Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ad Hominem, Ad Nauseum

I've been hearing a lot lately about ad hominem arguments. The election has been rife with them. Often, the people shouting "ad hominem" seem to have been recently introduced to the concept, as they use it incorrectly.

I have been mildly critical of Bernie Sanders, at best. At times, I have stated, for example, that he has no K-12 education plan. That is not an ad hominem attack. It is a fact. If someone perceives that as an ad hominem, they are simply wrong. Here's an example:

Bernie Sanders is an idiot. (This is an ad hominem. Before someone attacks me, I have never asserted this and do not believe this to be true).

Bernie Sanders has no K-12 education plan. (This is not an ad hominem. It does not attack the man himself, but his policies or lack thereof.)

See the difference?

I have also been accused of ad hominems by using the term "Bernie Bros". This does not refer to Bernie's supporters, but rather the tiny fraction of them who use racist, sexist, or otherwise demeaning terms in referring to our nominee, Hillary Clinton. These people actually exist. To prove it, here's a quote from Bernie Sanders himself denouncing them: "I have heard about it. It's disgusting," Mr. Sanders said. "Look, we don't want that crap. We will do everything we can, and I think we have tried."

If you still doubt they exist, they have formed a Facebook page called "Bernie Sanders Dank Memes". I don't recommend visiting it, because it is filled with the vile sexism and racism I mentioned earlier. Lest you think this is some fringe group, this page alone has almost 440,000 members as of this writing. Here's an example of what they find funny.


If you find calling the first woman nominated for president by a major party a "whore" funny, then you are a Bernie Bro. If you think it's outrageous, then you're not.

The above "dank meme" is an ad hominem attack. Unless you take the meaning of ad hominem, which in Latin means "to the man", literally, and you think it's OK insult women.

The same people who complain about ad hominems against Bernie also feel perfectly free to call Hillary a criminal, a murderer, and worse, all without any sense of awareness or irony.

For the record, I have been the subject of some ad hominems myself. Most Facebook people are fine with the pro-Clinton stuff I post on Facebook. Some aren't. All I can say is, if you're a FB friend of mine and you don't like it, you are free to unfriend me. You are also free not to read or subscribe to this blog. I'm a big boy. I can take it.

My worst experience was on Twitter. Someone actually threatened to harm my children because I had the audacity to retweet something from Hillary. That person was a Bernie Bro. If you think that kind of stuff is OK, you are a Bernie Bro. 

By the way, if you are one of those people who claim that Hillary "rigged" or "stole" the election, you are engaging in ad hominem attacks. It is a criminal act to tamper with votes, so you are accusing her of being a criminal. The reality is that Hillary earned millions of more votes than Bernie. She earned hundreds of more pledged delegates than Bernie. She won the vast majority of both open and closed primaries. If there had been no superdelegates at all, but a proportional allocation based on votes, she would have won by a huge margin anyway. The only place where Bernie did really well was in caucuses, which is the most undemocratic way to allocate delegates of them all.

Simply put, she won, no matter how you look at it.

In addition, if you are one of those people who call voting for Clinton "the lesser of two evils", you are engaging in an ad hominem attack. You are saying that she is evil, just less so than Trump. That is attacking the person, not the policies.

I first came out for Hillary back in February. I said at the time that if Bernie won, I would support him wholeheartedly, because I knew he'd be a better President than Trump. I am concerned with things like the Supreme Court, the rights of Muslims and Hispanics and women and LGBT folks, and a liberal agenda. I have no doubt that had Bernie won, he would have fought for the people. I wouldn't care about the Bernie supporters who insulted me or threatened my kids and hold it against the man himself. 

If you're concerned about these issues, too, you'll vote for Hillary. 

I don't want to say what you are if you vote for Trump or a third party because your feelings got hurt in the course of a contentious primary. That would be an ad hominem attack. 





2 comments:

ATRNomad said...

So when the head of the CIA calls Hillary "extremely careless", is that an ad hominem attack?

Mr. Talk said...

No, that is an expert opinion by a respected Republican FBI director, who found that Clinton had done nothing illegal. Are you as willing to grant that she is not a criminal?

Careless is bad, but calling on a foreign government, as Trump has, to commit espionage in order to influence an election in his favor is magnitudes of order worse.