You Should Know How to Disagree Well

As online debate becomes more and more common I’ve been observing how hard it is for two people to have an effective dialogue without being face-to-face. (Not that all face-to-face debates go well either!) I want to offer several dialogue tips to help you have more effective dialogues in any medium.

Authors note: The embedded image in this post contains very mild language, and the article I’m linking to has language as well.

It’s not always easy to tell why a given online exchange goes badly. Sometimes it just feels like nothing is being accomplished, even if the debaters aren’t antagonistic toward each other.

I think sometimes this is because online debaters are too direct with each other. A significant portion of communication happens nonverbally, and that is all lost online. In my experience, you need to add some niceties and hefty doses of common ground to keep an online dialogue from ending with people just getting angry at each other.

This is too direct.

This is too direct.

But sometimes something else gets in the way, and I think most of the time, one or both people are not disagreeing well. I stumbled upon a wonderful essay by Paul Graham on different ways to disagree with people, in their order of effectiveness. You should read the entire essay, (language warning,) but I’ll summarize it here.

Graham says there is a “disagreement hierarchy” with seven levels, which he illustrates with this pyramid:

The bottom levels are the most common, especially on places like YouTube where commenters just scream (or type in ALL CAPS) at each other, and the top level is the most effective.

I think I see people simply contradicting each other the most often. Instead of responding to the persons argument, they lazily reply by restating what the opposite view is. People on both sides of the abortion debate do this all the time.

Pro-Life Person: What do you think about abortion?
Pro-Choice Person: I think abortion should be legal because of the terrible things that would happen to women since dangerous abortions would keep happening underground.
Pro-Life Person: Well, abortion’s wrong because it stops a beating heart.

Or…

Pro-Choice Person: Why are you trying to make abortion illegal?
Pro-Life Person: I think elective abortion should be illegal because it kills a living, human organism, and I think all human beings deserve an equal right to life because human beings are intrinsically valuable regardless of what they can do functionally.
Pro-Choice Person: Well, abortion should be legal. There’s too many poor people that need abortions right now.

Clearly this method of disagreement is unpersuasive to everybody involved.

Dialogue Tip:

Rise to the challenge of refuting the person’s central point, and if you aren’t prepared to do that, try something crazy: Blow the persons mind by saying, “That’s an interesting point. Let me think about that for a while. Could I email you a few thoughts later?” This is actually a win-win scenario. It prevents you from putting your foot in your mouth or just frustrating the other person, AND it shows you are taking their argument seriously. I would almost suggest doing this occasionally even if you already have a refutation ready. Why? People aren’t used to having their arguments taken seriously anymore. Pro-life people should be breaking down that paradigm.  [Tweet this!]

I strongly encourage you to read Graham’s short essay explaining the different levels of disagreement.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the end of the piece:

You don’t have to be mean when you have a real point to make. In fact, you don’t want to. If you have something real to say, being mean just gets in the way.  [Tweet this]

Question: Have you had a frustrating debate recently? Which of the levels of disagreement was the person using? For bonus points, tell me a story about you using one of the bottom four levels of disagreement.

President

Josh Brahm is the President of Equal Rights Institute, an organization that trains pro-life advocates to think clearly, reason honestly and argue persuasively.

Josh uses speaking, writing and campus outreach to emphasize practical dialogue tips, pro-life philosophy, and relational apologetics.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • NorthStar156

    That was a very good article, although I feel sorry for him for what he must have gone through to attain that knowledge.

    I wish there was a site where people could debate at the higher levels. I tried to start such a site for abortion once, but nobody was interested in doing the work to present a strong case, much less listen to anyone else’s arguments.

