Then again, I've got no issue apologizing, either. I also don't assume that I've ever effectively changed a mind in any really important way via blogging, either.

spotted elephant said...

This post is exactly what I needed to read right now. For having the nerve to say I respect Renegade Evolution, I have been labeled a hypocrite and a white picket fence feminist. And the woman who said awful things about RenEv never would own up to her hate.

I tried so hard to be polite, to be assertive rather than aggressive, but I called someone out on her misogyny and there was no way she was going to respond well. I can't even file this under "pick your battles", because something had to be said-her comments couldn't just stand.

Off now to try to get this picket fence out of my ass!

Bitch | Lab said...

SE ? What is a white picket fence feminist???

spotted elephant said...

I think "white picket fence feminist" is a white middle class woman who dabbles in feminism-does just enough to increase her own privilege.

Now, I'm not sure of that, I've seen the term thrown around and had to deduce the definition.

Clampett said...

My initial gripe with TS was her behavior at another blog.

There, she was being a snake in the grass, saying that her intelligence was insulted while hedging out the ass and trying to discredit people.

I thought she was shadowboxing with a clarion pen and employing the smokescreens of feigned ignorance and calculated hypersensitivity.

I was attacking what I perceived as concepts of elitism.

Besides being a bad writer off the bat, I attacked in the fashion of an arrogant college freshman.

I figured that approach would be the most infuriating…something only an asshole would figure.

But, I was wrong about TS. .

Her quick and polite acceptance of my apology affirmed that.

TS taught me to put more effort into judgment.

Although our exchange was bitter, the lesson was sweet.

Hattie said...

Your blog looks great. I'm going to do some reading around right now.
I delete some posters. But not for disagreeing with me.
I delete them for using foul language, ad hominem attacks, threats of physical violence, things like that.
I never had more than an occasional problem with bad comments until I did some postings on the Ramsey case. I suggested there might be a pedophile ring involved. Maybe someone thinks I know something. I actually don't but isn't this interesting.
Having trouble with the word verification. Apologies in advance if this posts more than once.

ToastedSuzy said...

The other blog(s) to which Clampett is referring are Professor Zero (her post "Plagiarizing Grandma") and Why Am I Not Surprised, (changeseeker's post "required reading for...[something something--I can't remember, and my computer is being stupid]).

And since I'm here and all flattered and full of myself, I'm compelled to mention that I've written another post on "assholery" at

It's silly, but silliness is all I've really got that's worth a shit anymore. Silliness and snideness.


Clampett said...

Yes, TS I was admitting to both snideness and silly-ness

They are among some of my bad habits.

My assumptions about your behavior were false.

'snake in the grass, etc....bullshit on my part.

ToastedSuzy said...

I wasn't just being defensive, Clampett. I was shamelessly promoting myself.

Love you,


Cassandra Says said...

Thank you for posting this. I think that we're all tempted to resort to sarcasm, namecalling etc sometimes when arguing with people, but as a strategy for actually changing people's minds it's not really very helpful. In fact, I'd argue that the language we use as leftists is probably our single biggest Achilles heel. The tendency toward academic jargon, terms only understood by our own in-groups etc is very effective when speaking to allies but completely ineffective when speaking to anyone else, and can also come across as very condescending, even when we don't mean it to be.

Clampett said...

See, I think this: "changing people's minds" is one of the most immoral things a person can do.

I'd much rather unapologetically announce my opinion and have somebody listen or not...that's their right as a dignified human being.

I hate those who play the E. L. Bernays. I rebuke them as (pardon my François) Mindfuckers.

belledame222 said...

Well, ultimately we none of us -can- actually "change anyone's mind;" there are only more or less effective and/or honest methods of persuasion.

Which is ultimately what people are trying to do when they communicate anything at all; even if what they want to persuade the other person to do is no more than "listen to me, what I have to say is worth your time."

antiprincess said...

hijack - yay! you're back!

mandos said...

Twisty hath launchèd another salvo. Just when thou thoughtest she waren down.

belledame222 said...

"is that all there is...

is that all there is...

if that's all there is, my friend,

then let's keep daaaaanciiiing...."

belledame222 said...

...yeah. radical feminism may or may not be worth the passion and energy spent refuting it; then again one could justifably I think say much the same wrt sports corsets, high heels, voluntary blowjobs, the Spice Girls, individuals having children (particularly divorced from any other context such as actual resources being consumed and the inequities of same), other peoples' amusingly inept grammar and plebian tastes in matters culinary, and so on, and so on, and so on.

well, whatever gets you through the night.

Clampett said...

"Well, ultimately we none of us -can- actually "change anyone's mind;" there are only more or less effective and/or honest methods of persuasion.

Which is ultimately what people are trying to do when they communicate anything at all; even if what they want to persuade the other person to do is no more than "listen to me, what I have to say is worth your time."

Valid points.

Perhaps my hatred (strong word, annoyance is more accurate) of the E.L Bernays groupie is their elitist attitude towards people.

I sense thier ideas of superiority are manifest in seeing the people they persuade as irresponsible idiots; fractions of people who need their platonic guardianship before they can be a full person. I sense a sadism there.

I'm just like: only the creator can Judge, stop being so oneuppity (I am quite Socratic when it comes to knowing what I don’t know) .


I read some of twisty's work.

As a Guy, I felt slighted, but not really…It was more, If you are going to blame the patriarchy for everything, then why bother with rubbing it in?

I don’t know, that was probably my void of knowledge about what real equality between men and women is supposed to look like, as a guy raised in this society.

I can't tell the difference between the abuse of radical feminism as a way to increase the privilege of women, to one-up men (sinking ships and divorce courts come to mind) and a legitimate examination of how women are made less than human, double-blinded and generally viewed as chattel by Society, even by themselves.

I've had sex used as a weapon against me, but I sense that's just my sexist views blinding me to the idea that women have a choice over their bodies and lives, a choice that involves..teasing as a way to gain leverage .

It pisses me off, but I know is totally legit for a woman to do, it's her body, not mine.

What’s a good start for understanding here?

belledame222 said...

> If you are going to blame the patriarchy for everything, then why bother with rubbing it in?

well, yes, that's some of us others' problem as well.

it's not just the patriarchy (abstract notion) or even guys that receive the brunt of this sort of "critique," you see. in point of fact.

i don't actually know who E.L. Bernays is.

>What’s a good start for understanding here?

Can you be more specific?

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Clampett said...


specification: Learning to discern between legitimate critique of oppression towards women and analysis who has gone too far.

BUt I'm a bit shaken right now, TS really hurt my feelings, but I guess that's ok if she thought I was being threatening, a damaging misunderstanding in terms of my ability to think right now.

Oh, E.L Bernays is one of the Key figures in creating the PR industry, he was freud's cousin.

Google him, his story is fascinating, he is evidence that Ferraire (sic)(the guy who wrote the pedagogy of the oppressed) is a genius.