Three simple rules

Photo: Dominic Alves

The political “discourse” is making me sick. Here are three rules that apply to my blog and your comments — and ought to apply to any forum you participate in.

  1. Leave appearance out if it. Don’t criticize people for being fat, short, skinny, buxom, muscular, scrawny, blond, or old. Don’t draw attention to their baldness, their hairstyle, their race, or their disability. That’s not part of the discourse. For the most part, it’s not in their control anyway.
  2. Discuss what people say and do, not who they are. The validity of an argument doesn’t vary based on who’s making it. Judge content, not people.
  3. Enough with the whataboutism. If you did something wrong, and somebody else did too, what you did is still wrong. What Obama did with Loretta Lynch or Bill Maher said about orangutans or Mitt Romney said about the 47% are not justifications for anything that’s happening now — do you really want to argue that “I’m wrong but it’s ok because they were wrong, too?” The minute you say “Yeah, but what about . . . ” you’ve lost the argument.

And for Lord’s sake, admit that you’re wrong sometimes and the other guys have a good idea once in a while.


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  1. In regard to #3, I try to apply a simple maxim: “How would I feel if someone on my side did or said the same thing?”

  2. HEAR HEAR! This is one of the reasons I’m a committed reader and recommend this blog to anyone and everyone.

  3. Whataboutisms have caused me to withdraw from society. There rarely is a point-of-view on any topic that can’t be corroded with the words, “Well, what about…” As you point out, the argument is done. But by leaving the conversation, the other person considers my graceful exit their victory. I find that it is better not to engage them at all rather than leaving them with a false sense of “winning.”

  4. Whataboutism is often calling attention to the hypocrisy of those whose holier-than-thou attitude is really the source of the reaction. Being hypocritical doesn’t mean the criticism isn’t valid, though.

  5. Psychologically, whataboutism shares something with objecting to others’ views as “Politically Correct”, IMHO.

    The objection is not to the PC views (which are often just a call for good manners) but to the contrivance, the inauthenticity, the looking over your shoulder to see what your peers think before giving their opinion as your opinion.

    I think it can also come from feeling belittled and patronised by those on the other side criticising your side — they are putting you down so you pull them down.

    “We wouldn’t take sides if we knew the world was round.” Patricia Sun