|Andy really nailed it in Post #22 when he said:|
....I prefer to call useful anger "righteous" rather than "appropriate". The hotter description reminds us that our anger works best when it lights a fire under the ass of its recipient (including ourselves) to do the right thing. Because righteous anger can stir us and others out of moral complacency into action against evil it is an emotion in service to reason.Moral indignation and outrage in defense of what I tend to call "extreme Western liberalism" is very rare today and, when talking to those you don't know well, often has the effect of shocking them out of their complacency. And it may motivate, inspire, and teach you (as noted above)! Even successful demagogues get thrown off their game and thence forward can't argue as effectively. Anyone anywhere who speaks with great confidence usually impresses and woos others. If a given Objectivist-style thinker attacks with indignation or energetic confidence some "sacred cow" premise of welfare statism, religion, or altruism this often makes the listener pause in disbelief and induces a quiet marveling contemplation. I think it's really valuable at times to show others (and yourself) that you can be confident -- to deliberately strut your stuff -- because this truly suggests to the listener/reader that maybe you know what you're talking about.
Not all of us can muster righteous anger. Not everyone has the full kit of emotions to employ, at least not effectively. So for many anger becomes vengeful wrath, mindless rage, or...[worse].
That's OK. If righteous anger isn't in your playbook, don't use it to oppose evil. Do what you do best. But enough of this tsk-tsking of those who will use fire to burn down the sophistry, the invincible ignorance, the complacency, and cowardice that shelters the vile and the wicked from the disinfecting sunshine of the truth.
That said, when discussing things with those you know pretty well, it seems like a kind of respectful engaging style in which you chat non-confrontationally is usually best. Arguably you should press your point(s) as far as you can go -- watching/gauging the other carefully -- and then back off when you've scored as many points as your skill and the other's virtue allow. Almost always you can resume later. Humor and gentle misdirection seem to work well here (a lot like salesmanship). So does trying hard to understand and then use the other person's already-accepted values and beliefs politely against him.
It occurs to me that what we may be discussing here is the forgotten subject of rhetoric. As late as the late 1800s -- with the great classic liberal Robert Ingersoll -- there were professional speakers, rhetoricians and persuaders. I think we need to get back to that.
Of course...the final answer may just be to tell as much truth as possible and promote as much morality as possible, and not pay too much attention to the listener, but let the chips fall where they may. (This is a point generally made by Andy in this thread and his 'Backbone of Benevolence' article.)
Still, I'd be interested to hear other SOLOists' thoughts on when rage and condemnation persuades people, and when a calm, even-tempered, thoughtful, pervasively reasonable, and even Socratic approach works best.