Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘personal attacks

The misconception of defensive statements as proof of guilt

with 3 comments

I recently encountered a (sub-)discussione that well illustrates a common misconception: That a defensive statement equals admission of guilt. (The main discussion circles around an anti-Islam academic, does not interest me, and seems to be the same old arguments from both sides.)

Consider the following statements:

(Danny)

I think its fair to say that if you have to end a sentence with “…this statement was not racist,” it was probably a racist sentence.

(Sheikh Jahbooty)

Easy logic.

You communicate. They hear a racist idea. Either you are total crap at communicating or you were communicating a racist idea.

Then you attach, “…this statement was not racist.”

It can mean

1) You are incompetent. (Let’s assume that NYU doesn’t give PHDs to people who lack competence in communicating, although I’m not sure that’s a safe assumption.)

2) You are terribly racist.

(My reply)

Faulty logic:

As case has it, many people abuse the word “racism” to include things that are not racist out of ignorance, while others use it as a (deliberate) personal attack in order to discredit the speaker.

In my native Sweden, e.g., a minority of all uses of “racism” that I have seen the last few years have been justifiable.

In the US, in turn, there are nowadays cases when e.g. criticism directed at Obama or his policies is denounced as racist—despite the fact that Hillary would have been met with the same criticism. (Notwithstanding the possibility that a minority of the criticism does have a racist base.)

See e.g. http://www.aswedeingermany.de/50LanguageAndWriting/50Racism.html for more information.

(Lòt Poto-a)

Well, I always have doubts about the validity or authenticity of someone’s perspective when they are unnecessarily defensive. Think about it. The subject of race comes up in a conversation and the first thing someone says is “I don’t hate white people,” or “I have a black friend” (Just ONE black friend! Ha!).

If you have nothing to hide, then you have no reason to try to defend yourself. End of story.

What happens is simply something very different: There are great groups of people (including racists, anti-racists, Swedish leftist, and feminists) who often fail to argue their case by arguments, but instead tend to use personal attacks, undue generalizations, and distortions of their opponents opinions.

The result is that the opponent again and again sees himself confronted with the same, usually unfair, accusation of e.g. mansplaining. The case of racism is dealt with by the above link, but also in e.g. my discussion of Sverigedemokraterna—the core being that being a racist is not to be confused with (above) being anti-Islam(ism), anti-immigration, or justly criticizing an individual member of a minority on objective grounds. My article series on Unfair argumentation methods has some discussion of the more general topic of name calling instead of arguments.

Now, when again and again confronted with such accusations, it is only natural that one learns to expect them—and this is the reason behind such statements: Not knowledge that one is X, but knowledge that one regularly will be accused of being X.

The above tendency to name calling is sad enough, but the sickening part is that when someone either tries to preempt the unfair accusations or reacts negatively to them—then this is taken as further proof against him! In combination, these argumentless debate methods bring the opponents into a “damned if you do; damned if you do not” situation—either they remain silent and see themselves vilified through a misrepresentation of opinion; or they speak up and are vilified with the very fact that they spoke up as “proof”.

I note in conclusion that some of the most narrow-minded, intolerant, biased, and over-generalizing people I have encountered in the blogosphere and in Swedish politics have been self-declared anti-racists, anti-bigots, and similar—exactly those people who the most loudly complain about narrow-mindedness, intolerance, whatnot, in others.

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Written by michaeleriksson

September 8, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Unfair argumentation methods XII: Stumbling into the hornets’ nest

with 4 comments

Some time yesterday, I skimmed through a post discussing the perceived need for a woman to be “fuckable”e. Seeing a common misperception of what men want and who imposes what onto women, I jotted down the following comment:

My view, as a man (and while I cannot guarantee that I speak for the majority, I do speak for many others):

If women would spend less time and money on their looks, I would be quite happy. Apart from shaving, most of what a woman needs to do for men are things that she should do anyway—for the sake of her health and hygien. Break-legs heels, stinky perfume, too much make-up, weight-obsessions, whatnot, have a negative net-effect.

By the by, unlike what is claimed above, there is something that men spend similar amounts of money on—drinks, dinners, movie tickets, whatnot to get women.

Unfortunately, I was too much in a hurry to move onto a topic I had not already heard several dozen times—and overlooked that the page was not a discussion among “normal” women, who happened to have a faulty understanding of the men’s side and might be open to a friendly pointer, but had a strong pro-Dworkin take (for those not in the know, Andrea Dworkinw is the patron saint of men-should-be-gassed-to-death-in-concentration-camps feminists).

