Are you stupid, or do you agree with me?

Submitted by wolverine1987 on March 24th, 2009 at 5:11 PM

I've always admired people who are able to argue forcefully about a topic without getting personal, attacking, or losing their temper. It seems a rare quality these days, especially on the web, where the cloak of anonymity seems to lend itself to comments that, were they made in person, would likely get someone's ass kicked.

One of my best friends at M was politically the direct opposite of me. At the time we were both on our way to law school, and very much into philosophical and political debates, which sometimes degenerated into yelling. Yet it never got personal, and it was forgotten by the time we entered Rick's. And while we don't keep in touch much, I consider him one of my best friends.

About a year ago, I saw a profile of Justice Scalia on 60 minutes, and what struck me most about it was they said that the two best friends on the Supreme Court were Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, his direct opposite politically. They asked him about it and he said "I don't argue with people, I argue with ideas." I thought that was pretty rare.

While I haven't always lived up to that standard myself (especially when I read some troll on the Freep website), I try to. I've thrown around "you're an idiot" too much, and turning to this site, I see that thrown out or worse quite a bit in the majority of threads. I wonder if you guys think the overall tone of this site and the comments section is: A-about right, B-too accusatory and personal, or C-not personal and derogatory enough asshole!

Not that "you're an idiot" is not ever deserved. There was a thread the other day about poole1dan, who defined the word idiot and worse in his comments. In fact I went to youtube, where he has a channel, to tell him he was ignorant and giving the rest of us a bad name. More (perhaps) deserved scorn might go to that guy who ignores actual facts in favor of his argument (e.g. the recruiting rankings don't matter guy)... debatable anyway. Not debatable is that guy who says that Brian is an idiot (poole1dan again), or calls people he doesn't agree with idiots simply because they have the opposite opinion. You may or may not agree with Obama, but clearly he is an intelligent guy who deserves respect.

So, this may too much of a Rodney King thread, but I'd be interested in the replies. I love a good argument, but like going to get a beer afterwards a lot more.



March 24th, 2009 at 5:24 PM ^

I don't get mad when people disagree with me usually. I usually get mad when people deliberately mis-interpret (whether consciously or not) in order to sound like they are part of the "in" crowd who knows whats up in the world of ______.

And then I swear at them, as I would do any other person I didn't know at a random house party who was being a dick.


March 25th, 2009 at 1:36 AM ^

I'll go ahead and assume this refers to me.

And the thought of me being part of ANY "in" crowd is fantastically laughable. Even if I tried, it would be an epic fail. Epic, I tell you.

And (I want to emphasize that I'm being serious here) I would never deliberately mis-interpret someone's post. When you responded the way you did, I took offense because I honestly thought I was making a legitimate point based on my honest understanding (however wrong) of your post.

If I misinterpreted your post, I apologize. But know that I did not do so maliciously. I have never been involved in a "cyberfight" before, and I hope to avoid any future ones.

You missed work time. I missed work time. And we both lost. Let's just stick to football.


March 24th, 2009 at 5:31 PM ^

Anonymity really takes away the consequences of acting like a jackass, and absence of these consequences it is much easier to fall into the trap of thinking that by stating your opinion more forcefully will help get it across better. I think forums and blogs should be making somewhat of an effort to keep arguments and debates at least somewhat civil, because it draws out the better opinions instead of drowning them in a flood of NO UR AN IDIOT!

Still, some places can go too far. Some people on the internet deserve ridicule, and sometimes there is no response to an argument but "God you are stupid, please never come back" I know some places that won't allow this even in extreme cases, and they feel very fake, like you aren't talking sports. You want to be able to ridicule the people who post things that are in your face stupid, because its funny! I think we get a good mix here, some people fly off the handle a little too quick, myself included, but its thousands of times better and more civilized than that drivel over on Mlive.

In closing, remember, the internet, is serious f*cking business.


March 24th, 2009 at 5:34 PM ^

despite the fact that you are rowing against the tide. Especially with an impersonal medium like the web, it's a lot easier to hurl personal insults and retreat to the anonymous shadow of one's online personality.

