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I've been spending some time since Harry Browne died on March 1st browsing through his web site, http://www.HarryBrowne.org . One of the coolest sections I had not explored before is his archive of eTV shows. One I particularly enjoyed is a debate he has with a religious homophobe:


(The debate starts about 14 minutes into the show, so you'll probably want to fast-forward with the slider to that point.)

Harry Browne is one of the most clear-headed, rational thinkers I have ever encountered. In this debate, he not only shoots down every one of Dozier's arguments, but does so with complete civility, grace, and friendliness. He may not have converted this preacher within the short time span of the debate, but after Browne countered every point Dozier made, Dozier simply had nothing left to say, other than Browne was going to hell. More importantly, Browne really made him think.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 7th, 2006 05:24 am (UTC)
Thanks for the link.
That was fun to watch. The pastor only had one argument: "The bible says it's wrong."

You really can't argue with that because it's not a valid argument. It's an appeal to authority. :(

I hate trying to argue with religious people. It's such a waste of time. It also makes me very angry. I have so much respect for Harry Browne for the ability he had to stay cool. He was a very confidant person. I can never keep my cool in a debate with an irrational person. I don't yell and throw fits or ever attack the person with insults, but I get very aggitated. It really bothers me when someone clings to an irrational belief.
Mar. 7th, 2006 04:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks for the link.
I gave up arguing with religious people a while ago because, like you, I found myself getting extremely frustrated and annoyed with their irrationality.

I'm thinking about trying to develop some of Harry Browne's rhetorical strategies and seeing if I might be able to once again engage religious people in debate. I noticed that one of his guiding principles was avoid saying, "You are wrong about that." Instead, he would suggest that there is more than one way of looking at things and then coax Dozier into agreeing with him about that. I plan to study this debate and other debates further to see what else I can learn from Harry Browne.
Mar. 7th, 2006 01:06 pm (UTC)
This is the first time I have seen or heard Harry Brown speak. You are right. He speaks in such a rational, clear, intelligent, well-informed, and non-condescending manner that it is a pleasure to listen to him.

While watching the clip, I was entertained by the civil and friendly way in which Harry Brown countered Dozier’s arguments. Dozier was left speechless. I mean, how is it possible to defend an argument that is based on the irrational belief that homosexuality is a chosen behavior because the Devil lied to the individual? I actually felt a little embarrassed for Dozier’s lack of awareness, but I had to laugh.

From Dozier’s narrow-mindedness I did learn one thing, however. I now understand why some (religious) people think it is so important to “correct” the thinking and behavior of others. The goal is purely selfish; saving others will ensure that their own soul will not be damned. What ever happened to “mind your own business”?

Harry Brown’s message is clear. Live and let live.
Mar. 7th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC)
Wasn't Harry Browne a model of some of the most admirable human traits: respectful, kind, generous, empathic, non-condescending? What a good man, what a VERY good man he was!

Dozier, intellectually and emotionally, is an absolute child. To be able to win the hearts and minds of people like him (without using the brainwashing techniques that people obviously used on him) would require the utmost skill and finesse of someone like Harry Browne. I hope that I can learn to become more skillful that way by studying Browne's tapes. As an educator, I am very concerned about the naïvety of people like Dozier. I would never try to force or trick people like him into thinking differently, but I would dearly love to be able to show them another way of thinking that they would eventually adopt of their own volition.
Mar. 7th, 2006 11:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, from what I have seen and read, Harry Brown was a model human being. His way with words, and his ability to express his opinions in a non-threatening manner are definitely the way to win hearts and minds. He won mine.

It is interesting; I think you possess the same traits that you find admirable in him. You and he are two people that I would like to emulate.

You have shown many, many individuals another way of thinking – especially me. You certainly opened up my mind. It pleases me to say that I have learned from the best!

I, too, would like to become more skillful when communicating my ideas and opinions. We all have things to learn. But, Harry Brown had “it”. You have “it”. And, I hope to someday have “it”, too.

Harry Brown's eTV is definitely on my to do list.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )