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Friday, August 30, 2013

Ad hominem ad nauseum

Enemies Define the Man

“Judge a man by the quality of his enemies.”(Arabian proverb) And, musician Wicasta Lovelace elaborated, “. . . A good man will never have enemies who are anything but petty and childish. . . Who it is that dislikes a man reveals much about the man himself.” 

There’s been a “commenting kerfuffle” in the remarks about a local blogger’s letter in the Daily Pilot’s Forum.1 Much of it is focused on the commenters’ assumptions about the letter writer’s beliefs. (He explains his beliefs in #331 Here. They're different from the assumptions.)  Labels of racist (a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another) and bigot seem to be popular among the commenters.

Meaningless epithet now

Racist” has taken on the meaning of “somebody I don’t like,” much like “Communist” did during the McCarthy era, so let’s stick with “bigot:” a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices. . .” We'll try to identify the bigots.

Propaganda revisited 

The writer exposited about the justification for the Mayor’s lawsuit against the police union in a logical, well-written piece.  The commenters didn’t address his premise, though, they just attacked him personally.

Who is making the ad hominem2 attacks on the writer and “broadbrushing”3 those who agree with his logic? Well, there’s another local blogger, who gets into occasional tiffs with the letter’s author.4 He said,

How very sad it must be for the Mayor and his pals that this pile of human debris is writing in support of their positions. . . This man, who's (sic) local blog has degenerated into an insignificant racist cesspool. . . As you read his bilge . . .

Another commenter wrote juvenile insults to other commenters (really; on the order of “you’re a poopy head . . .”) and was called on it. He responded,

 “. . . There is a stinky dime that I smell in somebody's pocket and the way that could have been avoided is to first disavow any political or ideological connection with Mr. Millard before responding. That is how you wash the crap off, since you or Mr. Popp or any other cronies did not do that nor was the Mayor forthcoming with any distancing of Mr. Millard I would suggest a larger dose of cologne. Or is that colon? Immature? Absolutely! That's how I roll.

This upsets me which makes it relevant

Finally, a commenter who was emoting in all caps and about different complaints she carries against the Mayor and/or Pro Tem was asked if she considered the unrelated complaints to be relevant to the author’s point. Her response was:

About the all caps, you know I don't often use all caps for several words in a row. This time I did because ordering the removal of Huy's memorial flowers was callous, nasty, senseless and done to inflict pain on those who wished to memorialize Huy. That calls for all caps as it is sadistic bordering on psychotic.  . .No, it's not "unrelated" at all.

The author’s attackers make little sense in their arguments but offer a poignant view of their intellectual and ethical values.

2 Ad hominum in more depth. here
3 Broadbrush propaganda in last election here
4 Tiff example here

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