    • Ugh, that’s frustrating. Sorry to hear that. I have a friend who admins at this Facebook page. Some good dialogue going on there. I’m just not engaged right now because I don’t have the time. But I know at least a few of the regulars are very open-minded. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pro-Discussion/296688120391943?fref=ts

      I think one of the most important things you could do is become friends with pro-choice people. It’s comparable to the difference between relational evangelism and something more like street evangelism. The latter can be effective with the right people and techniques, but you are more likely to make a strong impact if you have a relationship with somebody. I think getting an open-minded pro-choice friend to agree to meet at Starbucks once a week to discuss the issue and go through good, fair-minded books on the subject would be an optimal situation.

  • Sierra

    Great article. I usually avoid commenting when people post pro choice graphics and things like that on Facebook. instead I private message them and engage that way. It blocks out the 20 other people calling me a woman hater or calling the pro choicer an idiot. But you are right about the tone, especially when someone gets sarcastic. I think that’s the most frustrating part of online debating. I much prefer face to face.

    • Yup, face to face is much more effective. I think private message dialogues like you’re doing are generally better too, especially if more people are jumping in.

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  • Martha

    I engaged an African American lay pastor on the issue of abortion. She pastors a largely Hispanic church. After about 20 minutes of reasoned argument about the issue, she finally said, “Well, I’m pro-abortion. We don’t have a problem with abortions at my church because those people have tons of kids. They breed.” What level of argument is that?

    • Guest

      Probably contradiction (presents the opposing case but does not address any of the points you made, and provides little supporting evidence).

    • Yeah, I think it might even be a counter-argument (contradicts and then backs it up with reasoning and/or supporting evidence) but it’s a REALLY crappy counter-argument. Frankly, it’s hard to hear a comment made about any ethnic group that includes the word “breed” without me thinking that it sounds really racist.

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  • FredWAnson

    Excellent article. The biggest problem that I see with online dialog is what I would call the “pile on” effect. Let me explain . . .

    I’m in Mormon Studies and often I’ll find that if the discussion board is Evangelical you have a bunch of Evangelicals and a smattering of Mormons. The result is that whenever a Mormon posts they get piled on by the Evangelicals.

    Flip it around and the same is true: Evangelicals get piled on by Mormons on Mormon boards.

    Further, the civil voices all often get drown out by the strident ones – Mormon bashing on Evangelical boards is just as common as Evangelical bashing is on Mormon boards – and, of course, atheists love to enter the scrum and bash them all (and vice versa). It’s frustrating beyond words!

    As a result I’m finding online dialog increasingly unproductive, ineffective, and polarizing.

    I’m beginning to wonder if it’s worth the effort at all.

    • Yeah, I’ve seen the same thing happen. When people start piling on I usually bow out and offer the person I was talking with to continue in private messages.

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  • ChristinaDunigan

    I have been running trial balloons on Yahoo Answers to see how prochoicers respond to some questions, and it’s hard to get them to even ADDRESS the question.

    I asked if organizations should use the CDC’s abortion mortality numbers given Lisa Koonin’s demonstrably lackadaisical attitude toward identifying and counting abortion deaths. (I made it plain who Lisa Koonin was and showed some pretty powerful evidence that she’s about as alert to abortion deaths as I am to what outfit Kate Winslet wore to whatever thing she went to last where somebody was taking pictures.)

    One person responded as if the abortion death I used as an example of Koonin’s lack of professionalism was the only legal abortion death ever, and that is the only person who showed any sign of having actually read the example and clicked through to the link. Everybody else just spouts a talking point about abortion being the safest thing ever.

    I tried posting again making it clearer that this question is should organizations continue to use the numbers given their dubious quality, and people STILL won’t answer the question.

  • Crystal

    On another forum, a fellow commenter asked me my position on the legalisation of abortion. Since I wanted to give a fair response, I have decided to post it here.

    @plch,

    Thanks for taking the time to ask; I’ll be happy to answer to the best of my ability. After much thought, I decided to post my comment on this page because I felt it was fairly noncontroversial and I’m sure you’d enjoy reading through the article on your spare time if ever you wanted to.

