Develop your ability to deal with a formidable Karen.
This is an exercise that I give to students in my debate class. It is intended to help them identify dishonest debate tactics and develop an ability to counter similar attacks.
The coach threw an 18-year old boy off the high school varsity athletic team because of bad behavior.
The coach told the principal what had happened. The principal told the coach that this boy had been a trouble maker in the local schools since first grade. The principal warned the coach that the boy’s mother would probably come in to attack the coach in defense of her son’s ambitions to play on the team. So the coach recounted a list of all the boy’s transgressions on the team, and prepared himself mentally.
Here is the discussion between the coach and the boy’s mother.
The mother came to see the coach, and asked him why her son had been kicked off the team.
The coach recounted a list of all the boy’s transgressions on the team.
The mother could not deny that these transgressions were serious misbehaviors, so she responded by demanding, “How did YOU behave when YOU were 18?”
The coach responded with the true statement, “I was a cadet at West Point Military Academy when I was 18.”
The mother immediately shot back, “This isn’t West Point!”
The coach was made speechless by her reply, but he soon replied, “That’s right, but I still have to manage this team with as much discipline as possible, if we expect to win games this season. Your son has not responded well to discipline, so I have to exclude him in order to give the other boys a fighting chance.
The mother said, “So! You’re just thinking of yourselves, at my son’s expense! What a lousy bunch of $#!%& heads you are! I’m going to talk to your superintendent about this!”
- Identify the tactics of the coach.
- Identify the tactics of the mother.
- Identify the tactical mistakes of the coach.
- Identify the tactical mistakes of the mother.
- Who do you believe “won” this debate?
- The tactics of the coach include…
- Facts and logic: The coach is conveying the facts to the boys’ mother, and the logical conclusion that the boy should be kicked off the team.
- Scapegoating: The coach is blaming the boy for the lack of discipline and the team’s future poor performance.
- Slippery Slope: The coach assumes that if the boy stays on the team, then the team will lose the season. (This is not a slippery slope if the coach has years of experience.)
- The mother is relying on dishonest tactics. Among them are…
- Two instances of Abusive Ad Hominem.
- Red Herring: She changed the subject, and she changed the meaning of the coach’s answer.
- Appeal to Authority: Threatened to go talk to the Superintendent.
- Straw Man: Distorted her son’s misbehavior by comparing him to the coach.
- The coach was proud of his experience at the military academy, and since he could rely on it as being a true fact, he accepted the mothers abusive Ad Hominem into the debate, thinking that his reply was a great answer to a woman who was trying to prove that all 18-year old boys have the same delinquent behavior as her son.
- The mother’s tactical mistakes are…
- She failed to supply a rational justification for the boys’ behavior.
- She asked a question to which she did not already know the answer.
- She failed to admit her errors and refine her strategy in the debate.
- This woman is a world-class dishonest witch, which may explain why her son has a bad reputation!
- Can you identify any other tactics or fallacies?
- How would you have dealt with this woman?
- LATV (Humberto Guida): Karen: The Origins of a Meme (2020 April 6)
- Tom Luongo: We have become a Karen nation (2020 April 22)
- Babylon Bee: Facebook Introduces Karen Reaction Button (2020 May 1)
- Adam Piggott: OK, Karen. (2020 May 1)
- Dark Brightness: Karen, meet Banhammer. (2020 May 2)
- Spawny’s Space: Karens (2020 May 3)