Editorialists often take a one-sided approach to discussions. I suppose this is not contemptible in context. They are supposed to identify a POV and put forth the clearest expression of it. Like an attorney arguing a case, their job is to present one side – let the other attorney provide the counterpoint. Artists sometimes present ambiguity, but more often it is a faux ambiguity – playing with the sighs and ponders and nods but coming down in the predetermined spot in the end; most often of all artists attempt to express one side as powerfully as possible.
Yet for the rest of us life is not quite so simple. One may side pretty strenuously with feminists in general and still know women who are no more than difficult personalities who have stumbled onto feminism as a convenient cudgel for the thrashing of parents or bosses or first husbands. All Christians know some brethren who they wish would just shut up, and some commonly-advanced arguments that are ludicrous. Few they are who cannot see any reason for going to war, nor any reason for staying out of it. Plus, we have people we like at least somewhat who see things quite differently. When we have these discussions we concede points (sometimes too readily in the cause of keeping a discussion friendly), or we hold back from full-throated expression of our conclusion that our opponent’s POV leads to the deaths of children.
Yet in the theater of debate, and certainly in online debate, we tend to the firmer expression of our ideas. I think that is entirely proper. But I think there is a limit. No quarter asked or given should only be acceptable when the consequences are dire, and this particular episode of the larger debate is actually going to affect anything. I write this because I am tired of reading people who are not trying to arrive at truth, but are only trying to win an argument - fastening on some smaller point where they think they can prevail or embarrass, misrepresenting what the opposition is saying, etc. Orwell has a nice quote about it.
The thing that strikes me more and more—and it strikes a lot of other people, too—is the extraordinary viciousness and dishonesty of political controversy in our time. I don't mean merely that controversies are acrimonious. They ought to be that when they are on serious subjects. I mean that almost nobody seems to feel that an opponent deserves a fair hearing or that the objective truth matters as long as you can score a neat debating point. (Italics mine)
I have a request. Someone find for me a recent non-liberal example of this – a moderate, or conservative, or libertarian writer or speaker who is not fighting fair in this fashion. I have a fresh example by a liberal, but I always have a fresh example by a liberal. When I search for examples of people I more-or-less agree with who are (likely willfully) overstating their case, I can find them easily in comments sections, but those are a suspect source: they might be trolls, or sock puppets, or simple provocateurs. Even if they are arguing sincerely, they might simply be fools and pigheaded. When I seek for bad examples from my own side(s), my mind shuts down too quickly, I think, gravitating to the points the writer made that were fair.
I am tired of reading people who should not be believed yet have a large audience. I imagine there are people who feel the same way about me. I know, I know, this audience is likely to have similar blind spots to my own. But not all, and certainly not exactly. If there are none, I will not put my own example forward.