this is exactly how not to argue a point
Sometimes people do mean things to me. Very mean things, like making me read passages by pontificators who have the intellectual depth of the shallow end of the kiddy pool. In this case, I’m talking about Dinesh D’Souza, the pundit who went off the deep end in arguing that showers of missiles from killer drones across the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa in a campaign to kill those deemed a threat to the United States and its allies were signs of a president who is trying to curtail America so he can avenge the colonization of Kenya. Of course this is prime Tea Party territory so I am using the term “went off the deep end” from a different perspective, you know, the one that has trouble seeing a global drone war as a sign of limiting the nation’s reach, and his political wingnuttery isn’t going to be the focus of this post. Instead I want to use a chapter in his opus on Christianity and its supposed superiority to science and skepticism as an example of how not to make and defend a point. Listen, I had to suffer through it and I don’t like to suffer in silence or alone. And besides, you can use this as ammo in a debate so there’s an upside.
When opining why those who live in religious nations have more children on average than those who live in more secular states, he dances and dances around the point he wants to make, but he basically posits that atheists don’t love their children as much as the faithful, which is why the birth rate is lower for them. You see, according to him, the faithful love children as gifts from God while atheists, primed to think about humans as just animate flesh, see them as more of a needy burden necessary for the continuation of the species. Aside from being mindlessly insulting and obviously pulled out of someone’s lower descending colon, it’s not even a new argument. He all but plagiarizes Bill Donohue’s foaming-at-the-mouth declarations on the subject, wrapping name-calling in the typical eloquence with which pseudointellectuals like to lard their talking points. And just to make the insult even dumber, he acknowledges all the reasons why birth rates are falling all over the world with modern medicine and education, and counters them by saying… that they’re not enough to explain the discrepancies he brings up. Oh my dear sweet FSM. He’s not only a twit, he’s also a lazy twit. He’s done the same exact thing when looking for an afterlife!
This is like you making a claim that you were abducted by a UFO, patiently listening as to why it would be extremely improbable for you to be abducted by alien life forms, then responding with “yes, of course this is improbable, but as I was saying, when I was abducted by the Greys…” as if nothing was just said to counter your assertions. How does this guy become and president of a college? How does he have publishing deal? How much can you fail upwards? If he really is one of the key faces of conservative intellectualism as he’s been praised many times over, I can only weep for conservative intellectuals who are now being mentioned in the same breath with an ad hominem slinging slacker who cannot be bothered to defend his points with anything other than arguments by assertion. Hitchens made his share of conservative treatises and though I had an extremely hard time agreeing with a lot of the points he made, he did have solid reasoning for the opinions he held and I wanted to find out why he thought what he thought. You could see a logic behind his conclusions, which is something to be praised and respected.
When someone hands me a book by D’Souza, they’re giving me a tome of overwrought insults and clichés that are not even defended by their author with anything beyond his typical smug self-confidence. As with S.E. Cupp, there’s nothing to debate because the very argument is just utter garbage built on strawmen and hatred for those with different views. So when I was given a chapter of his to read following a conversation about why human populations should drop over the next several decades and asked for my opinion, I said that I was insulted and that there are much, much better books out there on the question of population growth, books that don’t just wave off facts and take a chapter to verbally defecate on those who don’t think alike when they could’ve accomplished that feat in a few sentences. And added that I would like to send my very sincere condolences to the students of the college where this intellectual zero is a president by virtue of having a good vocabulary in which to veil his vapid musings…