We are also discussing a sport that, by its very nature, is confrontational and attracts fans that sometimes like to mix it up.

But there is also a great tradition in football and other sports with "leaving it on the field." We should compete on the gridiron of ideas but remember to respect our adversaries.

That being said, I just called some people on this site "bastards" about five minutes ago. I take it back. I've seen the light!


March 24th, 2009 at 5:38 PM ^

I was like that more in the playing field. I would bust my ass to win, and I wouldn't take any shit so trash talk physical play and the like usually lead to harsh words and fights, but I didn't see it as a personal thing since we were on the field. After the game was finished you shake hands and move on. It was about the competition and not giving in to your opponent. Once it finished I shut it down, some strangers wouldn't get it but it was how I looked at it. Some people would be shocked when they found out 1 of the guys on the other teams was my best friend. I'd do anything for him, but when we stepped on the court he wasn't allowed an inch.

Tha Quiet Storm

March 24th, 2009 at 5:41 PM ^

has the most readable comments of any of the sites I normally go to.

The main reasons for this are: (A) the majority of the diaries and board threads are reasonable enough to foster good discussion, and (B) the site has a loyal, regular following who won't hesitate to put the smack down on someone who is out of line/stoopid/inappropriate.

Brian could completely stop writing articles tomorrow and I'd still come here because this place is completely devoid of the "Fire DickRod" types.

a non emu

March 24th, 2009 at 5:56 PM ^

As soon as I see the first hostile comment on a thread, I close it. The rest of the thread usually just disintegrates into -
Intelligence attacks, or complaints about title creating ability, or complaints about poor cognition, and followed by various attempted snarky putdowns, followed by complaints about the viciousness of the board, finally devolving into name calling and yo mama jokes.

You've read one, you've read them all.


March 24th, 2009 at 6:28 PM ^

I really enjoyed this post. I love a good, well-reasoned argument. Most every Fall for the last 20 years, I get together in the western part of the state with 8 or so guys I was at UM with. We were all involved in a Christian group on campus, and some of us were in a frat together. We eat together, take walks, maybe shoot some skeet, watch the game, pick apples, throw a football, play euchre or hearts or Scrabble, etc. No wives, and nothing skanky. All that is good, but what makes it worth while and really good is being able to debate and argue and discuss from the Left and from the Right, sometimes strongly disagree, but still go away friends.

It is much harder to do that in a blog with anonymity. Somehow, as a stupid noob, I ended up using my real name at this blog. Probably this means that someone knows me and the doofus things I've done, or could Google me. Whatever. The point is this: because my name is there, and I can't really hide, I think about what I write, and whether or not it's offensive. Some of what I've written is probably offensive, some of it is stupid or ignorant, occasionally I may have a good point to make. Who knows. But because my name is attached, it means I am much less likely to be intentionally inflammatory, or insulting, or offensive. I realize that very few here will choose to shed the cloak of anonymity, but when your name is attached, and you have some responsibility for what you say, the discourse usually becomes more civil.

I will say, this and UMHoops are about the only blogs I read regularly. I used to go through threads elsewhere, but there was so much flaming, and trolls, and idiocy, I couldn't stand it. Certainly, I didn't ever post regularly or often elsewhere.


March 24th, 2009 at 6:52 PM ^

I've parsed people's mgoblog names to identify them and make them realize their stupidity CAN be attached to their online personnas. Like the one guy that owned 100ft of books or something. However, you hit the nail on the head here: "Whatever. The point is this: because my name is there, and I can't really hide, I think about what I write, and whether or not it's offensive." As a result, if you can't hide, no one will go looking for you.

Personally, I use a non-name tag because I don't want some crazy person whose argument I poked 50 holes in trying to find me and kick my ass. I look at it this way, if one additional person takes 2 minutes to look up facts before posting something, because some internet policeman named ShockFX or Chitownblue or dex called the last guy a retard and pointed out every flaw, then I think while the approach can be questioned, everyone benefits.


