When discussing any issue, or forming an opinion on said issue, a person should want to be as informed as possible. Anything less and you are betraying your own self-awareness and denying yourself any meaningful self-realization. You are relegating yourself to the role of not a grown man or woman, but rather someone else's tool, their puppet. More importantly, if you are ignorant enough of the topic at hand than nothing you say will carry any weight in the discussion, regardless of how open minded the other participants may be. Imagine trying to discuss algebra with someone who insists that 2+2=5. You aren't going to take that person's solutions to your problem very seriously are you? Only by being taken seriously can you sway the opinions of those who initially disagree with you.
Still, we see a tremendous amount of, very vocal, people in the political discourse who do not seem to understand the words that they are using. The three biggest misused words today are 'communism', 'socialism', and 'fascism'. If I point out that Obama hasn't done anything that would be considered socialist, I am often accused of believing "liberal media lies", or of being a 'libtard', or even simply of defending Obama. Well, first of all, I'm not basing my statement on media lies of any sort. I'm basing it on things like history books and dictionaries. Second, I'm not a liberal. Third, it's insane to say that disputing falsehoods about someone is 'defending' them in any real sense of the word.
To illustrate that last point, and further drive home why one should understand the words that they use before repeating them, let's imagine a (slightly disturbing) situation. Let's pretend that you witness someone murder your best friend. You are the only witness. If you call the police and tell them that this person just raped your friend, what is going to happen? The police are going to arrive, ask you if the person murdered your friend, you are going to say no, and inadvertently become the guy's alibi against the crime he actually did commit. There is going to be no evidence of rape, since that isn't the crime that was committed. The best case scenario for justice is that the cops still figured out what happened and the murderer is arrested. Of course, if they do, then you are going to jail as an accomplice because you told them that the murderer didn't do it. Moreover, if you run around saying this guy raped your friend, and he can point to medical records that show your friend wasn't raped, then he looks like the victim. In the eyes of the public, you've turned the murderer into the victim and yourself into the bad guy.
Saying that Obama isn't a socialist isn't defending him any more than saying that the murder in the above scenario isn't a rapist. Words have meanings. So let's take a look at those three words, define them, and give a few additional examples of how not knowing what these words means can weaken one's argument. This is going to be a relatively long discussion, so I'm going to break it down into sections. If you want to use these words, and be taken seriously in a political discussion, it is important that you understand what they mean. So I recommend that you read all of them as time allows.
Click the link below to read part two:
A communist fascist? Part two: Socialism