(While I almost always read the post, and usually the comments, carefully before commenting, some issues are simply so repetitive that they can be “filed away” too soon and be given a stock answer.)

The ensuing until the point where I unsubscribed to comments:

(factcheckme)

AaaaaahahahahHahahahahaha! HAHAHAHAHAHHA!! Anyone care to take a crack at this clown? I’m a little busy at the moment. Remember: he speaks for many others. But my guess is, he listens for none.

(That this comment is directed at me is clear from the notification email, but not unambigiously from the page.)

Note the complete lack of arguments, the extremely derogatory tone, the insults and ad hominem attacks, and the wild and unfounded speculations.

(me)

Since when is bringing in a perspective that you lack being a clown? Since when is it OK to use vague and unfounded ad hominem attacks against people you do not even know?

(I can, by the way, assure that I listen to far more people and opinions than the typical person.)

A more than polite answer considering the circumstances.

(factcheckme)

Yes, and you are demonstrating your fine listening skills now. By continuing to talk. I may or may not deal with you later, and others may or may not respond to you as well. In the meantime, this is the sound of you, shutting the fuck up.

Note the oft-observed feminist wish to disallow any dissenting comments and the further use of ad hominem attacks, with the addition of a threatening tone. That she further presumes to, very rudely, dictate to me what I should or should not do is moving into the inexcusable.

(sonia)

I just want to say this, douche lord.

THE ENTIRE FUCKING POINT OF THIS BLOG IS THAT WOMEN DON’T HAVE TO “DO” ANYTHING “FOR MEN.”

Except, apparently, get schooled in perspectives we “lack.”

The fact that you think you can speak on the experience of women in a
definitive way makes you a misogynist.

More of the same old, with the addition of the standard claim that the opponent is a misogynist. To make matters worse, this claim is made based on a very severe distortion of what I actually say (I do not speak on the experiences of women, I speak of a man’s perspective); further, even if I did speak on women’s experiences, this would not in anyway make me a misogynist (and I note that feminists quite often presume to speak about men’s experiences and, worse, intents in a way that demonstrates that they have no clue about what goes on in a man.)

The one point of even semi-merit is the formulation “needs to do for men” in my original comment, which I grant could conceivably be misunderstood—but where any sensible thinker correctly would assume that I in context meant “needs to do for the purpose of getting men” (or some variation of the same). Certainly, anyone applying Hanlon’s Razor would stop to at least ask for a clarification or to qualify her responses—to jump out in all-caps, shouting obscenities, is the act of a child.

(sonia)

“Since when is it OK to use vague and unfounded ad hominem attacks against people you do not even know?”

Oooh! Oooh! I know! I know!

When that person doesn’t have a penis?

Again a very childish behaviour that tries to deflect the issue from the extreme rudeness and unfair argumentation of factcheckme—and turn into yet another men-are-evil/women-are-victims argument. (The more hypocritical, seeing that personal attacks is a standard strategy among many feminists.)

In the end, feminist like these do far more damage than good to their own cause.

Written by michaeleriksson

August 11, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Unfair argumentation methods IIIa: Follow-up to preceding post

leave a comment »

Looking at some further comments, the situation has changed in character, but remains bad: After reconciliatory statements by Darsh (a born diplomat, it appears; taking a very “New Testament” approach) the tone of the comments have gone from “You are an evil idiot.” to “You are horribly misguided and should do your best to benefit from our wisdom.”—something so absurd that I do not know whether I should laugh, cry, or get mad. (In fact, I will be unsubscribing to the comments, seeing that there is little knowledge and information to be gained, but much aggravation.) In many ways, it is like a group of average fifteen y.o. school girls trying to lecture an intelligent adult. Certainly, these women would do well to read up on the Dunning-Kruger effectw

These follow-ups demonstrate several other common components in similar discussions (mostly from a larger context than, specifically, rape):

  1. An undue and over-large tendency to claim the moral high-ground. (While everyone tends to make this erroneously at least some of the time, those whose who are bit further in their development tend to do it less often and for better reasons—and stand a far greater chance of legitimately doing so.)

    Similarly, some people (in particular women, for some reason) have a tendency of considering someone who (in their opinion) is factually wrong to, ipso facto, also be morally wrong.

  2. Claims along the lines of “We are so tired of explaining this again and again.” or “It is not our responsibility to teach you. You have to learn for yourself.”:

    Firstly, if person A wants to convince person B, it is the responsibility of person A to provide the corresponding arguments. It is not acceptable to just claim to be right and ask the other party to educate himself. If the issue is recurring, write an article on the issue for future linking—or link to a pre-existing one.

