Critic accused of 'deflecting'

Re. Beverly Ryder's letter Stereotyping the poor (Castanet, March 24)

Apparently my recent letter to Castanet caused Beverly Ryder to set her "teeth on edge", so much so that she felt compelled to respond.

To recap, the gist of my letter was that many people who have worked hard their whole lives don't appreciate their tax money being used to support those who consistently have made, shall we say, less positive decisions in their lives. But, rather than rebut or debate my ideas, Ms. Ryder instead decided to practice the age-old strategy of deflection.

First, she claims that I said that "poorer people are all drug users, over spenders, and deserve to be poor." And on and on in the same vein for an entire paragraph.

If you re-read my letter, you will see that I never once used the word "poor" or "lazy" or "deserve to be poor". That's the first tactic of those who choose to deflect - they try to put words in your mouth that were never there in the first place. Rather than talking about what is actually presented, they make stuff up that sounds plausible at first blush, but doesn't survive a little more scrutiny.

Ms. Ryder goes on to say, "There are a lot of people out there who have trouble making ends meet. They don't squander their money but have a hard time saving because the cost of living is extremely high. Despite working hard to feed their family, they still struggle and don't go around buying things they can't afford. And, they don't do drugs."

Even though she is trying to sound like she disagrees with me, she is actually making my point for me. Another common tactic of people who like to deflect. Yes, people have a hard time saving because of the high cost of living. Yes, people work hard and still struggle. Yes, people avoid wasting money on things they can't afford and don't do drugs. Those are exactly the people I'm sticking up for. Those are the people making good decisions in their lives. Those are the people who are getting buried by high taxes, high interest rates, high government debt, and high inflation. Those are the people who don't have extra money lying around to pay for every new idea that pops into the premier's or prime minister's head. That's exactly my point but Ms. Ryder tries, quite unsuccessfully, to make it sound like I'm against those notions and those people.

Ms. Ryder then goes on to tell me that I am "fortunate" (maybe because I have worked hard all my life which is actually the opposite of being fortunate), that I have a "luscious lifestyle" (whatever that means?), and that she doesn't want to "sink to my level". She suggests that I should volunteer more so that I don't have time to complain. This is frequently the favorite tactic of the deflector. Try to present yourself as virtuous by casting aspersions on the moral character of your adversary rather than actually debating their ideas. For one thing, Ms. Ryder knows nothing about how much I volunteer, or don't, nor anything about how much I give to charity, or don't. Regardless of whether I'm a sinner or a saint, we are supposed to debate the ideas, not the person putting forth those ideas. Not all ideas of the saints are good ones, and not all ideas of the sinners are bad ones. The moral fiber of the person presenting the ideas is completely irrelevant. This attempt by Ms. Ryder to denigrate my character is just a red herring aimed at muddying the water and that has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand.

So if Ms. Ryder wishes to actually debate the premise of my letter (that is, should governments bail out people who constantly make poor life decisions?), that would be useful. But to deflect, deflect, deflect instead of putting forth valid counter-arguments is just a waste of time and energy for all involved.

Lloyd Vinish, Kelowna

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