Pro vs. Anti

pro-vs-anti-biotics1

Many political issues end up being framed as “pro vs “anti”. Pro/anti immigration. Pro/anti drugs. Pro/anti choice. Pro/anti life.

But a pro/anti framing is almost always subtly dishonest, though politically effective. When you say you are pro-life, do you really believe people who disagree with you are against life!? When you say you are pro-choice, do you really believe people against you are against choice!?

No, you obviously are talking about life/choice within the context of the abortion debate. You are really pro/anti abortion (or perhaps have an even more nuanced point of view).

But by calling yourself pro-life or pro-choice, you imply that the other side is anti-life-in-general and anti-choice-in-general. It is a subtle, but effective, manipulation of public opinion.

That’s the nature of politics, of course. Each side uses language that makes themselves look good and the other side look bad.

But I think it’s good to remind ourselves that people on the other side of the issue are often rational and well well-meaning, even if they are wrong. They are not anti-choice, they just really believe in the value of a life before birth. They are not anti-life, they just really care about the rights of women.

If you just want to win the debate, by all means make the other side look bad. But to actually change minds, it’s sometimes more effective to acknowledge the merits of the opposing point of view.

October 23rd, 2016 by