How To Win Or At Least End An Argument Part 2: The Filibuster

Part one of this lecture series can be found here.

A properly deployed filibuster has many advantages.  Mainly it infuriates your opponent, and once they lose the plot, they’ll start to lose the fight.  But that’s merely stage one.  At stage two they’ll start to lose the will to live and attempt to change the conversation.  This gives you two options:

  • you accept gracefully knowing that you’ve won a victory by default; or
  • you ramp things up and hammer your point home until they crumble like a poorly constructed Victoria sponge cake, at which point you’ve won by winning.  Congratulations.

But beware the filibuster, for it must be properly deployed to be effective.

First slam down your drink.  This alerts your opponent to the fact that you are about to make a big point with a capital BIG POINT.

Now, you might think it time to start the filibuster.  This is a rookie mistake. Under no circumstances should you jump straight in. Before that, you need to cow your opponent to avoid the possibility of interruptions, which can be irritating (because it’s YOUR limelight dammit and they should get their own).  You do this by taking a cue from the animal world.

Start with your most craziest of crazy eyes, invade their forcefield of personal space.  Bare your incisors and jump up and down on the spot shrieking.  If you’re up to it, try caterwauling.  Your opponent is now aware of the fact that you’re the dominant partner.  At this point you should consider flinging your faeces.

Finally, assert your alpha qualities with a prominent genital display.

Then begin your filibuster.  Now, despite the much-publicised contents of Ted Cruz’s recentish filibustering shenanigans, you should avoid talking about just any old crap to fill time.  There is never any excuse for Ashton Kutcher.  Instead, the skilful among you will attempt to keep your filibuster on point for at least the first 7 minutes.  This must take the form of a semi-coherent rant with many clauses and sub-clauses, a variety of submissions, all mixed up with some confused personal anecdotes that you pretend illustrate your point.

At no time should you introduce any semblance of logic or narrative flow to your filibuster.

You’re not a pro at this yet so around the 35 minute mark you will notice that your own interest is beginning to flag.  At this point, if you are a girl, you should weave in a detailed story about how you used to practice kissing with the other girls at the Catholic girls’ school you attended.  If you are a boy, you should weave in a detailed story about your many amorous adventures whilst attending a Catholic girls’ school as the son of the headmistress.  You will notice that your opponent immediately perks up – this is nothing to be concerned about because they will instinctively start to think about sex and begin to consider you as a viable sexual partner.  This has two knock-on effects.

  • they will forget whatever broadside they were about to make; and
  • you will be cast as passionate rather than merely cantankerous, which boosts your sexual capital.  Advanced students will be aiming for potential angry make up sex (not advisable if you’re fighting with your sister-in-law*).  Which is the best kind.

If you’re not inclined to have sex with your opponent for whatever reason, not to worry: all the x-rated chat has distracted him or her sufficiently that you are now in prime position for the win.

But the filibuster doesn’t end here, much as you may want it to.  You are now at stage two.

Return to your original point, or better yet introduce a long-winded ancillary point that tenuously supports your main premise.  The sexy stuff has woken your opponent up and given him or her hope that the conversation has changed.  The aim here is to undermine and eventually destroy that hope by filibustering for at least another 45 minutes, or until their eyes are more glazed than a glazed donut with extra glaze.

Then and only then will you start to wind down, eventually taking an ostentatious gulp of your beverage.  Here you should pause for as many beats as it takes for your opponent to start speaking again.  As soon as he or she does so, you must jump straight back into your filibuster.

Try introducing a new main premise and set of supporting propositions.  As always, make your sentences as long and convoluted as possible so that they’re harder to follow (did I not mention that earlier?)  For example:

‘And of course one must also consider the mating habits of the common or garden variety sparrow, which further serves to illustrate my earlier proposition that cheese is merely – at best – a kind of edible broadsheet journalist, and, again, this in turn leads into the second submission of my third ancillary premise that The Beatles were IN FACT survivors of the Chernobyl incident thrown back in time, a thought experiment which I’m sure you’ll agree was highly salient in the context of…’ 

At this point you are encouraged to use words like ‘premise’ and ‘proposition’ explicitly – the extra impact of technical language should push your opponent over the edge.

This is another, albeit limited, exception to the ‘no jargon’ rule discussed in the last lecture.  Words such as ‘aphorism’ still must be avoided, along with any debating jargon that doesn’t translate as ‘sentences’, because, as we established in the last lecture, you have some self-respect.

When last orders are called at the bar, the wedding ceremony is concluded or the meeting ends; or your opponent leaves, falls asleep or begs you to talk about something else, congratulations.  You have successfully deployed the filibuster.


*Unless one or both of you looks like Penelope Cruz, in which case: as you were.