We all know how hard it can be to convince people of controversial topics. Cannibalism, Y2K survival, aliens in ancient Egypt, small animal sacrifice…some topics have been so roundly dismissed by the public that any attempt to discuss them is met with immediate scorn, if not outright condemnation.
But never fear! If you need to convince your blog readers of something hard to swallow, like that encounter with Bigfoot last year or Jonathan Swift’s modest proposal, here is a blueprint for how to write a post that will have audiences swooning at the logic of your unconventional wisdom!
The blueprint is something I outlined based on the rhetorical strategies of an article entitled “The biological case for Polygyny and marriage of young women.” In it, author Anonymous takes on the daunting task of convincing Christian men that replacing your old-model wife with a new one isn’t just permissible—it’s actually sensible! God, he says, designed things so that when the first wife starts getting old, men can get what they need from a slew of younger wives coming through the door.
Please read the article first. Then peruse the following step-by-step instructions for creating your very own defense of controversial subjects. I hope you enjoy!
Step 1: Get audiences warmed up with previous blog posts, and intro slowly.
Once you’ve desensitized them to the crazy a little bit, as per your last post, it’s good to bring in some statements about our physical bodies in the hope that will make your argument feel more concrete and less ridiculous. Should we mention a controversial topic in an open-ended question to get people ready for the discussion?
Making readers use imagination always helps, plus it makes you look creative and thus more believable. But being too creative isn’t good, so we need to pick a “stock creative exercise” like the over-used time machine example.
Now that you’ve taken them to the cardboard cutout past, set up the story. Remember to throw in a nod to how slavery isn’t so bad, and then start building up a picture of a really creepy scene that would make any sane person ask questions. At this point, hammer home the fact that normal people find this odd by having our hypothetical character ask an obvious misdirecting question, such as thinking that a 14-year-old is a daughter rather than a wife. Cue the audience laugh track!
Now that you’ve got them feeling uncertain what they’re seeing, make the predictable move of revealing a Bible character to be the one behind the tomfoolery! See! Someone in the Bible did it, so it’s okay! Get it? Better throw in a verse, since it makes blog posts more true to use verses.
2. Use a bold-faced heading with a provocative question about your controversial topic.
To keep your audience with you as you start on the controversial points in earnest, you must use the word “culture” a lot and make sure they don’t actually ask any real questions about human psychology or the goal of healthy relationships. If you talk about the past enough, and don’t mention that teenage mothers of the past and today die from childbirth due to narrow hips, then it all sounds pretty logical.
3. Use a heading to take down their guard.
Whew! By now your controversial blog post will be getting heavy, so it’s time to move into a straw man argument that no one is actually arguing about, such as the debate over how old Mary was. Is your audience distracted from the creepiness of the main argument by this caveat into other topics? Good!
4. Transition from straw man back to real argument.
Now it’s time to use biological processes as some kind of assumption about God’s will for every individual’s life. Use a scary statistic like 90% of women’s eggs being used up. Take some obvious logic, like the fact that pregnancy is going to be a little harder on a slightly older body, and use it to claim evidence of God’s will for people’s lives.
Whatever you do, forget to mention that even in polygamous marriages, women could still get pregnant in their 30s and have that older pregnancy strain even if the husband has younger wives, too.
5. Handle contradicting evidence…er, I mean, “exceptions.”
By now, you’re probably noticing some problems, in the form of Biblical characters who don’t seem to fit your rule. This isn’t, in fact, a problem; just dismiss them as exceptions and no one will ask questions. If you see something so outside your paradigm that it’s hard to explain (like the fact that God’s original garden design included one spouse, or the fact that elder qualifications specify only one wife), just don’t mention it at all. No one will notice. Especially if you pluck another verse out of context and word your sentence to make it sound like a direct statement from God, even though it was written by one of the New Testament authors and wasn’t any direct statement from Jesus. Good job!
