Thursday, March 18, 2010

Forming Counterarguments 101

In January I had posted two articles regarding the visit to Milwaukee by Sister Helen Prejean,
the nun famous for her campaign to abolish capital punishment in the U.S. My first article
announced her then-pending visit; the second talked about it after it had taken place.
In these articles I stated my opposition to the death penalty, my moving from support to
opposition, and my reasons why. A few weeks later, I received a response to each of the postings
in question entered into the accompanying comment boxes, both from the same respondent.

This respondent was a Mr. Dudley Sharp, a person whose name was unfamiliar to me. In his
first response he snotilly admonished, "Fact checking would have helped your article. Start
here:" then gave out a bunch of links to pro-death penalty articles, some of which were written
by Sharp himself. In his second set of comments he just rattled off still more links to the same
bill of fare, this time without any snide remarks.

Being bemused rather than perturbed, I clicked on a few of the links and read some of the
articles. Then I did a Google search on Dudley Sharp and discovered that he is a fairly well-
known advocate of capital punishment, having not only written articles giving his point of
view but also having debated the topic on TV and radio in the United States and Great Britain,
the latter nation having abolished killing murderous convicted criminals quite some years ago.
I also learned that he leads a pro-death penalty group called "Justice Matters". Further, I
found that Sharp was once AGAINST the death penalty, though I have not learned why he
switched his view on it.

Next, I e-mailed Dudley Sharp a letter thanking him for his comments, such as they were,
re: my articles in question. I minded my manners even though he didn't mind his; your loyal
Peasant is a class act. I invited him to have a dialogue on our differences regarding capital
punishment, discussing our views in cyberspace, and perhaps even do so face-to-face should
Sharp ever find himself in Milwaukee or I should travel to Houston where Sharp is based.
I did this on February 8; over a month later I am still waiting for Sharp's reply. I would have
loved to have shared our conversation with you, my wonderful readers, but Dudley Sharp
seems to not have a taste for open discussion but rather for sniping from the bushes.

Hey, Dudley Sharp! A properly structured counterpoint with logic and reasoning, along with
some guts, would have helped your argument. Start here:

Now, one of the purposes of this blog is to generate open, honest discussion of the issues in
the political arena. Your faithful Peasant welcomes comments from those who disagree with
my ideas and opinions, from those who agree with same, and from those who haven't made
up their minds regarding the issues discussed but would like more information. I'm a big boy,
I can take the heat. I have a tough hide, a necessary attribute for one to possess if one is to
participate in politics. But what I won't tolerate from anyone are "drive-by" tactics, nor the
dumping of a bunch of links to articles to serve as the entire counterpoint to a point I make
on a topic. That is neither debate nor discussion; it is tantamount to a bratty child throwing
a snowball at someone then shouting "Nyah, nyah nyah nyah nyaaaaah!" while running off.
If all one can do is to make snide or snotty remarks, or simply dump a bunch of links to
articles without first presenting a structured argument in opposition to any of my articles,
then I have no time for you. I will not let anyone waste your time, my beloved readers, nor
mine. We have bigger fish to fry! We've got no time for cowards and punks!

That said, henceforth any further such "comments" posted in the comment box after subse-
quent postings will be deleted starightaway. Such behavior has no place in a forum, such as
this blog, that is dedicated to the frank and open exchange of ideas. In the meantime, thank
you, my terrific readers for your ongoing support of your favorite Peasant in my efforts to provide this forum. You're the greatest!



  1. More than happy to have an open discussion. I don't recall ever getting a note from you. I don't refuse open discussions.

    My suggestion of fact checking was based upon facts, not snobbery.

    Sincerely, Dudley Sharp

  2. First, thank you for being so gracious off line.

    We start anew.

    From our off line correspondence, I will answer one of your questions, re why I changed my position of the death penalty.

    I studied the death penalty and spoke to experts, throughout the world during that time.

    First, I found that, as a general rule, that the anti death penalty claims, for most of the major topics within the debate were either false or that the pro death penalty positions were stronger.

    Secondly, the reason I switched positions was based upon a philosophical/moral/ethical review of the social contract, why we punish, to what degree and why.