Ever heard normal people frustrated with debate jargon? They’re not the first. Check out this poem by Samuel Butler (best read aloud).
We highlighted the cynical crux.
The Logic and Rhetoric of Hudibras
Samuel Butler (1616-1680)
HE was in logic a great critic,
Profoundly skilled in analytic;
He could distinguish, and divide
A hair ’twixt south, and south-west side,
On either which he would dispute,
Confute, change hands, and still confute.
He’d undertake to prove, by force
Of argument, a man’s no horse;
He’d prove a buzzard is no fowl,
And that a lord may be an owl,
A calf an alderman, a goose a justice,
And rooks committee-men and trustees.
He’d run in debt by disputation,
And pay with ratiocination.
All this by syllogism, true
In mood and figure, he would do.
For rhetoric, he could not ope
His mouth, but out there flew a trope;
And when he happened to break off
I’ th’ middle of his speech, or cough,
H’ had hard words ready to show why,
And tell what rules he did it by;
Else, when with greatest art he spoke,
You’d think he talked like other folk.
For all a rhetorician’s rules
Teach nothing but to name his tools,
But, when he pleased to show’t, his speech
In loftiness of sound was rich:
A Babylonish dialect,
Which learned pedants much affect.
It was a party-coloured dress
Of patched and piebald languages;
’Twas English cut on Greek and Latin,
Like fustian heretofore on satin;
It had an old promiscuous tone,
As if h’ had talked three parts in one;
Which made some think, when he did gabble,
Th’ had heard three labourers of Babel,
Or Cerberus himself pronounce
A leash of languages at once.
This he as volubly would vent
As if his stock would ne’er be spent:
And truly, to support that charge,
He had supplies as vast and large;
For he could coin, or counterfeit
New words, with little or no wit;
Words so debased and hard, no stone
Was hard enough to touch them on;
And when with hasty noise he spoke ’em,
The ignorant for current took ’em—
That had the orator, who once
Did fill his mouth with pebble stones
When he harangued, but known his phrase,
He would have used no other ways.
It’s fun to nerd out about so-called “debate theory,” and impress your debater friends in hallways between round discussing the condo-CP, or whether all three types of inherency are legit, but it’s easy to become so concentrated on identifying the “tool” being used that we stop listening to what’s being said.
Debate is more powerful when you understand that these tools are used to assist us in our argumentation but not be the argument itself.