    I think that, if abortion is to be banned, Libby Anne’s proposals in the following article …

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2016/11/what-obligations-accompany-an-abortion-ban.html

    … must also be enacted, plus laws ensuring that women cannot be tried for miscarriages and can be allowed abortion if their lives are threatened (such as carrying a dead baby, or when they both cannot reasonably survive and triage might not work such as in the
    case of an ectopic pregnancy or possibly cancer), superior medical alternatives to abortion that honour bodily autonomy and permit the child to live at the same time (someday these might even be used in life-of-the-mother situations one day), contraception, substantial adoption reforms, social safety nets (which could have been what Libby Anne was referring to in her article) including maternity leave and daycare centers, sex education (which would necessarily include altering our attitudes toward sex, menstruation, and pregnancy) and just all in all helping women with their pregnancies so they don’t feel alone and they can receive a good start. I will quote Hillary Clinton “It takes a village to raise a child”. Would you agree with at least some of these solutions, and if so, why?

    I am genuinely curious – do you think it is possible for some prolifers to have good reasons for their positions? Also, do you believe it – and please forgive me if my wording is awkward – is possible to agree with some of what a prolifer says over some of the causes behind abortion, like employment disadvantages for women who choose to keep their babies, for instance (no maternity leave, struggling through college) or women being shamed for pregnancy outside of wedlock? I’d be very interested in hearing what you think about these kinds of issues, because I believe I have fairly good reasons for my beliefs but I want to be sure you’re comfortable with my sharing them as well.

    While I have always been, and still am, of the opinion abortion should not be legal, my conversations with legal abortion advocates have made me seriously consider what the other side has to say as well so I appreciate thoughtful discussions regarding this topic so I can have a more well-rounded view. If you wish to respond to this comment, please feel free to do so, with good counterarguments; I hope that I am not simply stating my view lazily or attacking you if you happen to hold a different opinion, but rather explaining where I’m coming from as best I can. I’d really appreciate hearing your input, whether you agree or disagree and why. Also, Libby Anne wrote such a good article I’m sharing it on Josh Brahm’s site. I hope this has been a reasonable, honest and non-confusing answer (in other words that I have stated my position clearly) and if not please let me know.

    • plch

      I think you well find that the great majority of pro-choice people, me included, are favorable to all measures you mention, and possibly a few more, that would help minimize abortion and help people taking care of their children. We also generally agree about the causes of at least some of the abortions. But we are still pro-choice, we still think that making abortion illegal is a very wrong decision and a counterproductive one if your intent is to save lives.

      Because, even the best possible world (and we don’t live in one) there would be always be some unwanted pregnancies and it’s better for everyone if the women involved have the freedom to chose if to keep them or not. No questions asked, nor by doctors neither by the police. Because otherwise things become very messy and complicated and many women, to avoid the hassle of people deciding for them, will decide to get an illegal abortion, which is usually either unsave or expensive or both.

      I don’t know if you have heard about it but recently in Poland a law was discussed about completely banning abortion (which is already very restricted in Poland). A huge strike was organized and thousands of women went it street to block this law (and they were successful). I read a few interviews with the women that protested.

      One was a young nurse, when she was in her teens her uncle raped her and she became pregnant. Now, this was both rape and incest, in both cases the present Polish law allows abortion (I don’t know how you feel about this) BUT this would have meant for her to get to the police and denounce her uncle for rape and she *couldn’t* do that (she was 15). But she could not keep the pregnancy either. And so she got a coat hanger abortion risking her life.
      Remember this story when you say you would like to forbid abortion but in a few cases. Coat hanger abortion is what will happen, even in a world where contraception was easier to get and mothers and babies got all the possible help.

      Another story: a woman has just realized she’s expecting, she’s happy since she was trying to get pregnant. A few days afterward her pre-schooler child has a frightening incident, doctors save him but say that he’ll need constant help in the following years to be able to at least partially recuperate and be able to walk and speak again. The woman doesn’t think she could care for both a young baby and her older child that now needs his parents more than ever. She decides to get an abortion although she really desidered that pregnancy.
      This really happened, that pre-schooler is now my husband. Since this happened in communist Czechoslovakia, my mother in law had to get in front of a political/medical commision to be approved for an abortion and she was able to get one.

