On Having A Conversation

So let’s start with the basics:

Ground Rules

Fairly Simple and straightforward.

Ok, so we now have some strong guidelines here on how to do so.

You cannot have a discussion from the get go if you cannot agree to abide by basic principles of reasonable discussion. Which are, now, laid out fairly well above.

Good Faith

You need to have Good Faith — the first three sections in the first graphic up above are, essentially, the keys to good faith, provided you are honest.  The moment you are dishonest, you no longer are acting in good faith. It also does not matter to me if you do not realize you are being dishonest as a result of repeating something someone told you.

In the image above, the yellow/orange bar at the front is what you can use to determine, in part, if you are going into the conversation with good faith.

Active Listening

You have to actively listen to what the other person is saying. Part of the reason my “attacks” on other people are so effective is that I engage, each and every time, in active listening. Which I combine with my own skills from my work. Makes for a deadly combination that means I can see shit they don’t even know they are saying.

Because I am listening to them and giving what they are saying not only my full attention, but my good faith.

Good Arguments


The third graphic shows a sort of pyramid of ways to argue, with the most preferred at the very top, and then descending in order of value.

The top 3 are the ones you want to use. In an actual conversation, I generally stick to them with occasional use of the time honored tradition of good insulting jabs at my opponent(s).

Bluntly, since I very rarely have actual conversations with haters since they seem to always come from a position of bad faith and dishonesty (which means, well, they aren’t interested in a conversation, an so I won’t have one), I generally degrade into the bottom four. Because why put more energy into something beyond laughing at it for the absurdity it is?

On “Proving Your Point”

People often argue that it is the job of a person making an argument to prove the point, and to do so they will demand links and citations.  This is actually succumbing to a logical fallacy of appeal to Authority, and relies on the ad hominem attack of the subject not knowing what they are talking about without them proving that about themselves first.

So the demanding of links or other “proof” is, while popular, a failure of critical thinking. In order to establish that you know the topic you are speaking to, you should be able to answer some various questions about it through the use of critical thinking and various scientific critical analysis.

Here is one tool to help with that:

This does not mean that evidence doesn’t need to be provided, or that someone cannot turn to an expert authority in reference, but that one cannot demand it of them, and still be operating in good faith.

It also does not mean that a link or citation somehow excuses the person using them from making a cogent argument of their own, that the link is merely a supporting reference for.

This last bit is very, very important — if your entire argument is being made for you by someone else (a link to someone else’s work), you are not doing the job yourself, and, therefore, you are not arguing in good faith.

A further note about links and citations — and this is a big one. IF someone says “According to X book”, they are making a citation. They do not need to provide a link or an explicit, outlined style form of citation, unless they are writing for some professional purpose — essentially, unless the form of discourse explicitly calls for a bibliography in the rules of the format (and most internet discourse does not) then there is no need to do so.

So, for example, if I say “the world health organization”, I have cited a source that someone can use — and I need not go further than that — it is still their job to verify the information and examine it, and there is no requirement that the work of doing so be done for them.

Forms of Violence


Avoid Violence

Since a great deal of my work centers around oppression, human rights, shame, ostracism, and social violence, and therefore my conversations are in that arena as well, it becomes critical that as part of that act of good faith, that the people involved avoid being violent.

Violence immediately destroys any sort of good faith one might otherwise have. You cannot be nicely violent.

For example, the moment you call a trans woman a man, or male, you are being violent, and, because of that — no matter how strongly you believe otherwise or whatever — you can no longer have good faith, and the conversation ceases.

Now, I realize that a lot of people do not believe this to be the case. I don’t care. It is a fact that doing so is exactly that, and it is a fact that every major organization in the world dealing with human rights recognizes.

Specifically, in the chart, you can see that community part, and the stranger and acquaintance side of things. Then you will note that there is psychological, and then deprivation & Neglect involved.

That is the specific form of violence being referenced.

So, to have a discussion in good faith, first you have to secure permission from a trans person if you want to be violent towards them.  Or — better choice — just not be violent. It isn’t that hard.

Logical Fallacies

One more thing to keep in mind that is also a large image:


the website that comes from is very handy.

About my mocking folks who are not arguing in good faith:

I am very tough on this.  I am quite happy to “play around” and not have a discussion when these rules are broken – these are called exchanges, and are often very unpleasant.

They are not debates — a debate is a kind of discussion, but not a conversation. These are not lectures. These are me teasing the hell out of someone who wants me to allow them to be a fuckwit.

I don’t do that well.

And that is how you have a conversation.