Using Judo in a Political Conversation

Judo - The Gentle Way(photo credit)

Judo, a Japanese martial art, was introduced in 1882 by Jigoro Kano.  Among the various martial arts, Judo is one of the “soft techniques” in which a defender, with very little exertion, uses the attacker’s momentum against him when the attacker is off balance.

Now let me show you an excellent example of “verbal Judo,” Mike Rosen - verbal Judo expertfrom the Mike Rosen show on a Denver talk radio station two days ago.  Here is a 2½  minute exchange at the 28:22 point of the podcast.  See if you can spot the verbal Judo throw:


(photo credit)

Host Mike Rosen:  Let’s go to Maybelle in Denver.  You’re on 850 KOA.  Hello Maybelle.

Caller Maybelle:  …I think that they need to have a way of monitoring when we purchase guns.  People say that they’re getting them to protect themselves, when actually their intention is for criminal activity.

Rosen:  Well how can you tell what the intention of people is?

Maybelle:  That’s what I mean.  There has to be some way to protect –

Rosen:  Well you’d like there to be some way, but how will you practically achieve that?  How can you do that?

Maybelle:  Well, I’m not a law person.

Rosen:  You don’t need to be a law person.  I’m just talking about common sense.  I understand what you want to achieve, Maybelle.  My point is you can’t achieve it.

Maybelle:  They need to find out before they sell guns to people, who the person is and what their thinking is, to protect innocent people, you know?

Rosen:  No, I don’t know.

Maybelle:  Well you should know, you’re a human being.

Rosen:  Yes, I’m a human being.  And what I’m suggesting to you is that in spite of your good intentions, what you hope to achieve is not achievable.

Maybelle:  (Pause)  Well, then people are going to be going around shooting at each other –

Rosen:  Yes they are.

Maybelle:  – like kids playing Cowboys and Indians.

Rosen:  That’s correct.  They are going to keep doing that.  That’s why we have a police force to do the best that it can.  But all kinds of people break all kinds of laws –

Maybelle:  Oh, yeah.

Rosen: – in every country.

Maybelle:  So we give a license to people –

Rosen:  No we don’t.

Maybelle:  – like the one in Washington that went and killed –

Rosen:  Nobody gave him license to do that.  He broke the law.


Rosen:  Maybelle, your argument is against human nature, and against people who do things unlawfully.

Maybelle:  OK, I believe human nature is good.  I believe there is some good in people – (inaudible – talking over each other)

Rosen:  Well how about the people who commit these crimes?

Maybelle: (inaudible – talking over each other) – I just don’t believe they should have guns –

Rosen:  Maybelle, you’re just venting.  Can you possibly be rational?

Maybelle:  OK.

Rosen:  Within this population, if you believe human nature is good, is it universally good?

Maybelle:  I believe human – there is some good in human nature.

Rosen:  That wasn’t the question.  Does that mean that everybody always does good?

Maybelle:  I still believe they’re good people.

Rosen:  Does that mean that everybody always does good?

Maybelle:  (Pause)  No, everybody doesn’t always do good.

Rosen:  Ah, so whatever the laws will be, some people will break those laws.

What we need to constrain ourselves with is the recognition that we can only do practical things.  We can’t use laws as wish lists.

Progressive Utopian Wish List(graphic credit)

So let’s recap:  Maybelle started off saying more should be done to detect when people are contemplating criminal intent when acquiring a gun.  Rosen pointed out that shootings happen because some people are law breakers and that’s just human nature – there’s no way to ever change that.  She then recited the #1 core Progressive belief – that human nature is good.

At that point she was committed.  Rosen had her off balance and finished her off, cornering her into admitting her self-contradiction.

If humans are good, then why do we break laws?  Answer:  we break laws because humans, in our fundamental nature, are irreparably flawed — contrary to the #1 Progressive belief.  The imperfectible, corruptible nature of man is the basic premise from which Conservatism flows, as I wrote about in my first article here over a year ago.

This exchange was an example of a pattern I have learned to recognize when listening to political discussions between Progressives and Conservatives.  I often observe that a Progressive’s argument, when Progressive Paradox - a self-contradicting ideologyalertly circled back around upon itself, then PROVES ITSELF WRONG with little effort by the Conservative, and often without the hapless self-defeaters even recognizing that they just destroyed the premise of their own argument.

(graphic credit)

I have named these self-consuming circles “Progressive Paradoxes”, and in the future I will occasionally write about these fascinating acts of rhetorical hari-kari, as I encounter the more notable ones.


