Debating the Undebatable

For as long as he can remember, he loved to argue.

He wasn’t sure where this penchant for debate came from.

His mother had firmly held beliefs, but he had no recollection of her engaging others in a passionate discourse about politics or religion, or anything else for that matter. 

His father’s passions revolved primarily around a reclining chair by the fireplace, an after-work scotch on the rocks, and cigars.

He remembers a heated debate with a friend at a sleepover when he was just a kid.

They argued fervently about which baseball league (the National or American) had better players and teams. He remembers being energized by the back-and-forth discussion. He remembers the thrill of responding on-the-fly to his friend’s assertions, countering them with well-thought-out retorts.

That debate dragged into the early-morning hours. The warm stuffy bedroom became thick with a swampy August heat and the two boys’ passion for sports.

Eventually, he and his friend drifted off to sleep, no hard feelings, no carryover.

The arguer never put his love of debate to practical use. He lacked direction and parental guidance. In the absence of a nurturing nudge, his life was shaped primarily by the stance brothers (circum and happen).

Later in life, when jonesing for a debate, he’d engage others over social media, arguing with vigor and passion about politics and religion.

It was from 2016 onward, that the arguer noticed a fundamental change in some of the individuals he debated. Many of them disregarded verifiable facts and truth in favor of falsehoods and outright lies.

So, for example, when the arguer made a declarative statement about Trump supporters attacking the capital on January 6th, some of his friends took this as an invitation to debate.

They argued the attackers were not Trump supporters.

They argued that the attackers were tourists that posed no threat.

They argued against what everyone saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears.

It was stunning.

A basic premise of debate is that there are facts on both sides of the issue being argued.

The intellectual joy of debating comes from being challenged with factual information that counters your argument. The idea that you’ll be able to convince the person that you’re debating to change their mind (and vice versa) is what made debating so enjoyable to the arguer.

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work, is not a debatable statement.

On January 6th, the United States Capital was attacked by Trump supporters at the behest of the defeated former president. This also is not a debatable statement.

Climate change is real and poses a genuine threat to our planet. Again, not up for debate.

The point here is that some issues have been settled definitively by evidence, truth, and facts. But because old habits die hard, the arguer was drawn into debating the undebatable.

The result was exhausting, frustrating, depressing, and ultimately revelatory.

The arguer concluded that America is inundated with millions of willfully disingenuous people who are guided by politics over truth. These people are continuously debating the undebatable with falsehoods, misinformation, and quackery.

This represents a default way of thinking and arguing for nearly half the country, to the chagrin of the arguer.

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