Stop Arguing That We’re Arguing

I’ve mentioned here before how much I hate mooting. Yesterday I realized there was a reason for it all. Because mooting is incredibly boring and annoying, but moot judging is immensely enjoyable, and I just played judge for the first time.

Four people, all bound by courtroom etiquette to subservience and extreme politeness. You, as judge, the recipient of this. The joy of catching someone out on a poorly thought out argument, and seeing that “Oh shit, she’s right” look appear on their face as they realize they’re in a fix. Equally, the satisfaction from challenging someone on something just because it’s a challengeable argument, and having them come back strongly in support of their stand with a well-reasoned defence of it.

At the end of the day, I look at what I like about the various relevant activities I enjoy (mooting, debating, drunken conversations…), and realize that what I find fulfilling and enjoyable in every case is the interplay of differing ideas.

The only time I ever enjoy a moot is when the judge questions me, and I then have to respond to his challenges. Otherwise, it’s a one-way speech, and it’s incredibly tedious. I love debating because (in the British Parliamentary format that I do) participation doesn’t begin and end with your speech. You can interject at almost any other time in the course of someone else’s speech, and they can interject during yours.

I love not being agreed with. I love not agreeing with others. I don’t understand why so many people, and so many Singaporeans in particular, seem to think that a discussion of differing opinions is something bad. One of the most annoying things someone could ever say to me is “Look, whatever. You’re right. You win. Can we stop arguing now?”

First of all, the simple fact of differing views doesn’t automatically make something an argument. It’s a discussion. Secondly, I’m not disagreeing with you to “win”, or trump you. I’m arguing because I want to understand how you see the issue. And I want you to understand how I see the issue. Why is that wrong? And if you have a view that can’t stand up to scrutiny, then don’t you want to know that your view isn’t necessarily valid? I’d appreciate being told if I was believing in something for no good reason, and it shouldn’t be my problem if other people are too insecure to handle a similar realization.

This turned into a bit of a rant. Well, all I really intended to say was that I enjoyed my moot judging yesterday. But I guess you probably already figured that out. :)