Shooting the messenger

One of the most contemptible techniques in debating is the “ad hominem” attack, where you simply ignore the substance of your opponent’s argument and attack them personally. You bypass the issue by bringing up alleged their alleged hypocrisy in holding their position, their credibility, their motives, anything that will discredit them — without addressing the points they raise.

It’s been used a bit around these parts recently. Greg used it here when “Rufus T. Firefly” said some things about scientology he didn’t like. And it really drew them out when I posted this piece, bringing heaps of scorn from s9 and frameone. And let’s not forget that hardy perennial, joser, who makes that technique his calling card.

I realized a long time ago that when someone resorts to attacking the person, it’s because they don’t feel they can successfully refute the argument. Their only way to win is to convert the discussion to being about the other person, and pummel them that way. It took me a while, but I finally realized that when it’s used, it’s an admission of failure and I have won the argument.

So thank you, frameone, joser, and s9. Every time you try to turn the discussions here into my personal shortcomings, failings, and other issues, I take it to mean you have no other way to counter my points.

(A personal note to those three and their supporters is in the extended section.)

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OK, I’m going to answer your “questions” about my lack of military service once and only once. I’m already regretting playing along with your insipid little tactic.

The reasons I have never volunteered for service, and never would, are as follows:

1) I am severely out of shape.

2) I have a bad ankle, bad knees, a bad hip, bad eyes, and I’m developing early stages of arthritis in my hands.

3) I have another medical condition that requires several-times-daily attention and medication. Without that, I would sicken in days, be incapacitated within a week, and dead shortly thereafter.

With all those problems, I would be a tremendous liability in any battlefield conditions. With all those problems, if there still is any way I could be of service in a national emergency, I would unhesitatingly volunteer. But I know that there is no way in hell I could be acceptable, so I don’t even bother.

But let’s look at what you dipshits laughingly call “reasoning.” Because I never served in the military, nor ever sought to, I have absolutely no standing to discuss matters of national security. That’s quite possibly the dumbest thing you could possibly espouse, and that’s saying a lot for a despicable collection of guttersnipes as yourselves.

By that standard, Bill Clinton had no business being president (let alone defeating two decorated World War II heroes for the office), let alone sending the U.S. military into places such as Haiti, Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, or… um, wait a minute. I might have to reconsider this one.

No, that’s making the same mistake as you assholes. I’m not arguing the position, but the person. Bill Clinton had every right to do those actions. Their correctness is certainly debatable (at the very least), but his authority to do so is unquestionable.

A better example would be Franklin Delano Roosevelt. By your logic (trying SO hard not to laugh while I type this), he had no business running for president. Or, at the very least, he should have resigned when war became imminent so someone ready, willing, and able to fight personally could lead the nation.

I’m sorely tempted to ban the lot of you just to protect my blood pressure, but I am loath to do such a thing on general principles. And besides, whenever I see you going after me instead of my arguments, it’s a fresh reminder that every time you engage me instead of my points is an acknowledgement of your impotence to actually face me on the issues.

You see, it’s not all about me. And I don’t know why you keep trying to make it so.

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  1. Scott May 15, 2005