When you’re talking with somone who has something to hide more than they have something to say, one of the more common tactics they use to avoid that line of questioning that has the potential to reveal their argument as fundamentally flawed is to pose as a victim.
But it’s more than a mere agenda. It’s part of a philosophical paradigm that has to be engaged strategically in order to avoid a bogus perspective being given precedence over an objective evaluation of what’s true.
There is no “Right” or “Wrong”
A Liberal doesn’t believe in there being any sort of Absolute Standard by which their behavior is measured. Consequently, there is no “right” or “wrong” only preferences and perspectives. This is why when they’re having to contend with the consequences of their actions – because in their mind they have done nothing “wrong” – they can feel justifed in claiming the status of a victim. They’re either being limited by an oppressive society or they’re struggling beneath the weight of unfortunate circumstances, they’re never simply reaping what they have sown.
Even when you can successfully navigate the conversation to that place where they’re willing to concede they made a poor choice, they will defend that choice by saying they had no other option. By clinging to the notion that they had no alternative, they’re able to preserve the idea that they’ve done nothing inappropriate and whatever code or creed would otherwise result in an indictment is effectively circumvented and they remain a world unto themselves.
The Wrong Side of the Road
Imagine someone driving on the wrong side of the road.
If they position themselves as someone who’s under duress, it becomes very hard to be critical of their behavior without appearing indifferent and perhaps even cruel.
For example, if they’re trying to get their wife to hospital before she gives birth, that changes the way in which you evaluate their choice to risk a head on collision, even if it’s not a good idea.
But if on the other hand they’re just being reckless and irresponsible, then their behavior is rightly identified as such regardless of how they might try to justify it.
The challenge is to be able to figure out whether or not the person you’re speaking with is, in fact, someone having to deal with mitigating circumstances, or if they’re just trying to appear that way in order to avoid having to take responsibility for their actions.
You can do that by keeping the conversation focused on the problems created by your opponent’s behavior as opposed to their feelings.
You: “You’re driving on the wrong side of the road.”
Them: “You accusing me of driving on the wrong side of the road is a manifestion of an oppressive socieity and you’re making me feel uncomfortable.”
You: “I’m sorry that’s the way you feel, but we’re not talking about your emotions, we’re talking about the way you’re choosing to drive.”
Them: “I choose to drive that way because I’m naturally drawn to driving on the wrong side of the road. I have the right to be happy and you questioning my perspective constitutues an assault on my personal freedoms.”
You: “Your freedom to choose does not mean that every option you have available to you translates to the same outcome. In this instance, your choice translates to you being a threat to yourself and others. Neither your freedoms nor your feelings exempt you from having to take responsibility for your actions.”
Them: “I’m not hurting anyone.”
You: “You’re forcing everyone to adjust the way they drive in order to accommodate what amounts to a self serving resolve to ignore the law and a healthy flow of traffic. From that standpoint, you’re hurting everyone.”
Them: “I belive the law to be corrupt and can therefore be interpreted according to person’s individual preferences. Furthermore, whatever your opinion may be, while you are entitled to it, you cannot force your beliefs on me.”
You: “You cannot conceal or deny the problems your decisions produce by criticizing the very rules that were designed to prevent those problems to begin with. We’re not talking about what I believe. Rather, we’re talking about the natural consequences of your behavior.”
Them: “Fine. That’s the way you feel, but that’s not the way I see it.”
You: “This isn’t about perspective, this is about math. You want to shoot yourself in the foot and then insist it’s because someone told you not to do it that you’re in pain. The way you think plus the way you act equals the price you pay. You either make wise decisions that cost you very little or you make foolish choices that can be very expensive. Either way, it’s you that pays the bill and you don’t demand someone else pay the tab simply because you don’t like the amount.”
Them: “That’s your opinion.”
You: “No, that’s your responsibility. The validity of your perspective is ultimately gauged according to what happens when that perspective is put into practice. You can’t say your approach to a particular issue is credible simply because it’s yours. You have to demonstrate that it works and if it doesn’t, then you have to be willing to admit that you might be wrong. But if all you do is blame somone or something else, you’re not looking for the truth as much as you’re looking for an excuse.”
Them: “You can’t make me think like you.”
You: “No, I can’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a car coming and you’re in the wrong lane. Regardless of how you feel or what I believe, there are consequences to your actions and you are responsible for the decisions you make.”
“You might want to get over.”
Choices and Results
That’s how you win.
Your opponent may not yield to your line of reasoning, but…
…by keeping the conversation focused on choices and results, you can avoid the concessions that are often made when the dialogue focuses more on opinions and complaints.