      …I could write more stories but now I have no time, anyway, I want to answer your question: I believe that pro-life people can be pro-life for the best reasons, not because they want to punish women, think sex is sinful, etc. etc.. but, in the end it doesn’t really matter because the results are the same: other people deciding if a woman can or cannot terminate a pregnancy (infringing her bodily autonomy) and women getting unsafe illegal abortions.

      • Crystal

        I have been thinking about your reply for a while, and have decided to address your points as best I can. I am not out to win anything in this discussion, but rather to answer your questions and engage any
        points you might raise in response to this reply. I post this with hesitation, understanding that I don’t know everything and that I could have gotten something wrong (even one of my three premises on which this comment is based), but I also know that I tried to be accurate and answer fairly so please forgive me if I said something incorrect. Furthermore, since my reply hasn’t been loading I will separate it into two parts.

        Part 1:

        Before I proceed, I read your stories. I can understand that the situations you raised would be extremely difficult for someone to find themselves in, and I can understand why they did it, especially in the case of the rape victim. I understand that pregnancy is a biological
        situation like no other, because as prolifers are fond of saying, there are TWO PEOPLE affected in an abortion, and the vast majority of times one of the parties dies when an abortion is performed and this result cannot be changed (by that I mean, no matter how it is done, it takes life); if it is not, more often than not one party can be substantially disadvantaged and this result needs to change. I acknowledge the concern that laws making abortion illegal can cause problems for women, such as investigating for miscarriages (El Salvador being a prime example of this) and women dying or becoming gravely ill
        if they do obtain abortions illegally or self-abort (although I advocate for
        laws because I believe they will save more lives than measures without laws, I will also state these are personal concerns of mine especially as I know of a couple of heartwrenching cases dealing with the latter point I raised), and I believe prolifers need to address these concerns satisfactorily rather than dismissing them because I do not want to see either the woman or the embryo/fetus hurt in an abortion, regardless of whether it is legal or not. Also (I want to think about this part more because it’s a very new idea that’s taken root in my mind) I take inspiration from activists against the crime of human trafficking on the following point: “In 2003, the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons established a universal trafficking definition and set a goal for countries to prevent and combat
        trafficking and assist victims” – https://www.themuse.com/advice/whats-being-done-to-stop-human-trafficking – and now also believe that laws need to be made that assist women seeking abortions so they can have the best opportunities available to them to carry that child to term or have it transferred to a device that will sustain the child for them so they don’t have to carry it anymore (the second solution is in the future, I admit), have it looked after if they cannot or don’t want to look after it themselves, and if they do sustain an injury from an illegal abortion that they won’t be afraid to get help for that injury. Furthermore, I acknowledge the horror of rape and the extreme lack of education on the matter, and have made it one of my personal goals to confront rape culture wherever I see it and educate people on the harm of false
        assumptions about rape. One of my mentors into liberalism, Samantha Field (have you heard of her?), was raped and it is partially through her writings that I learned what a terrible and damaging crime it was.

        That being said, I’d like to zone in on this sentence: “…we still think that making abortion illegal is a very wrong decision and a counterproductive one if your intent is to save lives” because this seems to be the major premise of your reply. On what grounds can one
        assert such a principle? For this belief I have a few counter-arguments that I hope will help explain my view:

        1) If legal abortion advocates believe abortion is morally acceptable, why do they want abortions reduced? While I am pleased that most legal abortion advocates do wish for abortion reductions, I find it puzzling that they would call it a necessary *evil* (and other similar terms) and support it anyway. If it is necessary, why is it referred to with such discomfort (correct me if I’m wrong but I do believe terms like “necessary evil” imply strong emotional and moral discomfort with the practice)? I’m sure you’ve heard the slogan “legal, safe, and rare” –
        if it is legal (thus implying that it is a morally acceptable act to
        participate in), why should it be rare? I say that if abortion is morally
        acceptable and the unborn is not a person I should have as many as I please, because in such a scenario it is a morally valid choice and there is no need to regret it anymore than if I got my tooth pulled out or my appendix removed.

