Preston’s Perspective: College Students Should Learn to Debate Properly

Preston's Perspective: College Students Should Learn to Debate Properly

Graphic design by Aaron Preston/San Jacinto Times

In a day and age where we, as young Americans, are so easily offended and quick to argue, there comes a time where we should learn to properly debate someone; rather than throw insults back at the person making the statement.

Recently, someone told me that our government funded ISIS. I did not deny the claim, I simply asked him for a paper trail. He sent me several opinion articles from hardly-credible news sources, and when I pointed out the flaw, he began to insult me and asked me to provide evidence negating his claim.

This is called argumentum ad ignorantiam, where the person making the claim places the burden of proof on the person who denies or questions the assertion being made.

Knowing this information, I decided to simply not entertain him. He became more and more brash, telling me I was uneducated and calling me a liar, as well as going so far as to disparage this publication.

College students in our time, though, have to learn to properly debate. If someone questions your ideology, you should not call him or her a bigot, nor should you insult their intelligence. It is human nature to ask questions and to be skeptical of seemingly outrageous statements.

If you feel so boldly as to make a statement like “the United States Government playing world police has funded ISIS and other radical groups,” you should be prepared for a whole storm of people questioning where you got said information, and be ready to back it up with reliable references and hard facts.

But, because we are so quick to become offended when someone questions our lifestyle, we lash out. We get angry with the person who dares question us, and this causes our generation to look foolish.

If you want to make a statement, be prepared to defend that statement. Do not reject the use of reason. Be ready to listen to the challenger’s side, and if you are beaten in the debate, know that it is okay to lose a debate and still hold on to your belief. But, do not insult the person. That is not proper debate etiquette.

And, as told to me by the debater himself, “you can make up whatever you want behind a keyboard and a computer screen,” but in my opinion, having an award-winning media outlet to publish it in is so much better.