Know the facts before you debate

Breanna Roen, Staff Writer

Have you ever been in a casual conversation with a friend, family member, colleague or even a random passerby and all of a sudden all chaos breaks loose because you may have potentially proven them wrong?

I know in my younger years that being wrong was not an option. After all, I was 15 and I knew all the knowledge the world had to offer. I could never possibly be wrong.

Most of us have seen an instance of this happen in our everyday lives, especially in social media. Around the time election season comes in full swing, people who have the “highest knowledge in the land” come out of their hiding places with misconstrued facts hiding up their sleeves.

We have all seen hot topic issues like the legalization of marijuana, the death penalty, abortion and every other controversial topic in the book being discussed by people who just can’t seem to get their facts straight.

I have added a few years to my age, and I realize that I have so much more to learn. I see people argue on my Facebook all the time, but now that I am older, I refrain from interjecting into mindless conversation of the sort while wondering when and how people have the time to rant for hours on an already unfactual statement on Buzzfeed Weekly.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a man at a stand spouting out opinions of his choosing. The man gathered the attention of a small crowd, including myself. This man comes up to me, and asks me confidnetly if I want legalize freedom?

If this was any other day, I would continue with whatever busy work I had to attend to. Lucky for him I stayed and listened for a while. I personally was under the impression that we are already free, and yet he tells me “not if you’re smoking a joint.”

The following story is one of the prime examples of an uneducated and uninformed man spouting his opinion. This is one of the best stories I have ever gotten myself into.   

He then asks me in a fit of rage, if I get pulled over for smoking weed in my car, why I would automatically go to jail?

Astounded, I asked him, “Do you mean driving home from work and smoking weed at the same time or simply having it in your possession?”

He clarified to me he smoking a joint on his way home from work while driving to his home.

Being a criminal justice major I knew this topic was in my field, but being a student in the program, I obviously don’t know everything there is to know in the criminal justice system. After learning what he was advocating for, I lowered my guard to get some humor out of the situation.

I responded to his question, “Well sir, we do have laws that say it is illegal to have marijuana in your possession, and if you are smoking it while driving you have the potential of getting arrested with a DUI (driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol). It is illegal because you have the potential to cause harm to to anyone who is driving on the same road you are on.”

He brought up the issue of police officers randomly show up and arrest him for smoking weed.

Never have I ever rolled my eyes so hard in one instance. I then decided to leave him with his thoughts and wished him a good day. This right here folks is an example of the stupidity we may stumble upon once in a lifetime or on a daily basis.

One argument as to why his last point is invalid is because the police will never show up to your home with absolutely no reason. More than likely you have a warrant, they have probable cause or a next door neighbor or another tenant in your apartment called and complained because of the smell.

I understand that marijuana is a topic for people of all ages, but the law states right now that marijuana is illegal according to federal law. This story is an example of a man who doesn’t have his facts straight along with false information he is feeding towards the general public. He even went as far as to quote a false Buzzfeed article that is used for click-bait on Facebook.

Before you attempt to amass a group of people for the purpose of educating them, here are a few suggestions so you  don’t make yourself look like a fool in front of a large audience.

The first thing is, if you find a topic you are interested in, research it like there is no tomorrow. Find valid sources such as scholarly journals or even reliable sources such as the Washington Post. If you are questioning the validity of the article you’re reading, it’s usually a sign to not include that into your research.

Second, if you do get yourself into one of these conversations, always quote your research, it provides some validity to your argument.

Lastly, have fun. It sounds silly, but as long as your side of the discussion is researched and sound, there’s no harm in enjoying a chat.

I personally believe you or someone you love should be entitled to financial compensation for dealing with these type of people everyday. Having patience with people who are uneducated can be a daunting task, so find some humor in the situation and make sure you tell your friends of a story similar to this to give them a good laugh or start a conversation about the topic in question.

Have any stories of uneducated people or someone that drove you nuts with their unvalidated beliefs? Send them to me at the email below. I’d love to hear my reader’s stories as well. Remember, your arguments sound smart so long as you are smart enough to get your facts straight.

Breanna Roen is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]