Can one have a debate with oneself and is there any legal jeopardy in doing so?

Last Updated: 17 March 2022By

A debate with myself and moderated by myself.
Me the moderator in Bold Text.
Me the Gentle in normal Upright Text Characters.
Me the Spearman in Italic Bent Characters.

Firstly, is it at all possible to have an honest debate about anything with oneself?

“Well, I would certainly hope so, else why are we even here,” was my quick summation with a query attached to the end of it, hoping to end the debate as quickly as possible.

“I don’t know about that,” I countered my quick summation with an ambiguous assertion that countered nothing at all and then threw in a query of my own, “but what I would like to know is can one moderate a debate between oneself honestly.”

“Oh, that is typical, attack the moderator. Look this is not some US Presidential debate where all the moderators tend to back one side.”

“Whoa there cowboy, surely every moderator has some kind of bias to a particular point of view and…”

“Look, this is not a debate about whether I the moderator can moderate a debate that I am having between me and you, who is also me, but whether I can have an honest debate between myself and you who also happen to be me, so let’s not go any further down this rabbit hole,” I blurted out with frustrated enthusiasm and almost confusing myself with a little merry-go-round of my own.

“Hey, there is no need to interrupt me, now I lost what I was going to say. Maybe the Author Who Art At his Desk can make a moderatorial ruling on interruptions,’ I grumbled poking my self in the ribs for emphasis.

“No, that’s the beauty of debating yourself, I can interrupt myself at any time and there is no talking over myself unlike a debate on CNN where two people are jabbering on regardless and no one knows what the blazes they are talking about.”

“That is all very well when you are doing the interruptions, but…”

Hey, you can interrupt me at any…”

“Good I will certainly do so.”

“Another good thing about debating yourself is the cut and thrust comments,” I ventured in my best marketing voice, hoping to convince any readers of the merits of self-debate, but studiously avoiding the question about whether one can do so honestly, “I mean, take your average YouTube debate of any kind, one debater gets to make their point for five minutes, then the other gets a five-minute rebuttal to make their point, and then…”

“Okay, enough with the self-promotional nonsense,” I interrupted with a somewhat raised voice emphasizing each word with a forceful tap on the table, “let’s not start a goose chase by beating around the bush here. It is simply not possible to have an HONEST debate with yourself as any debate is debating the firmly held and believed opposing opinions of two protagonists. Unless you are a schizoid with a multiple personality disorder, one simply cannot espouse two opposing views as true.”

“Come now,” I spat out in forceful exasperation, suddenly concerned that I was not wearing a mask and not properly social distanced from myself, and then becoming somewhat embarrassed by my reaction as I did not have any viral loads that I was aware of and there was no one to infect other than myself even if I had a load to two to deliver, “let’s not play the psychiatric card, please. You know full well that anyone can reasonably put themselves in someone else’s shoes and ask all the right questions about an opinion you think is absolutely wrong. there is even an expression for it; being in two minds about a matter. Besides no one can ever be sure that the opinion they believe to be true is actually true.”

“So what you are saying is that if someone has plenty of evidence that something is true, they can never be sure, despite the evidence they have, that it is necessarily true,” I retorted, rubbing my hands together gleefully, laying out a nice little bunny trail to lure myself to a hole that no rabbit should ever fall into.

“Indeed,” I replied, knowing I was up to no good but playing along as a good bunny should, to see what kind of hole I had planned for myself, “one might have some evidence, but one cannot have irrefutable evidence, there is always another piece of the puzzle to be found that will change the picture.”

“So,” I hissed slyly in my best snake-like manner, “most people, with plenty of evidence to back it up, say that the Earth is round, but you are saying that it could be flat because there…”

“Idiot,” I shouted with mock horror, “if the moderator was not watching I would give you a flat hand across your round head except it would hurt me more than it would hurt you as you are merely a voice in my head.”

“Hey, your Pig-Headedness, you once entertained the thought that the earth was flat.”

“Come now, that was you, my sorry other-self, flat out trying a mental coup de tat in a roundabout way by exploiting my penchant for conspiracies.”

“Well look who is playing the psychiatric card now.”

Ahem, enough now, this is ending up a verbal merry go round and I flatly refuse to allow this to degenerate into a debate about how round or flat the earth is. The question was can one have an honest debate about anything with oneself. Clearly, the answer is yes and no which equates to a maybe we can and maybe we can’t but we will certainly try so let us continue leading up to discussing the legal jeopardy angle to the question.

“Look,” I jumped in quickly with a snotty-nose-in-the-air-I-know-it-all tone to my voice before the other me could speak, “people think they have a unified personality, but the human personality is made up of numerous parts all working as a whole, but still competing for the dominant position. We have expressions depicting this, such as; I was in two minds about the decision, I don’t know what came over me, what on earth was I thinking, something made me do it, among many others. Let’s face the fact, we are debating ourselves all the time in our minds as we grapple with the issues of life.”

“Nonsense, most of our opinions are set in stone and usually it takes a lot of hammering and chiselling away at our beliefs and opinions for us to change our views on anything that we have long settled in our minds,” I replied with even a snottier I-know-much-more-than-you-do tone, “nevertheless, I do acknowledge that in the peripheral and the not so important issues of life, especially those that have an emotional aspect, people are as changeable as the wind.”

