An Admonition to Debate Club Members Everywhere

I was just chastised for being “erudite”. This castigation was part of a greater argument intent on demonstrating why my point was somehow less valid than that of my opponent; an attempt at ad hominem, but unintentionally turned upside down. The debate itself had loathsome structure and lacked precision. If it had been some sort of test of a reasonable question, the kind I used to debate back in high school, even the most uninterested or inexperienced judge would have had to call the whole thing off.

Here in lies today’s life lesson. Back in my high school days I spent time cultivating a more expensive vocabulary specifically because it provided increased accuracy and greater precision.  At various points during that time I felt encouraged in this pursuit by teachers, parents and other superiors eager to support rhetorical success.  At the time I needed the success, in any form and having the forum just made me happier relative to the shiftless kid I had been prior.  Admittedly, my formal education stalled and while I may unintentionally demonstrate “great learning or knowledge” even I know there are much smarter and more capable people out there with credentials to back them up.  Today that vocabulary may unintentionally paint me as a “smartypants” or a guy-on-the-internet-with-a-superiority-complex ([your favorite deity] forbid). Its ultimately an obsessive/compulsive pursuit for a narrow degree of closeness of measurement to a true value.

Now years after high school cross-x I have found that debate and even impromptu rhetorical exercise has became increasingly an opportunity for wonder and confusion. I completely understand that you and seven billion others are likely to see things differently than I do, in fact, I would bet on this likelihood. I’ve also found that, because there is largely no organization around these sorts of disagreements, the lack of rules ultimately makes the whole affair useless.

Frankly, before you learn even the least bit about rhetoric, you should read a disclaimer stating firmly and without equivocation that you’re signing up for a lifetime of disappointment. Unless you’ve got a pHd and work at a think-tank no argument or debate will ever again be as rigorous, well structured, precise and meaningful as what you’re likely to get at the standard high school invitational. You may make a habit of reading and learning about things that interest you around what would appear to be a reasonable resolve, but ultimately, you’re going to spend most of your time after high school listing off the logical fallacies the opposition will rely on.

Ultimately, in my most recent disappointment for a debate, I ended up withdrawing all comments and resigning any opposition because, per my oppositions only valid point, there was no point to the exercise.  His argument was so poorly formed and so rife with comments about the potential state of my mind that I felt like I was facing a sand blaster with a broken throttle.  I need to renew my resolve to avoid this kind of social contact with friends and, and in this case, strangers.  It does me no good and usually leaves me stuck in thought loops which just eat away at me.

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2 thoughts on “An Admonition to Debate Club Members Everywhere

  1. Bah, don’t give up. You have a vocabulary, use it. 🙂 Wonder and confusion probably stems from ignorance of the lesser used words in the English language. You hit on a concern of mine–we seem to be trending towards letting language atrophy, opting to dumb things down because we’re too lazy to look up words we don’t understand or remember, settling for what comes to mind the quickest and not what really reflects what you intend.

    • Oh I’m not giving up, just trying to avoid useless exchanges. Vocabulary is the framework of the minds; a big vocabulary is an expansive mind. Campbell’s monkeys make six basic sounds and have about 20 words, their shared experience is bound by this limitation. I’ve been told, more than once in my life, that I use ten dollar words where a nickel one word will do, but I’m certainly over apologizing for this as if it were some sort of character flaw. If others are too concerned with the norm to see this as a blessing that’s too bad for them.

      Thanks for the kind words 🙂

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