I'd like a quippy comeback / response...
July 19, 2013 10:38 PM   Subscribe

My dear friend from high school - who I still love and adore - has a husband who isn't, shall we say, on the same wavelength as me. I don't want to damage the relationship with 'dear friend', but at the same time... game on.

He posted this on FB tonight:

You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into. Meet the American Left.

I'd like suggestions for a response.

I don't want to hear about how I shouldn't be his friend on FB.
I don't want to read a psychoanalysis about why I should or shouldn't care what he has to say.
I don't want to hear you say that I shouldn't respond, even though his statement wasn't directed at me.

I'd just like to hear your responses about how you would reply to such a statement.
posted by matty to Society & Culture (42 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: Bob some 14 year old hacker has hijacked your account and is posting moronic political generalizations that make assumptions about and denigrate half of the population of the United States on your public wall. Time to change the password!
posted by carsonb at 10:51 PM on July 19, 2013 [39 favorites]


Best answer: I might throw in a 'Jesus wept' for good measure.
posted by carsonb at 10:54 PM on July 19, 2013


Wow, the view is really something from up on that cross!
posted by pickypicky at 10:56 PM on July 19, 2013


Best answer: "huh? i don't understand. seriously, can you explain what you mean?"

... and let him dig himself his own grave.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:57 PM on July 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


"When reason isn't applicable, time to break out your bible!"
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:57 PM on July 19, 2013


Best answer: "That must be difficult for you"
posted by anitanita at 11:04 PM on July 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Best answer: "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." -John Kenneth Galbraith

I mean...if you want to get into a tit for tat all out Facebook comment war on something as general as "who iz better left-wing or right-wing??!" I guess I'd go with that quote.
posted by windbox at 11:09 PM on July 19, 2013 [62 favorites]


Some ideas:

- What's your reasoning?

- I agree!

- Why don't you tell us how you really feel?

Sounds like this is in response to a conversation you two recently had? If so, might be helpful to know what the conversation was about.
posted by lunasol at 11:11 PM on July 19, 2013


"Why are you so mean"
posted by frenetic at 11:12 PM on July 19, 2013


My standard response used to be, "I love you,too, Mittens. You want some Swiss Miss?" But then Romney came along and ruined the Mittens part, and other pet names just didn't have the same ring to them.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:16 PM on July 19, 2013


Best answer: Bless your heart, aren't you precious?
posted by edgeways at 11:17 PM on July 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Response by poster: Sounds like this is in response to a conversation you two recently had? If so, might be helpful to know what the conversation was about.

Haven't engaged with him since Obama won in '08. I generally don't comment on anything he has to say, but the diatribe has been constant over the years. I always ignore it. As I said, his wife is an old and CURRENT friend who's friendship I'd rather not abandon. As in we've been friends for over 30 years. Since childhood.

I'd like, just for once, after all my silence to say SOMETHING that makes him think. Something irrefutable. Because THIS time, I don't feel like I can ignore it.

I'm gay.
I'm in the military. Have been for over 15 years.

Maybe DOMA falling has made me more willing to stand my ground, but just once, just this ONE time, I'd like to say something profound that puts him in his place?

I might be off on this, and I know I should probably just shut my mouth - but I've shut my mouth enough.

I'd just like to go into this with some quips that help me feel confident, because I'm not used to it. For once, I feel like I have something to stand on.
posted by matty at 11:26 PM on July 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Best answer: Why don't you just tell him the truth?

"Bob, there is no Right or Left. There's the very wealthy oligarchy who control everything, including the dialogue - and then there are the rest of us who squabble amongst ourselves over table scraps, and actively work to ensure our own social and economic enslavement with our ignorance about how things really are right now.

If you want to complain, that's OK, but please don't point your finger at others in the same boat as yourself, even if you disagree with them about social issues like gay marriage or abortion - those are distractions.

In short, you are helping those few who are in power to further abuse all of us. They are not going to take you or your children along for the ride into a better future when the technological singularity occurs, or The Rapture happens, or the like.

I mean, I guess they might take you along if they need slaves/indentured servants because they'll need support staff - but you will still be trading your autonomy for the table scraps.

At the top they are only fighting about money, power, and control. They don't care about ideology in terms of Left or Right, Republican or Democrat - and neither should you.

