4. Challenge them on mischaracterizing your statements.
This one’s very important. Make sure you carefully read what they’re saying, and don’t allow them ANY leeway in re-stating your positions. (You can re-state theirs if you like, because it’s their responsibility to call you on it – they almost never will.) Don’t allow them to change your meaning or make any assumptions.
In the election thread, I asked numerous times for a specific substantive example of what was frightening about the elections (after my opponent had exhausted the whole “I didn’t mean you were a teabagger” thing). Reproduced here in all its original glory is the next response:
“What point that you have raised would you like substance to accumpany my response? You’ve raised very little points in which I feel like you care to hear another side of. You’ve made it clear that you only listen to one side of an issue anyway. I guess I didn’t know we were debating anything. Are we? what are we debating? The fact that the election results were frightening?”
I know what you’re thinking. This guy is providing an entire orchard of low-hanging fruit! Sometimes one doesn’t know where to begin, there’s so much to be harvested. Unmitigated stupidity is difficult to ignore, but in this case, the obvious immediate point that needed to be made was that he had mischaracterized my statements by trying to paint me as uninterested in his opinion – when I had just asked for his opinion. Simply stating this was the best response.
Next: pants on fire…