        2) There are studies that have been put out, even by trusted sources like JAMA and other public journals that prove the exact opposite of this assertion, and I quote from the following link: http://blog.secularprolife.org/2016/12/bad-abortion-choice-science.html#comment-3063843549

        “https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1508542/
        — Found that fertility rates went down when abortion was legalized in states before Roe.

        https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/418044
        — Found that Mississippi’s waiting period law resulted in a 12% drop in
        abortion among residents after accounting for women who traveled out of state. (My words – this one is a bit of a double-edged sword though, because it also mentions an increase in late-term abortions)

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9551373
        Found that mandatory counseling before an abortion in Singapore was associated with a drop in the abortion rate.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22622483
        This study doesn’t analyze the effects of abortion restrictions on rates, but thought it was intereting because it found that women living in states with more restrictive laws (specifically Medicaid restrictions or waiting period) were less likely to be hospitalized from abortion complications.”

        An additional list of studies shows the following results, as referenced by and partially quoted from this commenter: http://blog.secularprolife.org/2015/06/insight-into-american-moral-compass.html#comment-2107135107

        A study in Ireland …

        http://www.jpands.org/vol18no2/calhoun.pdf

        … showing the following results:

        “In England, around one-third of the women, at current rates, are likely to experience abortions. But in both the Irish jurisdictions [Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland] this proportion is much lower, less than 10%.”

        Before anyone out there reading this page shouts ‘But Irish women go to Britain for abortions,’ they should see the study. The study examined hospital records from England, Wales, Scotland and the Netherlands and found that yes, many Irish women go to those places. But many
        do not, and their children live out their lives. The Irish numbers include
        all the women previously noted in Table 1 who obtained abortions elsewhere.”

        An article in the New York Times discussing a study on abortion restrictions …

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/magazine/study-women-denied-abortions.html

        … says as follows: “About 5 percent of the women, after they have had the baby, still wish they hadn’t. And the rest of them adjust.” (Now I’m not saying that the feelings of the 5% who wished they hadn’t had the baby should be invalidated, at all, especially as I understand that parents who wished they had not become parents do need to be allowed to honestly express their concerns and feelings about these issues because our current culture insists that people should be happy parenting and hide any negative feelings they have toward the process, which smacks of a double standard to me especially considering that
        abortion is currently legal, so I very much want parents who don’t want to be parents to be able to share their perspectives on parenting; I am simply quoting the results of the study and yes, I recommend you read the whole article for yourself. As for my personal opinion I believe adoption services need to be reformed and superior technological alternatives that respect life and bodily autonomy need to be invented so women will have a wider range of choices and not be forced to raise children if they don’t want them, or even undergo the process of pregnancy if they don’t want to; the only difference would be that the children won’t die because the mother didn’t want them if society chose not to legalise abortion any longer). That being said (and I quote from the comment), “[t]he NY Times article (linked to above) about
        that study says: ‘About 20 percent of the turnaways received an abortion elsewhere.’ So out of the studied group of women who were denied an abortion by the law, 80% obeyed the law and did not opt for an illegal abortion.”

