When I was in high school you could take “rhetoric” as a class, and join the debate team. One of the features of debate, where one side won and the other lost—there were no “participation trophies”—was that you could be called upon to hold either of the positions. You had to use rationale and intelligent argument to win with the judges. Today, people resort to invective, “cancelling,” and ad hominem attacks.
Of course, those were the days when you looked your opponent in the eye, and couldn’t resort to bold, obnoxious statements on a social media platform, tucked away safely in your own bedroom.
(For those of you keeping score, It’s now a week that Linkedin has banished me, refusing to accept it’s really me, despite passport photos, a major website, 60 books, yada yada yada. Today I’m submitting a notarized statement to prove it’s me, not because I need Linkedin but because I want to report just how foolish they can be. You can find all of my usual posts, including A Minute with Alan, here on my blog, on Twitter, and on various other platforms.)