Ad Hominem, My Sweet: The Fallacy That Usually Isn’t

Ad Hominem, My Sweet: The Fallacy That Usually Isn’t

For the closing days of summer, I am posting every chapter of the first edition of Everything You Believe Is Wrong. My enemies ravaged the first edition, inserting typos galore while I was distracted in the service of our people. I here leave their efforts untouched, so that the insidiousness of their behavior is plain. Meanwhile, I am completely revamping and expanding the book, and looking forward to incorporating your comments and criticisms (no need to point out typos and grammar errors). The second edition will be glorious.

This is the Chapter 2: Ad Hominem, My Sweet.

Moose Meat


MOOSE: “Hey, Hayden. C’mere.”

HAYDEN: “Not now, Moose. Please?”

MOOSE: “What are you? Deaf as well as stupid? I said get over here.”

HAYDEN: “But Moose—Ouch! That hurts!”

MOOSE: “When I say get over here, it means get over here. You savvy?”

HAYDEN: “Okay, so I’m here. What’s so urgent this time.”

MOOSE: “I got somethin’ to tell you, and I don’t want no argument about it. You ready? Listen good, ’cause I ain’t gonna repeat it, and you better have it—or else. Got me? Here it is. If P, then Q. Q. Therefore P. Now say it back.”

HAYDEN: “Hey! There’s no need to hit me. I heard you. If P, then Q. Q. Therefore P.”

MOOSE: “Whadda ya know! He can learn!”

HAYDEN: “Only…”

MOOSE: “Only what, smart ass.”

HAYDEN: “Only…oh never mind. Look, I’m late to see my mother. She expects me. You know if I don’t show or call, she worries.”

MOOSE: “Mama’s boy. But you’re not gettin’ outta here until you have it. Now, do you have it. Yes or no?”

HAYDEN: “I have it. But-it-isn’t-right! Please don’t hit me.”

MOOSE: “Whadda ya mean it ain’t right! I told you. That should be enough for you.”

HAYDEN: “But…but…isn’t that a formal fallacy? That I should believe you just because you threatened me? Isn’t it like saying, `If you’re beating me up, you must be angry. You’re angry. Therefore, you’re beating me up.'”

MOOSE: “That’s right, Ethel. I am angry.”

HAYDEN: “Yeah, Moose, but you get angry at other things, like not being able to get a toot on, and you don’t beat me up then. You need to say instead that `If you’re beating me up, you must be angry. You’re beating me up. Therefore, you’re angry.'”

MOOSE: “Don’t give me any of that shyster `fallacy’ malarkey. You just say what I tell you and you’ll get through this.”

HAYDEN: “Hey! I told you! No Hitting!”

MOOSE: “I’ll do what I need to. Just so you know that. I’ll do what I need to.”

HAYDEN: “Someday, Moose…You just wait and see.”

MOOSE: “Ha! I don’t know why I like smacking you around so much. It must be that sweet look you get on your puss. Now say it again.”

HAYDEN: “Fine! If P, then Q! Q! Therefore P! Have it your way!”

MOOSE: “That’s right, Spunky. My way. It’s—”


PHILIP: “—Hello, big guy. Circus in town?”

MOOSE: “What? Just who do—”

PHILIP: “—Only I just heard your girlfriend here, and she’s right. Right twice. You can’t bully him into believing a fallacy. Affirming the consequent is as old an error as denying Truth exists.”

MOOSE: “Listen, Pal. You don’t blow, I’ll deny you exist.”

PHILIP: “Let’s see how you like your own line. `If you hold to fallacies, you’re a bully. You’re a bully. Therefore you hold to fallacies.'”

MOOSE: “Who you callin’ a bully! Ethel likes it. Don’t ya, spunky.”

HAYDEN: “He hit me!”

MOOSE: “Besides, you can’t tell me I’m wrong because I’m givin’ Spunky what he needs. That’s your own fallacy bright boy. A grade-A ad hominem.”

PHILIP: “No, it isn’t.”

MOOSE: “The hell it ain’t. I know what you’re tryin’ to do. You’re appealing to Spunky’s prejudices and emotions, his special interest in not being pushed around, rather than to his intellect or reason. And you’re attacking my character rather than answering my argument. That’s an ad hominem, pal. No gettin’ around it.”

PHILIP: “If you don’t drop the mitts from my lapels, I’m going to air you out with my roscoe. And that’s no fallacy.”

HAYDEN: “Don’t hurt him, Moose!”

MOOSE: “Ah, these amateur philosophers ain’t worth hurtin’. Now blow, Socrates, before I squeeze your spinal column into some symbolic logic.”

