I know it is silly, but there is one argument strategy in political debates that is almost guaranteed to make me mad! It goes like this,
"Why are you wasting your time on this peripheral issue when there are so many more important issues that you should be dealing with instead?"
Here is why it usually makes me mad - it is often pure, hypercritical rhetoric. The people who employ it normally do not think that the issue is peripheral at all. In fact, they think it is very important. The strategy in deploying the argument is simply to stigmatize their opponents as people who have lost all sense of proportion.
Example abound. For instance, in the debates in the UK about banning hunting with hounds the dastardly strategy was regularly employed by the pro-hunting lobby. Anti-hunting MPs were constantly castigated for wasting time on a side-issue when big issues such as poverty, education, and health care should be at the top of the agenda.
This was a red rag to a bull for me. Grrrrrrr!!!
Did the Pro-hunting lobby really think that this was an unimportant issue? NO WAY! In fact, the reason that so much time was being 'wasted' on the issue was precisely because the pro-hunting people kept on stretching things out, opposing the bill at every turn. If the matter really was unimportant then they should have let the bill sail through unopposed so that MPs could get on with issues that matter like health care. :-)
More annoying still, the argument strategy works by setting up a false either/or choice - either MPs spend time on issues like hunting or they spend time on issues like health care. Hold on! I have a radical idea! Let's do both! Gosh - might it really be possible for MPs to spend time on more than one issue? Yes - they can and they do. Joy! And if the pro-hunting people were genuinely worried that too much time was being spent on the issue then they should have shut up and stopped opposing the bill!
Don't get me wrong. I am not opposed to hunting - in fact, I am think that there is a reasonable case to be made for not banning it. What I am opposed to is the regular and lazy deployment of an annoying, hypocritical argument.
So my plea is simply this - let's all stop wasting time deploying this peripheral argument strategy and focus on the important matters! (Oooops!)
Now I know that this is more of a scribble than a theological scribble but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do (and if I told you that God told me to say it ... Nah!)