Debate the Topic Not the Person

The recent shooting tragedies that have highlighted the news over the last week or so have really brought forth a great deal of strong opinions. Opinions by friends are being torn apart by others and used to mean so much more than they should; discussions are turning into heated debates then falling apart into ad hominem attacks upon one another.

elephant-donkey-boxingThis, unfortunately, isn’t new. It’s something I’ve been witnessing getting worse and worse over the years. The past two Presidential elections brought out some of the worst behaviours I’ve seen in people and it just seems to keep going as emotions run high.

When did we stop being able to hold civil discussions with people who have different opinions than ourselves?

I’m friends with wide variety of individuals from each end of the spectrum in regards to politics, religion, etc. Many of them have very strong opinions, some of which I agree with and some that I don’t. However, despite my disagreement of their opinions I haven’t really felt a need to bash them as a person or “unfriend” them simply because we disagree.

I actually enjoy learning about different points of view. It will either enhance or strengthen my opinion on the issue of discussion or possibly make me reconsider my opinion with a new perspective.

What amazes me are the people who were friends, but with a hot topic being aggressively debated on their Facebook page, they begin to make things personal and end up cutting ties and dismantling a friendship, possibly one that had endured years, over a difference of opinion.

My suggestion for when you are in the middle of one of these emotionally charged and heated debates to remember to keep your argument about the topic at hand and not the individual wielding the opinion you disagree with. Remember that despite their opinion they are still a human being and if you both wish to keep your friendship relatively unscathed it’s best to not make it a personal attack on the other person.

By making the debate about the person rather than the topic weakens your stand point. Because if you are unable to make your point without tearing down the person with whom you are debating, you haven’t got a legitimate foundation from which to build any counter point to debate from.


This is a good example of how a discussion could go:ArkansasDSTLetter

Seymour believes that Daylight Savings Time is causing global warming and feels we must stop this practice to save the planet.

Prudence, however, disagrees and is aware that Daylight Savings Time has nothing to do with global warming and explains why Seymour’s theory is flawed.

Now from there each person should be able to debate their point. However, I’m seeing more of this behaviour instead:

AussieDSTSeymour believes Daylight Savings Time is causing global warming and wonders why the idiots who support DST can’t pull their heads out of their backside long enough to do away with it before we all die and any who disagree are simply dooming all of earth’s population.

Prudence sees this post and decides to point out to Seymour not only how he’s incorrect, but also point out that he’s a complete and utter moron and should not even bother wasting time with the internet as he’s clearly so stupid that he should be spending his hard earned cash on more useful things like getting sterilized to prevent having any moron children.


Ok, perhaps that wasn’t the best example, but I think you get my point about the difference between the two, right?

My point remains the same… debate the topic, not the person. Be more respectful of one another and if possible, be kind to each other.



Tiësto, born Tijs Michiel Verwest on January 17, 1969, is a Dutch DJ and record producer of electronic dance music. Although he has used many aliases in the past, he is best known for his work as DJ Tiësto. On his productions in the past five years, however, he has dropped the “DJ” label and is now known simply as “Tiësto”, an alias which is an Italian twist of his childhood nickname.

Tiesto – I Will Be Here (Wolfgang Gartner Remix)


3 thoughts on “Debate the Topic Not the Person”

  1. I agree that it is much more difficult to have a civil discussion without bashing the person. People in general have become used to hearing the screaming, talking heads on cable t.v. castigate one another, name call, and attack individuals or groups for holding a position whether it is “on the left” or “on the right” side of an issue. There is no “civil debate” anymore, and this is unfortunate. I, personally, have turned off and tuned out the pundits.


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