PHILIP: “Who wants to stay? Brawn is no substitute for brains.”

MOOSE: “See what I mean, Spunky? A little friendly pressure and Socrates here starts in with remarks which cannot be construed as necessary or objective. Ad hominem all the way.”

HAYDEN: “You should be nice to Moose, mister. He doesn’t take disagreement well.”

PHILIP: “Nicest thing you can do for somebody is tell them the truth. And, brother, was I nice. Now he has it. But he doesn’t want it.”

MOOSE: “What truth? All I hear are insults. You think by makin’ me look bad in front of Spunky here, that we’ll forget you don’t have an argument. Noting’ but distractions.”

PHILIP: “There are none so blind as those who won’t listen.”

MOOSE: “Ha! He can’t even keep his metaphors straight. C’mon, Spunky. We’re never going to get through to this guy. So long, Socrates.”

HAYDEN: “Okay, Moose. We can go. But we have to see mother.”


You Bigot!

A Rhetorical Question

Suppose you are a person of some public exposure, a known celebrity, and that you were of the opinion that a man masturbating into another man’s rectum was immoral. Further suppose that your opinion became known to the students of the prestigious college at which you were scheduled to speak, your subject being a matter unrelated to masturbation; say, the physics of black holes.

What do you suppose might happen?

That I do not have to answer that question, that it is entirely rhetorical, that regardless of the reader’s philosophical or political background the answer is plain, that even if you are saying to yourself “It wouldn’t happen!”, when we all know what this “it” is, is all proof the You Bigot Fallacy, a form of the Ad Hominem Fallacy. The You Bigot is implanted firmly in our culture.

It is now thought more than sufficient to answer any argument by calling its holder a (and I’ll skip the scare quotes) bigot, racist, fascist, sexist, misogynist, Nazi, anti-Semite, white supremacist, homophobe, transphobe or some other asinine label. These names are like magic spells and can, it is thought, crush Reality itself.


People reason something like this: a person making an undesirable argument is, or is presumed to be a bigot (etc.), the suspicion being sufficient proof; therefore, whatever this person has to say on any subject must be suppressed, is wrong, is in error, unworthy, or false.

If this person is given any sympathy, even for his true or accepted ideas, people will eventually be conned into believing his condemned and forbidden ideas. Or, rather, it is more like the person is unclean, and that mere contact with him could spread the horrible disease he carries.

Minds addle easily these days, so I am under the ridiculous burden to explain that this behavior is a fallacy. It does not follow that because you are, in fact, a bigot that masturbating into another man’s rectum is moral. The woman screeching “Bigot!” at you of course thinks this non-procreative activity is moral.

But she has not proved her case, nor proved you wrong, with her outburst. She has certainly done nothing to prove false, to question, or to even cast doubt upon the unrelated subject (of physics or whatever) on which you will speak. She has proved nothing except that she is a bully in the grip of rage. Again, even if you are indeed a bigot, your being informed of it at high volume and with spittle blasted into your face does not change the logical status of any argument you might make.

The whole thing becomes farcical when you consider that nobody bothers to define any of these insults. What exactly is a homophobe, bigot, etc.? Does anyone precisely demarcate what a transphobe is and therefore what one is not? No such definition will be offered in the heat of battle, nor is there any definition close to universal agreement offered in the calms between storms.

It Really Is Okay To Be White

It’s made even worse when the names are affixed under the flimsiest of evidence. If you say, as some have said on posters, “It’s OKAY to be white”, then you, if you are white, are called a racist—and quite possibility a Nazi white supremacist to boot. If a random white person who agrees with the poster’s messages complains about being called a racist, then because the running academic theory that all whites are inherently racist, your complaint is proof of your white fragility, which in turn is proof of your racism.

Apparently, the only proper response to the claim that all whites are racist is to agree.

This is one idea the debased have not well thought out. As of this writing, a vocal minority of whites have bought the theory that they themselves are irredeemably racist. The majority don’t accept it. Not only that, but the more ordinary whites are condemned, the more likely they are to think there is something to white supremacy.

This is rational, too, given those screaming “white supremacy” have demonstrated a substantial inferiority, in at least reasoning power.

However that works out, there is a logical point to all this. Because no definition of these scary names is to be had, then, even if it were not a fallacy to scream one of them, the lack of a definition means screeching “Bigot!” is equivalent to shouting “Sliterfusk!” or whatever other nonsense sound you like. No argument of any kind is being made by the screecher. She is having a tantrum. Tantrums aren’t arguments.

Did Nazi This Coming

Aren’t Nazis bad things? They sure are. But so are communists, they having a won the Twentieth Century Body Count Contest. So are torturers bad. So are usurers bad; though many take home nice paychecks. Many people are less than we should like them to be.