Stop contributing to diviseness and enslavement.

There are more productive conversations we can have. Let's do that!"


Edit this down as necessary, but this is the basic situation as it really is. The rest is noise like your friend's husband is posting on FB. DON'T PLAY INTO THAT BULLSHIT.
posted by jbenben at 11:29 PM on July 19, 2013 [199 favorites]


Too vague for a meaningful rebuttal, unless you think that it's worth the trouble to note that there's no such thing as "The Left" as an entity, but that's not the strongest-ever position to try to argue because he'll pull out a bunch of Fox talking points.

If you wait for him to say something more specifically disprovable, it might be more satisfying for you.
posted by desuetude at 11:44 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish I had infinite favorites for jbenben's comment.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:48 PM on July 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into. Meet the American Right.
posted by mazola at 11:51 PM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Best answer: "Why are you posting these things? Are you just venting, or are you sincerely trying to help people understand each other better?"

Please bear in mind that a whole relationship can be undone by one misstep, and it's when we (i.e. you) are in a position of relative strength that you have the chance to really build bridges.

In other words, that bit of power you're feeling can be used to do a lot of good, possibly. More good than your friend's husband with his venting. You're finally in a position to be generous.

You can use the confidence you're feeling to just *relax* for once. Wouldn't that be great?


Also, if he's a Christian (sorry to stereotype), this new book "Zealot: The life and times of Jesus of Nazareth" looks interesting. Maybe he'd like a link to it.
posted by amtho at 12:00 AM on July 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


I would say - "Oh Bob, stop flirting with me" - but YMMV seriously on this.

I tend to agree with desuetude, though.
posted by heyjude at 12:11 AM on July 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Best answer: OK, how about something like, "Do you agree with everything said by every right-wing commentator? People on 'the left' are individuals as much as people on the right. Many of them are more thoughtful than soundbytes"
posted by amtho at 12:29 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into. Meet the American Left.

If reason had no power against the unreasonable, it would be impotent. Just like the American Right.
posted by jamjam at 12:47 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


"You're right. We should be leading them out of those positions with exhibitions of joy, agreeableness, openness, competence, and reality-based successes that even a few unreasonable people should want to emulate."
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:39 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Faith takes many forms."
posted by rhizome at 1:42 AM on July 20, 2013


Best answer: I posted the following in a thread last year: (see this also, for amplification)
An old buddy of mine had a really great way to defuse situations where a person would say something that ran counter to his ideas and/or ideals. My friends name is Vinny, so I call this "The Vinny." As follows:

Statement: "Obama hates white people, wishes they all had gas."
The Vinny: "Ya know, you might be right."

Statement: "White people suck, they all want everyone else to die."
The Vinny: "Ya know, you might be right."

Statement: "Cats are stupid, dogs are the best pet ever."
The Vinny: "Ya know, you might be right."

The Vinny just deflates everything, stops it dead. You're not arguing with them; even if they're clearly brain-dead, you've not said as much. And you're not agreeing with them, either, you're just giving it a way out. You haven't said you agree, or that you disagree, and you've given them the benefit of the doubt.

It's best to follow it up with "So, hows about that potato salad -- I just love it when Myrtle brings her potato salad!" or "Hey, I just got a raise, I'm so lucky." or whatever else, just head it out of the roiling waters and into potato salad waters.

They know instantly what you're up to, and that the game is over, and they won't like it -- they look like third graders, all fussy, mad enough to bite themselves. But the game *is* over, and you're on toward potato salad.

It works.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:34 PM on August 19, 2012

posted by dancestoblue at 2:15 AM on July 20, 2013 [17 favorites]


Best answer: "Hahaha! That's a good one! Where do you hear this stuff?!"

"Can always count on you for a good laugh!"

"Caution, everybody! Bob's deep thoughts ahead!"

"Putting on the gas mask again ... here comes the hot air!"

Don't engage in the content, ever. Just rise right above it and cut it to ribbons by going after him.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:21 AM on July 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am flippant and immature (but then, so is the status he posted), so I would quite likely just leave it at "lol." Maybe "The irony is strong with this one," if I was feeling verbose. jbenben's idea is pretty awesome, though.
posted by kagredon at 4:51 AM on July 20, 2013


Best answer: I'd like, just for once, after all my silence to say SOMETHING that makes him think. Something irrefutable.

