Debating Duck-Duck-Goose↑

So I imagine you are familiar with the game duck-duck-goose? Probably played it as a child. All but one starts out sitting down in a position. Then the one on the outside goes around chooses one person to be the “goose” they then have to jump up and try to run and tag the person before they get back and can sit in the “gooses” now vacant seat. Lots of fun. Well, I’ve recently noticed this phenomena in a few other realms.

About a week ago I was listening to a debate by two constitutional lawyers who were discussing the concept of what is so special about religious freedom. Why do some call it the “first freedom.” Throughout the debate I found myself typically agreeing with one of the speakers more than the other. Then towards the end the other speaker articulated a point that I expected the first to be fully in agreement with. But because of the nature of debate he couldn’t agree. So he had to get up and run around to the now vacant viewpoint of the other speaker. Listening I found it almost humorous.

I also have noticed it in another series of debates. For those in the USA I imagine it has been hard to not have been exposed to some form of “Tebow-Mania.” I’m from Denver and a big Broncos fan so I’ve enjoyed following this story. It becomes humorous though to listen to the “experts” debate what is going on and what the explanation for it all is. They end up picking sides and then as they debate invariably end up switching viewpoints. If the other speaker starts articulating something too close to their own views they run around and take up the now vacated view the other speaker used to hold.

So what? It’s just an observation that in many venues agreement is boring. We don’t really want consensus. Our own viewpoint is so often driven not by consistency with our own principles but just in distance from the person we are debating. We define ourselves not by what we are but by what we are not. We can’t stomach a perceived convergence between our views and someone with whom we “ought” to disagree. In the end we are playing a form of logical or principle duck-duck-goose.

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