Monday, February 21, 2011

Rhetoric - Please be careful because I'm losing the ability to bite my tongue

This blog has been pretty quiet for a while. I have, for the most part, been pretty much self-censoring and while blogging about my kids can be a ton of fun, my 11 year old isn't really very much interested in having her life shared with the Intertubes. Preteens - who knew they were a handful?

I'm slowly losing my ability to self-censor and bite my tongue. I wander, pace, hem and haw each day about blog posts I should write. The topics of the world, thoughts on tech and the lovely world of politics both here and abroad. The is the life and THOUGHTS of a Midwest geek.

This caught my attention today. It has to do with the unrest in Wisconsin, my neighboring state. Before you become unglued and think this thought I'm gonna mention has anything to do with my picking sides, please stop yourself and read this. I'm not picking sides and if you accuse me of picking sides, I'll just call you an ass. It's my blog and I have the write to point out that you are an ass. Thanks.

Here's what I heard this morning on MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) while driving into work. I wish I had caught who said this but alas, I was driving and I missed that part. I think (actually I'm pretty sure) this guy is not a fan of the new governor. He said, and I quote "What the governor needs to understand is that this is a democracy and in a democracy you negotiate."

OK, I really don't care what side he's on but statements like this just piss me off. I hear statements follow this pattern, "The [Person I don't agree with] needs to understand that this is a democracy and in a democracy you [verb]" all the time.

Why does something this simple statement tick me off? Well it has to do with the fact that the word democracy is a word that has a definition. Believe it or not, that definition does not require the use of negotiations. There are two main types of democracy - direct and indirect. In a direct democracy, you vote on literally everything. We all vote to make decisions. In an indirect democracy, we elect representatives to cast a vote for us. One vote represents many people.

While negotiation can occur, it is not required of a democracy. Hell, we never have to discuss anything in a democracy. All that needs to occur is a vote.

This pisses me off because these types of statements sole purpose is to make the other person look bad/evil. It's literally a lie and akin to name calling, albeit less obviously so. While it could be said that in a civil society, we seek group consensus to make sure we are trampling over other people's ideas and beliefs, and to accomplish this we negotiate, but to say someone isn't playing well in a democratic society is just plain ignorant of the meaning of the word.


So maybe I'll take the gloves off once and while. I miss doing this. Rhetoric can be fun. Back in the day, I used to coach/judge public speaking. One subject I was very passionate about was the solid use of language, rhetoric and reason. Seriously, you want to beat someone soundly in a debate, point out these kinds of errors and soon enough, your opponent is spending all of their time trying desperately they have a real point to prove and not just hot air.

There's plenty of hot air today.


dmarks said...

In voting-style democracy, you don't have to compromise. At all.

In concensus style democracy (where everyone has to agree on something before it is passed), you DO have to compromise.

Checking the Constitutions of the US, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other states, we have voting-style democracy. Not concensus.

So, no need for compromise.