Discuss or Argue? — a short story

Posted on 2018 August 19


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A man must be excessively stupid, as well as uncharitable, who believes there is no virtue but on his own side. – Joseph Addison

“So, what do you think about climate change?”

“You mean, which side am I on?”


“In my experience, nobody who asks that kind of question ever wants to hear my views. They just want to know if I’m one of the good guys or the bad guys.”

“Not me. Go ahead, speak your mind.”

“As it happens, I’m inclined to agree that human activity, especially the tons of carbon dioxide we inject into the skies, is probably causing the atmosphere to warm up.”

“Then you understand we’re in an emergency.”

“Not necessarily–”

“Look, climate change is a world-destroying crisis! People have to understand the urgency or we’re toast! Literally!”


“This is serious! Either you see the problem or you are the problem.”

“I am? You know, people on both sides tell me that. And I will bet that if you accuse swing voters of causing harm simply because they haven’t made up their minds, you’re gonna lose the next election.”

“But this stuff’s important! We need to rouse the slumbering masses.”

“So basically everyone who doesn’t agree with you is asleep at the wheel.”

“Basically, yes. Of course.”

“So there’s no possibility of discussing alternative scenarios on dealing with global warming?”

“It’s a frickin’ emergency! Don’t you get it? People tell me you’re smart! C’mon!”

“How is it smart to shout at someone who might have new and different ideas on how to solve the problem?”

“Because we already know the answer! We must force the corporations to stop pouring pollutants into the air. The fat cats are ruining the planet just to make a few more bucks. It’s crazy. It’s evil.”

“A moment ago you asked for my views on climate change. Do you understand now why I said that nobody who asks wants to hear my opinion? That they just want to know which team I support?”

“Okay, fine. I’ll listen.”

“Uh, you just said ‘we already know the answer’. Does this mean you’ve changed your mind and you don’t really know the answer?”

“The answer is obvious! But go ahead, speak your piece. You haven’t said why you don’t believe in climate change.”

“Wait a minute. I already agreed with you that the temp is rising. Yet you think I don’t agree?”

“If you really understood, you’d be as angry as I am. You wouldn’t be saying ‘probably’. You’d be up in arms.”

“It sounds like there’s only one acceptable answer to your question. I find it’s hard to have a discussion when my comments are being graded for correctness.”

“Dammit, climate change is important! There’s no time to muck around and delay with chit-chat when the survival of the planet is at stake!”

“Then you should get out there and start campaigning.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I’m busy. I have a lot of pressure at work, and we have another kid on the way, so I’m completely swamped.”

“Then climate change isn’t that important?”

“Yes, it’s important! That’s what I’ve said all along! Haven’t you been listening?”

“It seems to me that, if it were a real emergency, you’d drop everything and spend all your time pitching in.”

“Oh, the hell with it. I can’t talk to you. You’re an idiot.”

“Frankly, I agree. I am an idiot. I keep forgetting that ‘political discussion’ is an oxymoron.”


“Nobody can discuss politics. That’s a complete waste of time. All anybody can do with politics is argue.”


Posted in: Fiction, Humor, Politics