Slaying the Strawman

insanitybytes22 oftens write light-hearted posts that have an unexpected bite. Here below she makes fun of a couple of words.

Why should we want ad hominem and the strawman slain? When people start talking about somebody instead of an issue or something else besides the issue at hand, the discussion is almost over anyway. When we have to use those words to correct our opponent, we are not discussing anything of value. We are just trying to correct someone who almost always will refuse to be corrected.

Put yourself in the position of the offender (a position which most likely you have been in at least once). Unless we need to get somebody fired or arrested, what is the point of leveling accusations, ad hominem, against someone personally? If we need to use a strawman to attack someone’s argument, have we not implicitly conceded their argument is unassailable? Hence we have resorted to deceit.

Consider how much talk we have about Donald Trump. Instead of discussing the issues, his opponents have made him the issue. What Trump has done is or is trying to do does not seem to matter. All we hear about is what is wrong with Donald Trump. Trump is a bigot. Trump is vile. Trump is mean. Trump is arrogant. Trump is incompetent. What has Trump done? That doesn’t seem to matter.

So what can we do if we want to slay ad hominem and the strawman. Is it enough to refuse to use the words? No. We each must refuse to engage in ad hominem and the strawman arguments. When our opponent engages in ad hominem and the strawman, we must refuse to take the bait. We must strive to stick to the issues.

What are the issues? That depends upon what we stand for. Each of us must decide we what stand for — who and what we care about. If we don’t want to find ourselves engaged in ad hominem and strawman arguments, then we must argue for someone or something, not against someone or something. If don’t like our opponent’s position, then we must propose something we think is better and compare and contrast the merits of our proposals.

See, there's this thing called biology...

stawman2All in good fun here, but having been pretty active on the internet for some  20 years now, there is still this elusive beast I have been unable to slay. It is absolutely maddening when the things that need to die, refuse to die.

I speak of the ad hominem and the strawman, not the existence of such things, those are real enough, but the propensity some people have to launch such heady accusations, words one can toss about that allow people to say nothing at all. Even better, such nothingness sounds very smart, as if you are following the rules of logic when no one else is.

As a matter of fact, that right there is the very definition of an ad hominem. What irony. What a strawman.

Does anyone actually fire off  such accusations understanding the definitions? I suggest not. I suggest that in the entire history of…

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