Banning people from speaking should depend on the content of what the speaker will say. If a man mounts the podium to ask his audience to actively ferret out anti-revolutionaries, i.e. whites, and have them shot (or starved or sent to a gulag or etc.) the man should be turned away. But if the man instead only wants to share the delights and economic advantages of communistic slave labor, in a purely theoretical sense, well, you don’t have to listen.

There are limits to speech. There is a line between a speaker inciting a riot, or worse, and who therefore ought to be stopped or silenced, and a speaker who is merely offering an offensive (to some) argument. This line is naturally dependent on a host of circumstances. I will attempt no general definition.

It is clear the fallacy of today is that this line extends all the way to thought crimes. Why should we allow thought crimes, people are asking themselves? Crimes are crimes, and crime ought to be wiped out, suppressed, or otherwise interdicted. Right? Isn’t it a worse crime not to stop crime when you had the opportunity? The answers people are giving to these increasingly rhetorical questions are why there is so much smugness and strong feelings of moral virtue about these days.

There is a small fallacy aligned with this section called the Hate Speech Fallacy. It is said “hate speech” should not be allowed. If the speech is, indeed, inciting to riot, then few would disagree. But mere hate is not incitement.

Hate has got a bad name. Many things should be hated. To say that because a man hates a thing that therefore the thing is morally good is the Hate Speech Fallacy. This should be as obvious as saying women aren’t men. Beside, everybody knows the purple-haired harpy screeching against hate is hate-filled herself, thus any argument she gives would be self-refuting if the Hate Speech Fallacy were not a fallacy.

Error Has Rights, Too!

No-platformers, as the power-mad students who refuse to let audiences hear what these students find offensive, espouse the theory, whether they know it or not (and, judging by their tenor, probably not), that error has no rights. To them, the speaker is in error in what he has to say, or in what he has said on other subjects, or in what he is surely thinking; therefore, since error has no rights, his speech must be suppressed.

Suppose a man insists that Julius Caesar was killed not on the ides of March, but on the ides plus one; that is, on the 16th. He presents his “proof”, but it is seen by any versed in history and mathematics to be in error. The assassination really was on the 15th. But our man refuses to admit his error, and continues to tell any friend, Roman, or countryman who will lend an ear that the 16th is the proper date.

Should he be stopped? What if somebody believes him? Is it possible his error could spread and that soon every school child will chant “Beware the ides-plus-one of March!”? Would we want to live in such a world?

The man is in error. He is wrong. If error has no rights, then neither has this man any right to preach his mistake. We can jail him, and keep his cancerous view from reaching innocent ears, but he would still be able to taint fellow inmates and jailers, even if he is solitary (via Morse code through the walls). Other inmates will be converted. When these converted are eventually released, they will infect others. This can’t be allowed. Clearly, then, the man has to die. Error has no rights.

It then follows that unless there is perfect, absolute certainty in a pronouncement, including pronouncements about an uncertain future, it cannot be said or heard. Few are such pronouncements—though they do exist. Given the large uncertainty that exists in most other propositions, the world must necessarily be silent on most things. Nothing new could be learned at the risk of supposing something false. The best we could hope for is a Central Agency that dictates all approved opinions, that are forever unchangeable, for if any item in the list changes by one letter, it must be because the old item was in error. We’re close to the now, of course, but were Falsity and not Truth is protected.

Since error has no rights, no change is possible. This is why gaslighting and memory-holing are such necessary weapons for the tyrant: past-error is impossible, thus it could not have happened, and anybody who claims it has has forfeited his right to life.

Since all this is obviously absurd, it must follow that error in fact has some rights. Or that we mean something other than error. Which, indeed, we do. Absolute error can be said to have no rights. But uncertainty can, and must.

Take religious freedom for example, which most take to be good. A man may worship which god that pleases him, within certain boundaries. But since the existence of one god may imply it is logically impossible for the god of another man to exist, at least one man is in error. If error has no rights, neither does false worship have rights. We then have to dictate which religion is best. (Do not fall into the One True Spartacus Fallacy, Chapter [Religion] and suppose that because some make a religious error all necessarily do.)

The Catholic Church has announced in its catechism that religious freedom “has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as…is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.” But just as with speakers, lines must be drawn. The religion of the Aztecs, with its plentiful and barbaric human sacrifices cannot and must not be tolerated. Some religions can and must be suppressed. Error has rights, but it also has limits. Speech has limits. It is not, then, the act of barring people from speaking that is a universal fallacy. Some speakers should be muffled. It is only that the students are banning the wrong people, or banning based on over-certainty or fallacies in their beliefs.