You know that that's not gonna happen, right? Or at least, that that's not gonna happen over Facebook or just with a quip, right?

People like him are just so entrenched in their position that a quip on Facebook wouldn't bust them out of it - only a very lengthy discussion, one in which they are willing to engage in themselves, would do it. And his willingness to engage is the biggest part of all - he has to be ready to consider - and change - his opinions if necessary. But that is something that has to come from him, it is not a state you can drag him into - especially not with a funny snarky quip on Facebook.

But what a funny snarky quip on Facebook can do, though, is maybe plant the seed that his positions are one-note enough that people are stopping taking him seriously. Even then it's dicey that he wouldn't just write you off or would get it - but this is the most you can accomplish with a quippy comment on Facebook. There's someone on a friend's feed that was like this - and in response to something he said, I recently posted "...You make me feel like I should come up with a bingo card for the things you say and start playing it when I read your facebook page."

I know you want to think of the single most perfect thing that will change his mind forever, but it's just plain not going to happen.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:52 AM on July 20, 2013 [17 favorites]


Compared to most of the fighty righty snark that's appeared on my fb feed in recent years, that comment is mild, and even true. Millions of people on the left (such as it is) come to their beliefs organically, emotionally, because they grew up with them, etc. and not through reason. I don't support DOMA falling because of research about community cohesiveness, macro-economic benefits to the tax base, etc. I celebrate its end because I believe it was unfair and ethically/morally wrong. My belief is not universal, it's subjective and based on my personal ethics rather than reason. We are emotional creatures and sometimes its ok to support something because we believe it to be true. We all do it, left and right alike, even the randians who pretend to be all about reason. Where we fool ourselves is in trying to bend science to our beliefs. There will always be a study that supports or refutes a position.

That said if you really feel compelled to respond to that post, jbenben nailed it.
posted by headnsouth at 5:57 AM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Best answer: I've been on Facebook groups with conservatives (which I am not) and have worked for years in a very conservative industry.

Two things I've found to work:

1. If you don't mind that he'll never engage with you again, go with the "out-crazy the crazy". At my last job, they had me figured as college educated and therefore probably liberal pretty early, in spite of my resolute silence on all matters. When they asked me about the death penalty, I responded "If you are caught within the cordon police establish around a crime scene, you should be executed immediately."

They never asked my opinion about anything again, ever.

However, these were people I was only going to see at work, and I wasn't going to be there long anyway.

For situations like yours, or in my case where I'm working with people who I like in every way except their political beliefs, I use:

2. Change the subject immediately, unabashedly and without acknowledging the prior political statement. I actually had to do this once this morning, and it works marvelously. The coworker in question has no idea about my political beliefs, was entirely derailed from the topic, and we moved on to a discussion of the new topic (music).

I think it's important to understand that for conservatives (and even liberals) many of these kinds of statements aren't some deeply thought out philosophical thing, they're just more or less announcements of their belonging to a particular group, in the hopes that you will also belong to that group.

While you can't honestly say you belong to that group or share those beliefs, you do have something in common with just about every person you meet, right? So it's better to seek a different kind of common ground with them, one of your own choosing. This has many benefits. It turns a potential enemy to a potential friend, and kind of puts you in a leadership role in the relationship. I mean, I think it's clear that many conservatives live in a world where they and their beliefs are threatened at all times, from all directions. What do you think their response is going to be to yet another attack? All they'll do is dig in.
posted by atchafalaya at 6:07 AM on July 20, 2013 [15 favorites]


"The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing".
posted by windykites at 6:14 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have FB friends on both sides of the fence that I simply don't read their posts anymore because it's just going to make me angry. They few times I've responded have resulted in a comment war that just got uglier until one of us gave up. The only way to win is not to play the game.

However, if I was going to play, I'd go with one of these responses:

"Witty response using negative generalizations about the other side."

"Pot, meet kettle."

A facepalm picture:
Here's one.
Here's another.

A cute picture of kittens or puppies, or one of the "here is a picture, your argument is invalid" pics, for example:
here
or here.

