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Auchter's Art: How to "win" an argument

John Auchter
Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio had a story this week about a union, the Michigan State Employees Association, petitioning to allow state park rangers to carry guns. Some rangers do not feel safe, citing a perceived uptick in illegal activity and are suggesting guns and bulletproof vests as a solution.

Phew! How was that? It took me quite a while to write that paragraph. It was really difficult to figure out how to tell you what happened as impartially as possible. Still, some of the words are inevitably tripwires (guns, state, union) — they instantly take us off the actual topic and into a race to tell those with a differing view how stupid they are.

That's pretty much the reason why the cartoon stopped being about the park rangers and guns in the first panel. I just couldn't figure out a way to wedge something witty and insightful ahead of the inevitable breakdown.

As a editorial cartoonist, I'm the last person in the world who should be judgmental about this. In most cases, we are the ones actively laying the tripwire. And we know how to do it because something has already set us off.

So to be clear: I most definitely believe some people and the opinions they hold on certain topics are in fact stupid. But if the goal is to persuade them to change their minds, then leading with "you're stupid" is perhaps not the most effective strategy.

John Auchter is a freelance editorial cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganPublic.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.
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