        Another study in Chile mostly discussing maternal mortality rate indicates that …

        http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0036613

        “Chile’s abortion prohibition in 1989 did not cause an increase in the MMR in this country. On the contrary, after abortion prohibition, the MMR decreased from 41.3 to 12.7 per 100,000 live births –a decrease of 69.2% in fourteen years. Excluding ectopic pregnancy, the absolute risk of death due to unspecified abortion is one in two million women at fertile age. Our study indicates that improvements in maternal health and a dramatic decrease in the MMR occurred without legalization of abortion. This does not imply that there are no illegal or clandestine abortions in Chile. Rather, current abortion mortality ratio and
        recent epidemiologic studies of abortion rates in this country [62]–[64]
        suggest that clandestine abortion may have been reduced in parallel with maternal mortality and may have currently reached a steady state based on stable ratios between live births and hospitalizations by abortion. It is expected that any major increase in the magnitude of clandestine abortions should be necessarily followed by an increase in abortion hospitalizations [34], [64]. For example, in 1960, when the leading cause of mortality was abortion, there were 287,063 live births and 57,368 hospitalizations from abortion (whether spontaneous or induced), representing a 5:1 ratio [65]. In the last decade, the ratio between live births and hospitalizations from abortion has remained relatively stable at approximately 7:1 (Table S8, Appendix S2). Consequently, it can be suggested that the total number of abortions (whether spontaneous or induced) have not substantially increased
        [62]–[64], [66].”

        When interviewed, the author of the study said, “[F]rom the perspective of protecting human life from the very beginning, obviously, abortion restriction saves many lives, in contrast to countries where elective — on demand — abortion is allowed, because in these countries all the unborn lose their lives.” –https://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/a_ground_breaking_abortion_study_from_chile

        A 2012 study …

        https://www.nber.org/papers/w18338

        indicates the following (the study discusses when abortion was legal only in New York): “We estimate that abortion rates declined by 12.0 percent for every hundred miles a woman lived from New York in the years before Roe.

        There is little doubt that a reversal of Roe would have a substantial impact on abortion and birth rates in US.”

        Also, I quote, “In 2005 the Los Angeles Times interviewed patients at an
        abortion clinic: ‘She regrets having to pay $750 for the abortion, but
        Amanda says she does not doubt her decision. ‘It’s not like it’s illegal. It’s not like I’m doing anything wrong,’ she says.” – http://www.truth-out.org/archive/item/58965:offering-abortion-rebirth

        Here is another quote from a very informative comment (I suggest that you read the whole comment because it contains a lot more data dealing with many topics including this one): “With that being said, there are a few studies that take a more rigorous approach. One study from Eastern Europe, following the fall of the Soviet Union, found that restrictive abortion laws corresponded with a 25% decline in abortions:

        https://www.dartmouth.edu/~dstaiger/Papers/2004/LevineStaiger%20JLE%202004.pdf

        Furthermore, even the Guttmacher Institute is willing to admit that ending public subsidies for abortion can reduce it by up to 35% among eligible women:

        https://www.guttmacher.org/about/gpr/2007/03/heart-matter-public-funding-abortion-poor-women-united-states

        Other (pro-life) researchers estimate that the Hyde Amendment prevented over two million abortions:

        https://lozierinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/OP_hyde_9.28.3.pdf

        Clearly, making abortion more difficult to get means that not as many women will have abortions.” – Quoted from https://blog.equalrightsinstitute.com/bodily-rights-arguments-necessitate-extremism/#comment-3004441047

        That is only some of the wealth of evidence proving my point; some of the sources are prolife but others are definitely not. In short: the moment a government legalises something, it has placed its stamp of endorsement on the action, item, etc. Since people believe what is legal = what is morally valid, if something is legal, people will generally be more likely to participate in it than if it is not (one might mention the illegal drugs issue as an exception but I speak of general issues here).