6. Dealing with pesky mental health questions.
At this point, people are going to ask obvious but silly questions like whether we should care about the psychological health of women and teens. Here again, you must appeal to culture. Remember that if people know something used to happen in the past, or happened often in the Bible, they won’t ask if it was a better or worse state of affairs than what we have today, so you should be safe for the moment.
P.S., if you throw in something about the family structure, you’re golden. Anyone who worships the nuclear family in a fashion greater than or equal to their worship of God is A-okay!
7. Take it back to biology.
But now it’s time to hit the biological “evidence” hard again. Get into lots of details about things (in this case, it was eggs and sperm), to prove that you’ve read basic material on the subject of your expertise.
Be sure to really blur a lot of logic lines here. Define men’s and women’s roles in a fuzzy but overlapping sort of way, so you can play the No True Scotsman game later if anyone disagrees with your view on the hierarchy—I MEAN, on the gender roles. Gender roles!
When you’re about to make your most controversial and emotionally offensive claim, use the words “God” and “fact” very close together so people will be too afraid to argue.
It’s good here to pull in unproven but oft-repeated stereotypes about men and women—things the general public already believes, that you will have no burden to prove. Be sure to overlook obvious points like the fact that women can be attracted to multiple people at the same time; if you say it’s otherwise, people will listen, for some reason.
Above all, make sure to use derogatory language for women, such as the fact that they have “shelf lives.” You have to degrade them a little bit, or people will ask too many questions about whether the controversial topic at hand is damaging to them. Things that have “shelf lives” and “expiration dates” don’t deserve as much care, so that eliminates a full half of the people who might disagree with you.
Finish with a rhetorical question that actually has many good answers, but imply that your answer is the only one.
8. People are getting nervous; soften your argument.
Now your audience is really getting nervous, so make yourself look a hair more sympathetic by admitting that the controversial topic you’re advocating would be bad for your own child—but then claim that if social circumstances were different, it wouldn’t be bad for her. This saves you from the consequences of your own beliefs but allows you to damage the decision-making capabilities of other people.
9. People want things to apply, so use the word apply.
Now that you’ve said you don’t want people to do your controversial theory, it’s time to explain why you actually do.
Throw in a hefty dose of unconscious racism here. Talk about a world trend that might make white, Western people become a minority in the future. Forget to mention that non-white people are well-equipped to take on the problem (such as population decline) because, let’s face it, you don’t really want them to–either that, or you’ve forgotten they exist. If at all possible, ignore actual facts like the population overload crisis that is coming down the pipeline, and argue instead for the exact opposite. Throw in a book recommendation with a title that thinks it’s clever.
Another word to the wise: know what other issue your audience hates and allude to it so readers will agree with you uncritically. Climate change is a good one. And feminism! Especially if the thing you’re advocating degrades women. If you can vilify feminism, then you’ve eliminated much of the argument against you, because people who would defend the women you degrade can now be labeled as “feminists” and dismissed.
Now, since you yourself are unable to live according to your radical proposal (since it is, after all, pretty stupid) you need to admit this in a back-handed way, but leave the door open for a justification of why you could live according to it. Reference again that living according to it is God’s will, according to you.
Blame society’s rules for the fact that men can’t act on their sin natures. Excuse the things your audience does to hurt their spouse, and make their actions seem understandable, even spiritual, even thoughtfully in keeping with God’s design!
Throw in one last Men-are-from-Mars, Women-from-Venus stereotype that everyone already believes, restate your critical controversy in bold, then run out the back door before anyone can ask more questions.
Helpful Hint: If you want to guarantee success, use a picture at the top of the page that advertises the kind of sex appeal men could enjoy if they started believing you.
**Author’s note: Obviously, this piece is satire. If you haven’t discerned that by now, I’m afraid I can’t help you.
What’s not funny is his attempt to normalize and downplay relationships between young teens and older men. I find that disturbing. Very, very disturbing. I’m also not okay with his attitude that the point of polygyny is to replace older wives with younger ones when the husbands need something fresh and fertile. His attempt to paint this kind of greed and lust in a husband as part of God’s design is something everyone should stand up and say “No” about.