    Secondly, many of these claims, in my experience, have been made in cases were the point to be explained is either flat-out wrong or, at best, implausible or just applying in some special cases. If someone goes around claiming, e.g., that the world is flat, then he has to live with repetition—other people will want to know what leads to this claim, before they give it any credibility.

    Thirdly, there are many, many issues where more rational and better informed people have gone to lengths explaining e.g. that the “women earn 70 cents of the dollar” claim is at best highly misleading, at worst completely bogus—yet this does not stop feminists from repeating it again, and again, and again. (This specific issue will be discussed in one of the upcoming articles.)

  3. Reversal of Hanlon’s Razor and presumption of guilt, even to the point of considering someone guilty in the absence of any sign or indication of a crime. (As if a police officer would arrest a man with the claim “He has a criminal face, so he is bound to have robbed the little old lady next door.”—even when there is no indication whatsoever that the little old lady has actually been robbed…)

  4. The common “If you have not been raped, your knowledge in any related question is, ipso facto, inferior.” theme of rape discussions (often extended to any and all aspects of the discussion in question, even if not actually rape-related):

    Obviously, this is a grave fallacy, because this only relates to a part of the subject—and, in fact, seems to cause more clouding of reason than enlightenment. In what way, e.g., does being raped increase a woman’s ability to judge the risk of any particular man being a rapist? (On the contrary, in many cases, her ability will decrease due to an irrational fear—as is the case with other crime victims too.) In what way would she be better able to judge a semantic difference between blame and responsibility? What constitutes a reasoned argument and what a vicious personal attack?

Notably, while being a rape victim is horrible, it is not an excuse for an adult woman to behave like a child, to ignore what others actually say (as opposed to interpreting in something completely different), to use unfair argumentation methods, to use personal attacks, or similar. If she cannot abstain from this, then it is in the best interest of the discussion that she voluntarily abstains from taking part in it at all. In fact, while I am very much in favour of free speech and debate, such excesses as those by violent rabbit (possibly also blue milk, herself) are justifiable cause for a forced exclusion from the debate. In contrast, there is nothing in any statement by Darsh that would warrant an exclusion. (Note that the critical issue is not what opinion is held, but how it is promoted, how others and their opinions are treated, etc.)

Of course, in the end, these women do more harm than good to their cause by antagonizing men who might have been sympathetic to it, diminishing their own credibility severely, or even (depending on whom and what discussion) appearing as man-haters, fanatics, or rabid feminists.

Statements like the following certainly do not help:

Cristy:

I tried to comment on this post earlier today, because it made me think about the parallels with how female victims of homicide are accorded some ‘responsibility’ for provoking their male killers (by trying to leave them, for example), while male victims are not (despite having threatened the life of the female perpetrators and subjecting them to years of violent abuse).

In reality, to all evidence I have seen so far, it is exactly the other way around: Women are given a systematically more lenient treatment and are given access to the provocation excuse (in various forms and shapes) to a higher degree—even to the point that some feminists have argued for the inclusion of this systematic difference in the law it self (including, IIRC, Harriet Harman). Cf. e.g. the related categories at http://www.mens-links.net/home.aspe.

As an aside, I use the phrase “ipso facto” in this article series at a rate far higher than I usually do. This is for the simple reason that faulty “ipso-facto thinking” is common in many of the situations and groups discussed.

(If you wish to comment, please make sure that you have read Unfair argumentation methods I: Preliminaries first.)

Written by michaeleriksson

June 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Unfair argumentation methods III: Intermezzo on rape debates

with 6 comments

After posting a new article, I usually have a look at the WordPress pages for the tags I have used. This I did yesterday too, and stumbled onto an excellent example of some of the issues I discuss in this series of articles:

A discussion of rape, blame, and responsibilitye was started by what appears to be a reasoned good-faith comment landing in the eyes of an active feminist, who responded with a long, mostly irrelevant post (but probably still a good faith post). Critically the post-author (blue milk) did not seem be understand the semantic differentiation the original commenter (Darsh) made—thereby basing her attacks on him on entirely faulty assumptions. The same applies to many of the subsequent commenters. In my one comment (so far), I tried to give some help in understanding it by quoting a very thought-worthy poem:

Here lies the body of William Jay
Who died maintaining his right of way
He was right, dead right, as he sped along,
But he’s just as dead as if he were wrong.