      • Crystal

        Part 2:

        3) I know of no other movements throughout history that worked this way – not the move to abolish slavery throughout the British Empire or the United States, not women’s suffrage, not the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, not the LGBTQ rights movement, not the animal rights/welfare movements, not the movement(s) against human trafficking. Indeed, one would think that the strategy of *only* addressing the root causes behind the injustices these movements and others like them faced, *without* passing laws to stop the injustices remaining legal, or grant new rights to/protect existing rights of the oppressed group in question, is utterly laughable because they would know that the efforts these groups made and make would have no teeth without laws to back up their efforts. Rather, these movements and many others like them used some to all of the following strategies, and in some cases some strategies got employed before or after others so the way every movement operated/operates is different but the basic principles of passing laws + tackling root causes through education +
        raising public awareness seem to remain the same. I don’t know all the
        histories behind all the movements I listed but I do have a fair idea of the way social movements generally work and I have observed social activist movements seem to follow these principles (I checked to make sure this third point was correct, and it seemed to be; yet if I got anything incorrect on any of this third point regarding social activism, feel free to correct me):

        a) Change hearts and minds through education and encouragement of empathy for the oppressed factions; in other words, show the “human face”* of the marginalised individuals and educate people about why their cultural attitudes were so morally wrong (*I put this in quotes because animals are not humans but animal-rights activists campaign for their rights anyway)

        b) Employ social pressure on society and the government to create change, sometimes through public activism and lobbying and social organisation, other times through more private and modest measures

        c) Campaign for, and if possible pass, laws to this effect

        In short, these movements tended to, though not always, combine the strategy of educating their members on the root causes of the evils they fought against and how they could work to change societal attitudes on these issues, providing alternatives to the harmful practices (in some cases, but in others the second measure I listed was totally unnecessary), and campaigning for laws to protect the oppressed. They understood that laws alone would change nothing unless the hearts and minds of the people were changed; thus they made every effort to educate the public on the situations that befell the marginalised groups and encourage empathy for the oppressed, thus creating a change of social attitudes. At the same time the activists also understood that the rights of the oppressed factions they fought
        for were meaningless unless they were protected by law; hence, their vigorous appeals to the government to pass laws protecting them from injustices.

        For instance, why do the LGBTQ rights movement insist on measures to educate people about bullying? Also why did SNCC of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement assist in freedom rides and sit-ins (and that was not the only activity they engaged in to my knowledge)? Why did Alice Paul and her fellow suffragists picket President Wilson during the war to gain the vote for women? Why did Wilberforce dedicate years of his
        time to pushing for laws making the slave trade, then slavery, illegal *and* spend his time (along with his fellow abolitionists) educating people on the evils of the trade? Why do brave South Korean activists like Nami Kim take on the cruel traffic of dog’s flesh by not only employing efforts to educate people of the evil but also using the power of law to back their work up (and yes I sign as many petitions as I can and I plan to do more to help these poor unfortunate animals in the future)?

        I apologise but I must split it again as it won’t load.

      • Crystal

        I might have to come back later and finish my thoughts; they are NOT LOADING so please be patient.

      • Crystal

        It doesn’t matter – I’ve shortened my third part, lengthened it, etc, but it still won’t load. I will keep trying.

        • plch

          I have still to read the totality of your comments for various reasons, I hope to answer soon.

      • I’m attempting to paste part 3 of Crystal’s response on her behalf, because it wasn’t working for some reason. I’ll try to figure out what the problem was.

        —————————

        Part 3:

        Here is a quote from the website http://koreandogs.org/:

        “At present, dog-meat consumption in South Korea is NOT LEGAL. Yet the government and general public basically ignore its presence and allow it to continue.

        Some people believe a solution to the social, environmental, and health problems of the illegal dog meat industry is to legalize it. However, legalizing dog eating will do nothing to stop the cruelty. It would only become more widespread and open. And it would be impossible to police. Dog farmers will not want extra social responsibilities, regulations, and costs so they would likely continue to farm illegally anyway.

        By simply ignoring the issues associated with the dog meat industry, the government can avoid costs of policing it, avoid moral debate, and avoid any backlash from farmers and dog eaters. The government is able to do nothing because the majority of Koreans show a profound indifference to both the law and moral principles concerning the dog-meat industry. With an indifferent government and general public, dogs are still being brutally tortured and eaten as if it were legal.”