About Necessary and Proper

Jeff believes in the Individual's ability to excel when liberty and freedom of choice are protected. Also believes in the Community's ability to take care of the vast majority of its own issues and needs when the federal government leaves the Community's resources and sphere of control alone. State and local choice produce better results than centralized federal control.
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11 Responses to Using Judo in a Political Conversation

  1. Jane says:

    This is good, Jeff! Since I learned a little Judo in college, I loved the analogy you created to show how he used her own argument (her weight) to show her flawed logic (off balance) to prove her faulty conclusion (she gets pinned). And the wish list was fabulous. Really, that’s what people want is a wish list instead of laws. People who shoot people will break any law. And I really laughed at the “people are generally good” part. Why do we have to have anti-bullying classes in our elementary schools then? If you’ve ever seen a 9-month-old baby throw a fit or a 2-year-old not get his way and kick and scream and hit, you would question that line of thinking. It seems all I do as a mother is try to teach my kids to be less selfish and naughty, and more giving and kind. I don’t have to teach them selfishness and unkindness. That’s their natural tendency. This was great food for thought, Jeff. Thanks!:)


    • Jane — Thanks for the warning…I vow to never pick on you verbally.

      What I admire about Rosen is that his regular verbal acumen under live fire 15 hours per week on the radio is 10 times as good as all my best carefully-crafted written arguments combined.

      – Jeff


  2. Greg Ward says:

    Very insightful and great analogy…you have a new follower!


  3. bullright says:

    I agree, that was the turning point. She never saw she’d crossed the line of no return. Yes, divinely knowing intent….before the fact, and there has to be a way. That’s good.. Well she was destined for “thought police” which we don’t need if all people are generally good. .Great point. So her argument is also specious that you can prevent what people do. I wish they’d ban criminals, for instance, and end the problems.

    I wonder if she considered tarot cards or psychics ? But she’s looking to lawmakers? Heck, half the time they don’t even know why they do what they do, and she expects them to figure it out?


    • bullright says:

      You know, at least in real Judo a person knows when they’ve been knocked on their keister, instead of continuing on as if they have the more superior position.


      • I can almost feel you just shaking your head, as I was. That’s exactly what I meant by “and often without the hapless self-defeaters even recognizing that they just destroyed the premise of their own argument.” Did you listen to the audio? The lady sounded like a really nice person. Though it doesn’t come across well in the transcript, Rosen went pretty easy on her. He maintained a calm tone. If the caller had been a sarcastic guy it would have been totally different. BTW, if the transcript seems like it ends abruptly, it’s because he was ending his show, and it came down to the last second.

        – Jeff


        • bullright says:

          No, I read the transcript, it comes through, Nice and well-meaning. He didn’t go hard either. Great example. I used to hear some like that on CSPAN.

          But Judo made me think of what Putin did with Obama; he cut the legs out from under Obama. He must have been entertained with Obama thrashing about acting like it was just the spot he wanted, and trying to say he planned it. But that’s how liberals act normally – win or lose.


  4. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
    – James Madison



  5. Jack Curtis says:

    The lady wants to disarm the population whether or not her rationale plays. She’s a totalitarian, as the Left must ultimately always be since it imposes a human nature that does not exist. She is about power, not logic. The post clarifies it nicely.

    But is human nature somehow flawed? That seems unlikely; all the critters on the planet seem to possess a nature perfectly adapted to their circumstances; where that isn’t so, they disappear. We call that “evolution,” I believe. Humans haven’t disappeared; we have succeeded to an extraordinary extent and are continuing in that direction, even at our worst. That’s evidence of a successful, not a flawed design, seems to me.. Biologically speaking, of course…..


    • Jack, as I was reading your second paragraph, I was preparing to provide a lengthy response. But then your last sentence clarified that you’re talking about man’s suitability for survival in his physical environment, in his place in the food chain. However, that’s entirely different than the aspect of human nature I’m talking about…flaws in ethics and morality.

      Then I started thinking about what quote I could go find to explain what I meant — and the one I thought of was James Madison from Federalist #51. Now where have I seen that recently? OH YEAH! It was already provided by The Existential Christian directly above your comment. (Thanks, EC…are you psychic, dude?)

      Combining the thoughts from Jack and EC, it seems that a conclusion can be drawn: The only species or circumstance that can set Man back is the unethical tyranny imposed by his own species when some of them take it upon themselves to impose Utopia upon the others through coercion. The only earthly thing Man has to fear is Man.

      – Jeff


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