(Attributed to the Boston Evening Transcriptw)

Unfortunately, after the original post, things went out of hand more or less immediately, including comments (my commentary in brackets) like:

  • Darsh: Out of curiosity, could I ask what happened so that you didn’t get raped?

    thewhatifgirl: Why? So that you can use that as a reason to judge other women for “getting raped”? No, it’s none of your goddamn business.

    [Note the accusative tone, the presumption of Darsh being malicious (the complete opposite of my impression), and the rudeness. What is wrong with “No, that is too private.”?]

  • Gappy:

    “Guys regularly need to press on through token resistance from girls”???

    WTF? Token resistance? No clearly doesn’t always mean no in your book Darsh.

    [Token resistance is very common, and pressing through token resistance is very different from raping someone, be it in intents, methods, or willingness of the counter-part—in the same way that haggling over the price during a garage sale is different from breaking into the garage at night and stealing the item.]

    Remind me never to get myself in a situation where I’m alone with you. I imagine that might be very irresponsible of me indeed.

    [Here the implicit (and, from what I have read, entirely unfounded) accusation that Darsh is a likely rapist is raised.]

  • violent rabbit:

    Yes, you are. All men are rapists.

    [A long standing, paranoid, and misandrist lie, which I really should not need to comment upon.]

  • violent rabbit: [In reply to a perfectly reasonable comment made by Darsh]

    LOL “avoid”

    GO HOME

    3. “bears…responsibility”

    GO HOME AND NEVER COME OUT AGAIN

  • violent rabbit: [In reply to a perfectly reasonable comment made by Darsh]

    Like not leading him on? By dressing sexy, making eye contact, walking home from work at night? Right!

    GO HOME UNTIL YOU’VE GROWN A BRAIN

    GO HOME

    GO

    HOME

  • Moonmaid:

    I think men react in such a way (like @Darsh), because rape (or violence in general) is not something allowing for much shading and rationalization. Rape is an emotional issue, which requires us to take sides. So men are much rather inclined to side with the rapist than the victim, because otherwise they would be required to show some empathy and turn against their own kind. Siding with the victim also requires you to experience and endure a minimum of their pain. It’s much easier to stay away from such feeling by victimizing the victim.

    [Highly speculative, contains specious reasoning, and is unduely accusative of both men (in general) and Darsh (in particular).]

  • violent rabbit: [Directed at my, so far, sole comment on the thread—which I consider extremely reasoned in the light of the tone and behaviour of most other commenters.]

    GO HOME TROLL

    FFS

    LOL TONE ARGUMENT FROM A CONCERNED MAN MANSLPAINING TO US WHIMMINS

    GO HOME AND NEVER COME OUT AGAIN

  • bluemilk:

    Darsh, your views are way out of step with the other women and men who visit this blog. Your ignorance on this subject actually offends people, including me, so the onus is on you now to take some time to go away and read and think and educate yourself.

    [His views may be out of step with the others, but that is just because he happened to get involved in discussion with many less-than-reasoned feminists, and is certainly not a reason to silence him—but, as I have pointed out in a number of posts, that is exactly what some groups want to do to dissenters. He has shown no signs of ignorance, and certainly I find the behaviour of the other commenters far more offensive. The concluding claim would carry greater justification if directed e.g. at bluemilk, herself, or violent rabbit]

  • Someone:

    I hate to say it, but maybe @Darsh needs to get raped to see the other side of this. It’s obvious there’s no reasoning with him in any other fashion.

    [The first sentence says all we need to know about “Someone”; the second, demonstrates that she has not understood what Darsh was saying.]

  • Blue milk: [In an added statement to the original post.]

    WARNING: the same person who left the comment to which this post responds has also entered the comment thread below. He continued to attempt to argue that women bore some responsibility for rape. Many others have argued against him and I will be moderating any further comments of his, but I have left his existing comments untouched as I think there is some useful discussion happening in response to them. This thread might be upsetting to you, please let me know if this is the case and if you think I would be better to remove his comments altogether.

    [Note the extreme degree of censorship suggested towards the ad rem argumentation of Darsh—while viscious attacks from other commenters are allowed to stand. Speaking for myself, I find a lot of the thread upsetting, namely the intellectual dishonesty, lack of reason and perspective, inability to understand others points of view, etc., that are displayed by the other posters. Darsh, in contrast, has remained within the lines the entire time (even in the face of gravest provocation) and his one sin is merely this: Having another opinion the majority of the commenters… I note, further, that his opinions are again misrepresented or, in a best case, misunderstood even in this “warning”.]

(If you wish to comment, please make sure that you have read Unfair argumentation methods I: Preliminaries first.)

Written by michaeleriksson

June 6, 2010 at 1:16 pm