        If the activists chose to apply the logic of “I’m personally opposed but I will allow it for the sake of necessity and national pride, and any laws seeking to remove government sanction from or regulating the practice will only cause harm anyway” then they wouldn’t be very successful, would they? How about slavery; would it have become illegal and unthinkable if the people of that generation had chosen to take such an attitude toward the problem? Why, then, should we apply such logic to abortion?

        That being said – IF you discover information about any other movement than abortion that focused *only* on dealing with the root causes of the societal problem and possibly employed education on the societal problem *without* passing laws to reduce the problem at all, as well, and such people were successful in their efforts to protect human life or human rights, please bring it forward, because I would like to hear about other movements besides abortion that did not use the law to assist them in their reforms if they do indeed exist.

        To conclude, I believe three things (after taking the viewpoints of both sides into account and carefully weighing the evidence): that laws are necessary to protect unborn life *and* that any prolifer who wishes to make laws should consider the potential downsides of the laws carefully so they can improve their laws and prevent these downsides from occurring as much as they possibly can (for instance, writing into the law that women cannot be penalised for miscarrying is definitely a measure I would recommend especially as the evidence shows such a breach of justice can occur in the name of protecting the unborn person); in short, the hard circumstances deserve adequate and absolute acknowledgement even while they do not supersede the necessity of legal protection for unborn persons. Last but not least (and I mean this respectfully and truthfully), legal abortion advocates can hold the position they do for the best reasons, not because they delight in taking innocent human life, or think prolifers are evil (and a multitude of other reasons), but rather because they want to show respect to women’s rights, etc.; but, in the end it doesn’t really matter because the results are the same: other people deciding if an unborn person has the right to live or not, with this attitude more often than not leading to a death that could have been avoided and retaining the status quo rather than doing something positive about the situation that could have raised the quality of life for both the mother and child involved.

        Now that I’ve attempted to answer your main premise, I would like to pose a query of my own – what philosophies or practical experiences have you faced that led you to adopt abortion legality into your belief system, and why did they bring you to this place? I realise you mentioned your mother-in-law in one of your stories, but I’m asking if you personally experienced (or thought through) anything that led you to accept abortion legality as the greatest good for society (only if you feel comfortable answering that question, that is). Also, if your mother-in-law’s story was an influence on you, how deeply did it impact you, and why?

        I notice that in your last couple of sentences you mentioned that abortion laws would infringe on bodily autonomy; why did you say that? I ask because I would like to think about your response and answer it as best I can when I get the time (I am definitely not trying to ignore this point although I did not spend time on it because it didn’t seem to be your main argument; if you think I should have addressed this point, however, please let me know). Also, would you be willing to follow along with an unusual thought experiment that can better explain my rationale on a philosophical level, as I only answered with practical reasons in this comment? I hope not only that I was sensitive (as abortion is a sensitive topic for many people) and did not overwhelm you with too long a reply or too much information, but also that I demonstrated openmindedness in my response and engaged your points (or at least your central point) fairly, and if I did neither of these things, please let me know. Thank you for being willing to engage with me; I look forward to having constructive conversations with you in the future, not only on this topic but on many others.

        PS: I will be taking a vacation from online forums for a long time (although I will pop in to comment on something every once in a while) so please don’t be surprised if I don’t reply immediately.

        • I really like the dog eating example, Crystal, as well as how much research you’ve done on the subject. And you give sources! :)

          • Crystal

            Thanks! Just to be clear did you see the whole reply? Also did it follow the example of this article completely?

          • Crystal

            The dog eating industry is a real problem, as you saw in that quote. Many people lose their pets to it, and stray dogs get captured as well. South Korea is a huge trade center for this sort of thing, and AFAIK the animal-rights activists fighting the trade haven’t been violent at all. Prolifers could derive inspiration from them to keep going and not get discouraged :)

            I mean, if abortion is so moral and the baby’s not a person why are we having such strong feelings about it? This issue is not going to go away until something is done for the baby AND the mother!

            You can use all parts of my comment if you like; I hope it will be helpful to you and to anyone else reading it.