March 24th, 2009 at 7:28 PM ^

Arthur: I've always been able to debate any topic and tear down opposing arguments with pinpoint logic

Spence: You want me to debate you?

Arthur: Exactly. We'll pick a topic, and we'll see if I can hold my own.

Spence: Okay, what's the topic?

Arthur: How 'bout this? Should the United States normalize relations with Cuba? You be pro.

Spence: Alright, uh, the Cold War's been over for ten years, Cuba is no longer a threat, but instead could be a valuable ally and trading partner. So it makes perfect sense to normalize relations with Cuba.

Arthur: You moron, what do you know about anything? You a frightened little drone who can't even get a woman. If you're so keen on normalizing something, why don't you start with your face?.....I've still got it!


March 25th, 2009 at 12:04 AM ^

...I've never seen that episdode. But just reading that I laughed. It reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry is dating a Dermatologist and he thinks she is so full of herself when she lectures him about how great it feels to save someone's life. Jerry thinks she is full of crap because "the whole profession is basically 'eh, just put some aloe on it.'" Instead of politely inquiring how she could possibly save a life as a Dermatologist, he abrasively tells her off and says "you call yourself life-saver, I call you pimple popper M.D." Then a patient comes over and thanks her for saving his life...he had skin cancer. So, Jerry realizes he's an asshole. Jerry and the woman see each other again but she says they are through. Jerry asks "Why? Was it the pimple popper M.D.?" She says yes, and then he says, "I still got it!"

Anyway, sorry for the random Seinfeld reference...I totally agree with this poster. I think some of the comments on here and other blogs sometimes are way over the line harsh. This blog should be a place for the rabid, lives-and-breathes Michigan football fan as well as fans who love Michigan football but maybe aren't as knowledgeable about recruiting, schemes, etc and want to learn more... Also, the thing I hate most on blogs is when someone responds to someone by calling them a fag or telling them to go suck a dick or something to that effect. First of all, that is ridiculously childish and just an asshole thing to do. Secondly, I have a gay brother who is a wonderful person and huge Michigan football fan. It pisses me off when people are homophobic assholes on blogs. Especially people associated with my alma mater...University of MIchigan students and alums have more class than that. Leave that crap to the Fuckeyes.

Sgt. Wolverine

March 24th, 2009 at 8:56 PM ^

More often than not, internet comments bear a resemblance to obnoxious political talk radio shows where the host shouts his views and then takes callers who shout their views while he loudly disagrees. And I don't think self-proclaimed "internet policemen" help the problem. It may take some restraint to be civil while disagreeing with somebody else, but that actually does benefit everybody.

In summary: so somebody is wrong? RELAX.


March 24th, 2009 at 10:02 PM ^

Feels like once the team starts playing and the season is under way, the comments become less abrasive. My favorite thing about this site is the haste with which my fellow posters jump on someone with bad grammar. LOVE IT!!


March 25th, 2009 at 4:03 AM ^

Went to my HS and he's a badass.

I agree 100% with the tone of this post. Attack the argument without making it personal. You may not convince the person you disagree with but you won't distract attention away from the heart of the argument.


March 25th, 2009 at 5:13 PM ^

Is so self-righteous that it makes me want to vomit. The 60 minutes interview that people are talking about was pretty disgraceful actually. When asked a question about his ruling in Bush v. Gore, instead of answering the question, he just said "Get over it! It is so old by now." The man still cannot answer for that decision because the opinion he signed onto completely contradicted his judicial philosophy up to that point. I still cannot believe that ruling. Now, studies have shown that Bush probably would have won the MANDATED BY FLORIDA LAW hand recount. (That's right, Florida law said that a mandatory machine recount be conducted if the election is close enough, but also said that if the machine recount showed the contest to still be within a certain amount of votes, a hand recount is mandatory if one of the candidates requests it. And this is because all of the studies have shown that hand counts are more accurate than machine counts). If he had won that recount, then I would have saluted him as our President, no questions asked. Instead, he subverted the electoral process and deprived us of knowing who the actual winner was for sure. What Scalia and his group did was a disgrace to the Constitution and the rule of law.

