I want to talk briefly about how I use my 2010 animation George Ought to Help.

There are a bunch of common negative reactions to the animation whenever it gets posted to a forum that allows comments: complaints that the animation presents a misleading view of the world, more general complaints that advocates for a stateless society are either monsters or fools whose preferred order would result in much greater suffering for the poor, and good old name-calling and death-wishing.

One approach to dealing with these responses is to try to explain why the responder’s concerns, while understandable, are unfounded. If you have the time, composure and energy, you can try to talk this stuff out with the dissenter. That’s a decent and polite thing to do, good luck with it.

I tried to respond to all of the most reasonable and commonly made complaints in the film’s follow-up You Can Always Leave. The skeleton character expresses (sanitized) versions of actual objections I’ve gotten to George Ought to Help, sometimes verbatim. The lion-ish character responds with analogies designed to illustrate why the skeleton’s objections don’t work. I made You Can Always leave, in part, to avoid having to type out the same arguments over and over.

But in my view, the better way to deal with objections to George Ought to Help–in terms of likely intensity of conscience-pricking per keystroke–is to insist that the critic answer the central question of the animation:

In which of the situations shown in the video, if any, does it become acceptable to threaten your former friend with violence?

By all means provide the detractor with links (perhaps you can copy-paste impressive pre-prepared lists of resources as I’ve seen some commentators do), with long, carefully worded responses if you like, but I also suggest that for as long as you have the patience to keep replying, keep asking this one question every time your interlocutor evades the question. Point out that they’re evading. Feel free to copy-paste this question as many times as necessary, no attribution required!

In my experience, in most cases, the conversation will end before you get a real answer. That’s okay. Your interlocutor is usually not your audience. Any open-minded person watching has had a chance to notice the unseemly squirming of the the person unwilling to face up to their implicit support of threats of violence against peaceful people.