I really like this one though: Ha ha ha... No.
posted by rakaidan at 6:42 AM on July 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


You could let Chris Rock speak for you. A useful reminder in just one minute.
posted by xenization at 7:28 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you want to go nuclear along the lines of heyjude's suggestion...
posted by oflinkey at 7:39 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd like, just for once, after all my silence to say SOMETHING that makes him think. Something irrefutable... Maybe DOMA falling has made me more willing to stand my ground, but just once, just this ONE time, I'd like to say something profound that puts him in his place?

Then you'll need to do that in person, face to face, over a beer. Because making people think is not what Facebook is for. Facebook is for displaying tribal allegiances, bragging, and farming toy food.

But if all you're actually after is a tribal marker of your own, try "Reason is for losers. Meet the American Right."
posted by flabdablet at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Nuance is for losers. Meet the American Right." works too.
posted by flabdablet at 8:55 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


You do know you can remove posts from your wall, right? Might be the path better traveled, rather than getting into a war on your wall, you know?
posted by Lynsey at 9:02 AM on July 20, 2013


You cannot make him think.

You can hide his posts so that you don't see them.

You *can* drop a statement into the thread that registers your offense/disagreement. You can ignore resulting comments if you prefer not to engage further. No one wins the further engagement, ever.

If you had a closer relationship with him, I might suggest You're Not Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong) for working on having a respectful conversation around politics. But it doesn't really sound like this is about having a better relationship with him, it sounds like you are sick of the b.s. he spouts and you dislike him. Which is understandable.

Ideas:
1. "Interesting. I disagree."

2. "Are you trying to convince people from the left that they are wrong? It doesn't seem to be working for me. Try again!" Then "Huh. No, still democrat. Try again!!" "Funny, I'm still totally a democrat, but I was wondering if you have a facebook status that will change the gay? Because I have that too."

It's kind of troll-ish, but it makes him do all the work, and it makes clear the position that "You are posting this stuff to everyone, not just conservatives, and it is not having the intended effect." He wants to stir the pot. If you stir back, do it on your terms.

3. "Bob, we don't seem to be on the same page re: politics, and I don't sense that you are interested in having a thoughtful conversation about my political convictions. Do you have a filter for political posts? If so, I'd like to be removed. Thanks!" (maybe share a link on how to filter)
posted by bunderful at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into. Meet the American Left.
He's a troll. Instead of saying something persuasive, thoughtful, reasonable or interesting, he's trolling for an emotional response. The best you can do is deny him any response, but you are set on responding, so deny him the emotional response. Blow him off, dismiss him, don't take him seriously.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into. Meet the American Left.
Interesting. That's pretty much what the Left says about the Right. Semantic diddling.
There you go again, being provocative.
Oh Bob, you're so consistent.
and the meaningless "Well there you go" which you could use with him repeatedly.

Or, reply with a quotation:
Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience. —Greg King
Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference. —Mark Twain
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. —Proverbs 26:4 (King James version)
www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/idiots
"An idiot with a computer is a faster, better idiot." (Rich Julius)
www.philharding.net/quotes-corner/quotes-corner-5wit.htm
litemind.com/favorite-quotes/
www.vegard.net/one-liners/
corp.adjutant.com/about/favorite-quotes
posted by theora55 at 11:32 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


"You know, Stephen Colbert really does that schtick a lot better..."
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:39 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't have a clever retort, but you could point out that his statement simply isn't true. Of course you can reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into. In fact, it (um) stands to reason that this should be easier: as long as reason hasn't been tried, it still has a chance. It's when someone has rigorously reasoned themselves into a perfectly wrong position that you're really in trouble.
posted by zeri at 5:42 PM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Paraphrased from This Modern World: "Well, I certainly can't argue with *that* kind of logic!"
posted by Rykey at 7:11 AM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's a troll. Instead of saying something persuasive, thoughtful, reasonable or interesting, he's trolling for an emotional response.

Yes, exactly. Do not engage, because that is what he wants. My experience with these kinds of posts is that the people who post them are passive bullies. They have some stock responses for your first reply, and then if you engage further, they turn it around into "don't get your panties into a bunch!" kinds of replies. They are trying to ferret out who the "weak" ones are- IE, the people who are still willing to engage them- and then use that information to pester them. Plonk/killfile/ignore is the only way out.
posted by gjc at 7:38 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]




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