That said, in the spirit of this post I respect anyone who disagrees with me. Well, I do anyway, not just because of this long as you have a good argument and don't just respond by calling me a socialist and telling me to "get over it!" Haha. If you say that, then I assume you are Scalia himself. I'm over it now cause Bush is gone, but I will still argue against anyone who thinks Scalia is a good Supreme Court Justice. I guess he's better than Clarence Thomas, I will give you that. But not by much.

His Dudeness

March 25th, 2009 at 9:21 AM ^

To be honest, I automatically think people who disagree with me are idiots. I always ask myself how anyone could even really believe the shit that they believe. I think it is human nature to think people are idiots who don't think the way you do. Now you don't have to tell them you think they are idiots, that is just being a dick, but to think people who disagree with one another don't, at some level, think the other is an idiot is not realistic in my opinion.


March 25th, 2009 at 11:24 AM ^

Going solely from your words, the implication is that either you have never disagreed with your father, mother, sibs, wife, girlfriend, children, and roommates, or conversely, that you think those of this group you have ever disagreed with are idiots. Do you really have that much disdain for those with whom you disagree? "I always ask myself how anyone could even really believe the shit that they believe."

To use examples from the political sphere, you may disagree with Scalia, but does that make him an idiot? You may disagree with Obama, but does that make him an idiot?

By definition, from Webster's, an idiot is "a feebleminded person having a mental age not exceeding three years, an ignorant person, a silly or foolish person." From the definition alone, neither Scalia nor Obama are "idiots."

I suppose if all truth reduced to mathematical axioms on the level of "2 + 2 = 4," your argument would make sense on some level. To reject a truth statement like that is akin to idiocy.

But what about questions like: "Which ice cream is better: butter pecan or rocky road?" or "Who is hotter: Scarlett Johannson or Carmen Diaz?" or "Who is the better QB: Joe Montana or Tom Brady?" or "Who was better: the '89 NC team or the Fab Five?"

These are questions that have some level of subjectivity. There is no pure metric with which you can determine the right answer. You can frame the questions differently, so there is a clear answer. For example, you could ask, who has won the most SuperBowls as a QB: Montana or Brady?" or "Who has won the NC: the 89 UM team or the 92 UM Bball team?"

But part of the fun of being a sports fan and a Michigan fan is arguing and debating questions that are at least somewhat subjective. We don't have a perfect answer to "who was the best Michigan football coach ever?" I suspect that some people would look to Bo and his legacy and overall record, even though he never won a NC. Some would look to Carr and his NC. Some would like to the point a minute teams of 100 years ago. You can make arguments in each direction. But just because someone disagrees with you, do you honestly "always ask myself how anyone could even really believe the shit that they believe?" If that's true, I feel sorry for you. If it's sarcasm, then the sarcasm is a bit too veiled for me.

His Dudeness

March 25th, 2009 at 11:45 AM ^

tl;dr, seriously did I see Cameron Diaz made her way in there? wtf?

To get back to you about what I think you have a problem with I will say that, yes, if you believe something other than what I believe then I think you are an idiot in that area to a certain extent.

As an example: my grandma goes to church every single Sunday. She loves Jesus. She has pictures of Jesus all around her house. I love my grandma. Do I think she is an idiot to believe that she is somehow going to a righteous heaven one day because she pays some guy 10% of her income? Yes I do. Will I ever tell her that? Of course not, she is my grandma and I love her.


March 27th, 2009 at 7:48 AM ^

I don't claim that none of us really knows. I have strong political beliefs that I absolutely think are correct, and the other side incorrect. What I'm trying to say is that believing the other side of the argument doesn't make you stupid.

