Enough With the Strawman Arguments!

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“Strawmen, begone!” wrote the ineffable Ron Shepston in comments the other day, and I second that emotion.  Why just this morning I showed up bright and early at the Orange Juice office and you could hardly see the floor from all the straw that had been strewn about the night before.  I swept it up and carried it out back only to find that Art had contracted with a “baler” to cart our straw over to the Los Alamitos Racetrack stables, save the Ware Disposal folks a little work.  So I go back into the office hoping to blog, open the refrigerator, pour myself a glass, and *groan* straw in the juice even!  Enough already, people!

In case any of you missed the memo, a “strawman argument” is when you take your opponent’s argument to a ridiculous extreme, pretend they said something they didn’t say (i.e. create a “strawman”), and then spend the rest of your time knocking that strawman around.  Robin “Cook,” one of our favorite commenters, is one of the worst offenders.  Whenever we attack the idea of hanging religious slogans in council chambers, he pretends we’re advocating a “communist” or “socialist” government that prohibits all religious practice.  And whenever I criticize our war in Iraq and advocate getting out, he quickly accuses me of wanting to “give in to the terrorists,” no matter how much I argue that the Iraq misadventure is just hampering our fight against terrorism while creating more of them.

Lesser commenters like the ironically named “Great One” live and breathe straw.  Crtiticize a political demagogue for being unproductive and divisive on the immigration issue, and the Grate One and his ilk will be right there accusing us of wanting open borders and pushing for a Mexican “reconquista” of the Southwest US.

So let’s try to read past the titles of the posts, ladies and gents, and see what the writer is really saying.  There are more than two sides to each issue, but there usually are two EXTREMES, and here at the Juice, despite all our differences, most of us are hardly ever advocating one of the extremes.  Now before you jump in and say “Far Left Vern is trying to stifle debate on the Orange Juice,” take a deep breath and sing along with Ray Bolger:


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.