“Sure, maybe in polite western society core beliefs and opinions are hard to change,” I insisted loudly looking down my nose at myself whilst taking a shoulder up and chest out authoritarian stance, but resisting the temptation to salute myself, “but one just needs to look at the very effective methods of the Nazis, Stalinists and Maoist to reduce their polite societies to drooling propagandized idiots willing to do anything to save themselves from the attention of those who had the means to anything they wanted to those who would not obey.”

“For goodness sakes,’ I scolded myself with a scalding tone of voice meant to inflict maximum heat to my pale Tattooed Warrior cheeks, “you have gone from polite society to totalitarian regimes and their evil methods without even drawing a breath in between. But here is something to remember, whilst millions succumbed to such propaganda, millions also refused to kowtow and ultimately paid with their lives and these were those whose core beliefs could not be shaken.”

“Yes, I do get your point, but the point I was trying to make, I admit I did not do it very well and was over the top in trying to emphasise it,” I stated calmly trying to lower the boiling point of an exasperated mind, ” is that any debate is not trying to change the unchangeable, but those who are sitting on the fence, those who could be swayed either way, simply because they have not, as yet, made up their minds. When two people debate they are not trying to change the other, nor are they trying to change the supporters of the other side, they are merely trying to bolster the supporters of their own side and gain new converts from the undecided. Thus a debate with yourself fulfils that objective, unfortunately for you, you are on the other side.”

“Hey,” I grumbled with a melancholic voice, “I have supporters, I hope.”

Right, let’s get to the crux of the matter as I don’t think we will get any clarity regarding the honestly debating oneself bit. Any debate regarding sensitive issues in public, such as; racism, sexual and gender or religious issues, in this woke society, is fraught with legal danger due to hate speech laws limiting the freedom of speech. Assuming one could debate oneself honestly, although we have not established that one can, could one face legal jeopardy debating these issues with oneself.

“Well,” I said getting in the first word in for the first time, “Since he, I mean, I, stated that I, I mean, me, was a figment of the imagination, an alternative ego or some other personality of his that can be turned on and off at will and in fact does not really exist, I’m sure I can say anything without legal jeopardy. I mean, how could they possibly take a figment of the imagination to court.”

“Are you braindead?” I gagged in stupefaction at such an idiotic statement of mental derangement, ‘they would simply drag me off to court and hold me to account for your words as you are a figment of my imagination and I am responsible for my imaginings whether they are a figment or not.

“Well, then you could always plead insanity, after all, people who talk to themselves are considered nuts, and sometimes I do wonder if there is anyone nuttier than you. I mean, what fruitcake would even contemplate discussing anything with an imaginary entity called a figment.”

“Look, I couldn’t give a fig for your suggestion, who in their right mind would ever plead insanity even if they were as mad as a hatter. They lock people up indeterminably for insanity in some asylum and poke you full of injectables, supposedly to cure you, but which turn even the sanest of people into jabbering idiots which then require additional shots to put you in a vegetative state. The only way out is for you to be declared sane and that ain’t going to happen with so many injectable shots curing you of any sanity you ever had.”

“Hey, don’t get so agitated, we could just call it satire.”

“What, this conversation!”

“No, commenting about sensitive issues, We could just make a joke of it.”

“I don’t think the people who shout “Hate Speech” and drag you off to court will think it very funny.”

“No, but I think the Hate Speech Laws makes an exemption for satire. Comedians get away with making fun of groups with sensitivities all the time.”

“Well they get away with it by making the very people they are mocking laugh, but what if you are not funny enough and no one starts laughing.”

“Hey, never mind that, so long as you label yourself a comedian, who cares if you are funny or not. Besides, you are writing these things, who is going to be able to prove in court that no one laughed when they read it. Even better, why not just call yourself a Court Jester, who knows, maybe you will get the prosecutors and the judge laughing hysterically. The possibilities are endless.”

“Well, I don’t know if judges have a sense of humour. I’ve never seen one crack a smile never mind laughing. Now prosecutors are known for their wide grins and fist-pumping in the air when they get their man.”

“As you have experienced yourself.”

“Yes, but the readers will have to read my memoirs to find out about that bit of Judicial travesty.”

“But seriously, have you ever heard of a comedian getting prosecuted for his jokes.”

No, I haven’t, but I have heard of some getting shot in some countries, by the people they have offended because the law won’t take the lawless comedians, who use comedy to comment on taboo topics, to task, because they cannot be prosecuted for being jokers.”

“Well, do you have any examples to share with the readers of comedians getting away scot-free after making jokes about sensitive topics?”

“Sure, there was good old Trevor Noah at a Johannesburg show a few years back who spent the last 20 minutes of the show making fun of and using the dreaded K-word. It was broadcast extensively on DSTV. At the end of the show in the foyer, everybody was calling themselves and each other a K. So Trevor can use the word in jest as much as he wants, but woe to the pale-skinned Penny Sparrow’s of this world who act the Twit and Tweet it On Twitter.”

“Yeah, I noticed you did not dare write the word.”

“Well, pale skin you know, besides this is my first write up, I don’t think any start-up comedian would take the risk. One has to be firmly established as an idiot before doing so.”

“My goodness, you’re not calling comedians idiots are you.”

“Yes, some of them are and not one bit funny at all.”

And there we will have to leave it, having clarified nothing and come to no sensible conclusion. To allow my idiotic self and his imaginary Figment to continue going round this particular mountain, we could end up being here for the next forty years.