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Hey, all you conservatives, listen up! How long are you going to demonize the opposition with purple epithets, unrestrained invective, and undisguised hatred?  Not that this same opposition doesn’t aim its own big guns – spewing epithets, invective, and hatred – at you, and in calibers even larger than your own.

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Just stop for a minute and consider. Howling at the moon in the middle of a pack of friends and like-thinking buddies is comforting.  It cements relationships, bonds the pack, and consolidates the base.  But that’s not all it does; it also tells the opposing pack that everything they stand for is wrong, that their intentions are evil, and that they are forever excluded from the circle of the brethren.

Do we really want to do this? Are we playing the right game? Is the kill-kill mentality our only gambit, or is there another, more productive way to go? Is venting our spleens doing any real good  for anyone or anything – other than relieving our spleens?  Not likely.

Is it possible that the game-play might be re-directed from the “damn you” plan to another that offers a chance to specifically debate defined issues? After all, it takes a lot of “spleen relief” to equal one single converted member of the opposition. So how much gorge must a conservative, or for that matter, a liberal, swallow in order to make such an approach possible? Is it necessary to bow down to the repugnant positions of our enemies and to abandon our heartfelt views? Not really, but first we should stop calling the opposition “enemies”; look at them as potential, if unlikely, friends. Nor do we need to give up our honest convictions, but those convictions ought to be exposed in such a way as to offer our adversaries some framework within which the rationale for what we believe – and the why – can be freely scrutinized and hopefully compared favorably with their own.

The way toward such an objective, in a game of win-win and not kill-kill, is to set up some specific criteria that can be mutually accepted. In doing so, we need to abandon the casuistry that pervades typical issue arguments (both the “in your face” and the “behind your back” kind.) This rather reprehensible technique has been used both politically and religiously over the centuries to carry points of view on the back of questionable and impenetrable reasoning – especially in regard to moral issues – so as to smother the opposition. Today’s issue debates are loaded, on both sides, with this kind of baggage. The Jesuits were once accused of such tactics, with their critics characterizing some of their arguments as esoteric, convoluted, and purposely ambiguous – like how to calculate the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. We have our own current version of this kind of argument as some moderns try to prove how many human beings can dance on the face of the earth.  The spinning out of unending details, conditions, eccentricities, and tortuous logic is as popular an approach to arguing issues today as it was yesterday.

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