Commenter Oblio offers some suggestions for those occasions when one is trapped in those oh-so-pleasant dinner table or cocktail party or book group discussions with verbally aggressive liberal friends and acquaintances.
I think they bear highlighting:
There are some simple techniques for dealing with dinner party blowhards and social bush-bashers/obamatrons.
1. When they start ranting, just say “Now, now” in a genial tone of voice with a smile on your face. It is amazingly effective, and lots of people will want to talk to you afterward.
2. When someone offers a bumper-sticker sentiment as a deep thought on some issue of the day, ask “Do you study that closely?” in a mild manner. Most often, there will be stunned silence followed by a hasty change of topic.
3. If someone wants to rant on after #2, just keep asking questions about where they get their information, their views of the implications of their position, how they do the cost/benefit analysis, their response to some authority’s (particularly some liberal authority’s) criticism of their position, etc. Force them to clarify their points. In most cases they start embarrassing themselves within about 45 seconds. Very few come back for this treatment twice.
4. Restate their positions without euphemism and in the clearest possible terms: remember Orwell on how people would react to Oxbridge types defending Stalin’s purges if the apologists had to say, “I support killing people when you can get good results by doing so.” It is very gratifying to see how uncomfortable social liberals get when you strip away the euphemisms. Someone will change the topic within 30 seconds.
5. Avoid stating your own position or contradicting the blowhard. If asked whether you agree with the blowhard’s point, you can say no and give two or three reasons why not, then stop. You are not obligated to make a case FOR the opposite, and you shouldn’t bother to ask the blowhard whether he agrees with you. That’s OK, because reasonable people can disagree. If he really pushes for your opinion, you can point out that you weren’t the one who gave the strong opinions in the first place, and you only asked questions.
6. If really pressed, I quote my mother, who told me “There are three things you shouldn’t discuss in company: politics, sex, and religion.” Not too surprisingly the most dangerous and explosive topics manage to combine all three.
The trick in all cases is to stay calm and not to take anything that is said personally, no matter how stupid or offensive it might be. The key is to make social embarrassment work against the blowhard. If male, the blowhard is usually making a dominance display. In that case, refusing to be bullied without losing your temper is normally enough to make him look pretty small. If female in mixed company, the blowhard is probably signaling “in-group” membership: the underlying message might be “I want to belong.” Proceed accordingly.
I have lived for most of the last 30 years in deepest Blue State, academic, ecclesiastical, NGO, and European circles, and I can testify that these tactics are easy, painless, and highly effective.