26 January 2007
According to Q I “make no arguments only complaints, statements, accusations. [I] use innuendo and hide behind words to smear those that [I] don't like while trying to claim that [I am not] doing any such thing. When [I] do [I am] being sarcastic and if one takes offence then it's ones own fault. If one uses the same ploy against [me] then one is using an ad hominem. In other words [I’m] using different rules for [my]self and those [I] like and a different set of rules for all others.” And, he informs me, “[T]hat isn't exactly a sign of maturity nor a sign of intellectual honesty nor a sign of intelligence.”

In my previous post (to which Q is replying) I offered what I thought were examples, not of sarcasm or smearing, but of assertions I made and which Q dismissed by making statements about me. Again, I define (and I’m hardly alone) ad hominem as the refutation or dismissal of arguments (which to me include any bearers of truth value) by recourse to statements (even if true) about the person making the argument. Q doesn’t deny this as an appropriate definition. He merely denies that I have made any arguments.

How does one respond to all that, except perhaps to say, “That’s convenient”? He can launch these accusations, but I’m at a loss how to defend myself against, or even admit that he’s right. He makes the claims but doesn’t provide the supporting evidence. He says, for example, that I ‘smear.’ Maybe I do. But he doesn’t point to the offending posting(s). Defending myself from, or even admitting to the charge here is like defending myself against a charge of murder without being told who I'm supposed to have murdered, or when, or by what means and without actually seeing the evidence against me! So I won’t bother doing what I cannot reasonably be expected to do.

The argument to which I can respond, as I understand it, is as follows:

1. Ad hominem is a reponse to an argument, not complaints, bold statements, accustions and innuendoes.
2. James Frank Solís does not make arguments, only complaints, bold statements, accusations and innuendoes.
3. Therefore, my responses to him do not constitute ad hominem.

I deny the truth of proposition 1. Here’s my counter-argument:

A. Arguments, complaints, bold statements, accusations, or even bits of innuendo are bearers of truth value; they all make truth claims.
B. Bearers of truth value, whether they be arguments, complaints, bold statements, accusations, or even bits of innuendo are proper subjects of refutation.
C. Ad hominem is an attempt to refute (or dismiss) any bearer of truth value, whether that bearer be an argument, complaint, bold statement, accusation, or even a bit of innuendo.
D. Q acknowledges dismissing my alleged complaints, bold statements, accustions and innuendoes by making statements about me (i.e., the person proferring these supposed complaints, bold statements, accustions and innuendoes).
E. Therefore, Q did engage in ad hominem.

Or, so that Q doesn’t miss it, my argument is:

1. If A and B and C and D, then E.
2. A and B and C and D.
3. Therefore E.

Not to be unnecessarily contrary, but I maintain my claim.

One more thing: It is interesting to note that in a comment in which he denies engaging in any ad hominem he – again – dismisses the claims made in this Brussels Journal Online article, by asserting that the staff of the Journal are all nazis (and, I suppose, that I would have some sympathies in common with nazis):

“No wonder that you like the ramblings of a racist scaremongering hate spouting facist like those on Brusselse Journal. And yes, I know I can't prove that they are all that because even if I had pictures of them all in nazi uniform giving the nazi salute you would still find a way to justify it.”

That last sentence leads me to believe that Q is a profiler. How else to explain his ‘knowledge’ of how I would respond to pictures of book-burning, goose-stepping, Jew-hating, sieg-heiling morons in uniform? As far as I’m concerned a man who’s all but going to call me a nazi sympathizer better be able to prove that those people at the Brussels Journal are nazis. As we say here in the U. S., Q, “Put up, or shut up.”

In all seriousness, though, I just don’t think Q really understands English as well as he thinks he does. In my previous post, responding to Q’s question, “Does one then try to have a deep intellectual debate with [someone who believes in the toothfairy] or just think that the person is a few baskets short of a picknick?” I made the following statement:

“In order to think that the person is a few baskets short of a picnic one would first have to know that there is no toothfairy. But even so, the answer to this question depends upon the proposition to be debated. Let’s say that I am asked to debate Ruth Bader Ginsberg on some proposition related to U.S. constitutional law. It would be irrelevant to my decision to debate her that she believes in the toothfairy. What she believes about the toothfairy is irrelevant to any constitutional question. Note: this is true even if she says that the toothfairy taught her everything she knows about constitutional law. She could be correct about the Constitution, but wrong about who taught it to her.”

In response Q says:

“Your entire Ruth Bader Ginsberg statement made clear how you are so easily led. You ignore all other factors and believe anything anyone states as long as you think it coincides with your beliefs. Suspension of individual reasoning to the max. Congrats.”

This is why I don’t think he understands English very well: my statement wasn’t about Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It was a statement about just why I would go ahead and debate someone who believed in the toothfairy. I’m just not sure how explaining the irrelevance of someone’s belief in the toothfairy to a debate on, in my example, constitutional law shows I’m easily led. I’m not sure what ‘other factors’ I’ve supposedly ignored. ‘All’ is a pretty broad category. The only thing I’m aware of ignoring in my “entire Ruth Bader Ginsberg statement” is the thing that is irrelevant to a debate.

Perhaps Q can explain just how Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s (putative!) belief in the toothfairy should induce me not to debate her on some matter of constitutional law and simply write her off as “a few baskets short of a picknick”? That would be a neat trick.

And for what it's worth, I have the same feelings about Nazis as Indiana Jones: "Nazis. I hate these guys." My Lord was born King of the Jews. I feel no particular fondness for people who hate Jews.


About Me

James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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