Not content simply to act like children and throw tantrums at public meetings, the tea parties are also working hard to degrade American discourse in other ways. They very rarely make anything approaching an argument, and when they do it's almost always illogical and invalid.
One of the top types of arguments they try to present is what I'll call the "Jump, Smear, and Lie" technique ("JSL" for short). It's actually a complex move with some variations, but it goes generally like this:
1. The tea partier will interrupt the other person, in one way or another. That might involve simply trying to prevent them from finishing their sentence, or, in the case of a text-based argument, it might involve simply ignoring everything someone says except a sentence fragment.
2. Jump to a (usually false) conclusion about the other person's position, based on not paying attention to everything they have to say. This jumping to a conclusion is usually based on a "you're with us or against us" simplistic view of things where anyone who opposes the tea partiers must be a SOCIALIST.
3. The "action" part of this technique is where the tea partier engages in the tu quoque logical fallacy ("you do it too!" or the like). This part is optional.
3. Then, based on all of the above, the teapartier will smear and lie about the other person, engaging in an ad hominem logical fallacy based on (perhaps intentionally) misunderstanding their position.
Like I said, it's a complex move, but hopefully an example will make it clear.
The opponent will say, "I don't like grape juice beca..." The tea partier will then interrupt them right in the middle of "because" with something like:
"Oh, yeah? Well I saw you drinking some grape juice. I'll bet you like lemon juice just like your idol Barack Obama, don't you? You're as bad as Trotksy! He liked lemon juice too, just like you and Barack Obama and you're all COMMUNISTS!!!"
The tea partier would say that without knowing whether the other person likes lemon juice or not, why they don't like grape juice, or all of the other things that sane people would try to ascertain.
And, in case you think that's an exaggeration, something like it has happened time and again in online conversations with tea partiers. For instance, a couple of days ago I tweeted the following two tweets:
#Teaparty Thinking #1. "I dislike grape juice beca..." "Shut up, LEMONHEAD! You & YOUR buddy Obama drink lemon JUICE just LIKE Trotsky did!" (link)
#Teaparty "Thinking" #2: "waving loopy sign and throwing tantrums didn't work the first time, so let's do more of it." #sgp #tcot #ocra #tpp (link)
After the second tweet - whether responding to that or the first isn't clear - the user "Kriskxx" tweeted this example of "Teaparty Thinking #1":
@24AheadDotCom it 's your side that beat up a black teaparty member wheelchair bound-aren't you proud
Obviously, this site isn't on the "side" of either the teapartiers or of Service Employees International Union goons and I don't think I've ever mentioned that incident because I never bothered to look into it. I also don't support beating up people in wheelchairs, but in the troubled minds of the teapartiers anyone who opposes them must support such actions. None of this matters to the teapartiers: they aren't interested in what anyone opposing them has to say and they aren't interested in debating issues in a civil and grown-up fashion.
Once again, these aren't just chance occurrences: it's a stock technique that the teapartiers have used over and over. As for how to respond, the only way to deal with borderline insane liars is to discredit them in one way or another, such as by publicizing a national figure engaging in this technique.
Tue, 06/22/2010 - 20:42 · Importance: 4