Of course, as I said in the post, there are stupid people who deserve to be called idiots. But if someone makes a legit argument that is reasoned, then that's ok, As an example, I'd argue strenuously that the current Obama budget plan is the wrong thing for the economy, based on all kinds of evidence. If someone responded with their own interpretation of facts that lead them to believe that Obama is doing exactly what the economy needs right now, he's not an idiot--I'd tell him he's wrong.


March 25th, 2009 at 9:17 PM ^

My guess: your grandma believes and trusts in Jesus, so she gives to the church. Not: she gives to the church, so she can buy a ticket to heaven. anyway, ask her why she gives and why she believes. I'd also guess she'd like to talk to you, and probably would deal with your being brutally honest. & fwiw its none of my business or concern what you or she believes.

oh, & btw, "tl;dr" - thx for teaching me that, good to learn. Another sign of a noob/nerd is 2write2much.

Sgt. Wolverine

March 26th, 2009 at 11:25 AM ^

Not so much hard as it is nearly impossible, especially since the serious posts tend to have the same acerbic tone as the sarcastic posts. There could be a better effort to delineate sarcasm not just here, but most places online; without facial expressions and tone of voice, sarcasm needs some extra help.


March 26th, 2009 at 3:58 PM ^

I'm too old to get the youth culture snarky stuff always. The cynicism does take my breath away. Having a 16yr old kid sometimes helps me follow the 'tude. I am not cool, have never been cool, don't ever want to be cool, but have to at least stayed tuned in enough to follow threads & conversations.


March 25th, 2009 at 12:26 PM ^

Outstanding post StephehRKass.

A person is not an "idiot" merely because that person has a different political leaning than I do; rather, we have qualitative differences.

Spirited debate (in the real world context) creates new ideas that can be beneficial to society. Exchanges lead to creative problem solutions. If everyone adopted a "are you an idiot, or do you agree with me?" mentality, society would be in trouble.

My major problem with the position of His Dudeness: it implies that every person actually believes he is the smartest person in the world when it comes to his or her opinions. In other words, if I automatically call you an idiot for disagreeing with me, then I am assuming I know better than everyone else on that particular topic. This is almost (arguably never) true.


March 25th, 2009 at 9:21 AM ^

You can try, but an Internet community of higher mind is at least 20 years away. I think it will happen -- it is the general evolution of any new medium that it seeks to better refine itself to allow an increasingly selective readership to spend their reading time on higher-quality material.

Keep calling for higher minded debate, by all means. But understand, trolls, jerks, personal attacks, etc. are part and parcel of a free media.

You can't change people; you can only regulate them. In other words, either get better at ignoring those who don't post on your level of discourse, or institute better controls on who can post and where. There are some good ways of doing this, and this board uses some of them. Just remember, the presence of trolls and bitches at least lets you know that nobody's ideas are being suppressed.


March 25th, 2009 at 2:43 PM ^

I remember the Scalia piece on 60 minutes, and was also intriuged by how such political opposites can have such a close friendship. But we see this all the time, particularly during election season, when we might hear a Democrat proclaim that he and his Republican opponent are "great friends." Personally, nearly my entire friend-base falls on the same side of the political fence as I do. Even those that don't are more moderate, at least socially. My family, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of me. The result: way closer to my friends than to my family. Saddens me. But I will not pretend to believe things that I don't. Sorry... I digress.

Before I discovered mgoblog, I was more inclined to read commentary on mlive. Yeah, I know. Automatic idiot me. ;)
I still do so occasionally, and even post occasionally. But it has gotten BAD there. It takes all of about 2.5 posts before someone has resorted to childish name-calling, often with no mention at all of the topic at hand. I spend considerably more of my blog-reading time at mgoblog now, because despite the inevitability of troll-dom, I find a much larger percentage of posts here to be intelligent, reasonable, humorous, entertaining, etc.... and therefore more worth my time.

Of those mlive posters.... I've often wondered, in light of anonymity, how much fun would it be to gather a half-dozen or so of them and put them in a room, each with a name tag bearing their screen name...or names, as the case may be... and just see what happens.