Those limits will always be conditional on circumstances. There is no general theory of limits, without it being heavily contingent on circumstances and peoples.

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  1. Brian (bulaoren)

    Methinks somebody’s been brushing up their Damon Runyon. Still, da troot’s da troot.

  2. BDavi52

    “People reason something like this: a person making an undesirable argument is, or is presumed to be a bigot (etc.), the suspicion being sufficient proof; therefore, whatever this person has to say on any subject must be suppressed, is wrong, is in error, unworthy, or false.”

    I suspect, actually, it’s the other way round.

    We’re dealing here with the insanity of Hoffer’s “True Belief”…and True Belief flows from Revelation…and Revelation provides the fundamental ‘truths’ from which everything else is derived. The Progressive KNOWS, (per Revelation) that homosexuality is Normal. And he knows this because the fundamental underlying truth is that WHATEVER a human desires (in a sexual/appetite sense) creates Normal.

    But ‘normal’ itself is the wrong word.

    Progressives equally KNOW (per Revelation) that there is no such thing as normal. There is only Happy & Unhappy. Happiness, of course, comes from full, complete, validated Self Expression. Unhappiness comes from Oppression (the denial of self-expression). Good is created through validation of the expression, whatever it may be. ‘Heaven on Earth’ is created by the sum of all these Personal Goods. “If it makes you Happy, it can’t be that Bad!” (#10 on the Billboard Charts in ’96)

    It’s the reification of Lennon’s “Imagine”.

    This is why we’re only a short hop, skip & jump from normalizing pedophilia, bestiality, etc. as yet more ‘personal moral goods’, right up there with transphilia.

    Thus, anyone who declares that a ‘personal good’ (a human desire, naturally expressed) is perverse, evil, or wrong, is absolutely a Bigot. You can’t object to ‘personal goods’ and not be a bigot. But ‘bigot’ itself is also the wrong word. It’s why ‘Nazi’ is commonly used. Not only does ‘nazi’ convey bigotry, it also conveys homicidal, sociopathic evil. And who would argue that homicidal, sociopathic evil should be tolerated? Who would argue that Satan himself (of course the Progressive denies the existence of Satan) should be given a platform from which to preach?

    Do we even need to add whatever an Anti-Progressive Satan would have to say would be equally wrong, homicidal, sociopathic, and evil?

    The mistake is in thinking that the Progressive rejection of any & every counter-perspective is — in any way — logic based. It’s not. The identification of logic fallacies in the Progressive Argument is pointless save as reassurance to all of us who still cling to what the Chinese Red Guard condemned as The Four Olds”: Old Ideas, Old Customs, Old Habits, Old Ideas. Of course clinging to such things during China’s own ‘Cultural Revolution’ very quickly got you killed.

    In the end, sadly, the existence of Logic Potholes in the Red Book of Progressive Dogma doesn’t matter. They don’t need to argue that these potholed arguments ‘crush reality’ because they don’t recognize the existence of reality. This why we can find statements like this: “At just 2 years old, Neal already knew she was a girl. At 4 years old she told her parents.”

    Mad Hatters all, they welcome us to Wonderland.

    “In January, 9 year old Jackson was the first transgender person featured on the cover of National Geographic. When asked what she liked most about being a girl, Jackson said simply that she likes how she does not have to act like someone she is not.”

    Neither Tweedledee or Dum could have said it any better.

  3. Cary D Cotterman


    Hayden…………………..Eddie Bracken
    Moose…………………….Mike Mazurki
    Philip……………………..Humphrey Bogart

  4. Cary D Cotterman

    I just saw the accompanying photo of Mazurki and Bogart, after I wrote my previous comment. Shows how good Briggs is at writing 1940s dialogue that I immediately pictured those two in his little play.

  5. Hagfish Bagpipe

    Briggs, your enemies love, “Moose Meat” — not a typo to be found. Not a missing comma, period, quote or close-quote. Perfectly polished, and it’s a complex composition. I think they appreciate the conflict between what is ideal, in the platonic sense, as expressed by Phillip, and how the world actually works, as expressed by Moose and Hayden. So the enemies allowed its publication in your flawless original. Consider expanding this delightful script into a full length feature, or perhaps a short, to begin, and filming the episode at your Great Northern studios, using local actors, of which I’ve no doubt there are serious talents. I will fly in to do the lighting. Noir is my specialty. You have the makings of a fine scriptwriter. We’ll show the shits how it’s done. No money? Even better. Money ruins everything.

  6. Hagfish Bagpipe

    BDavi52 — “They don’t need to argue that these potholed arguments ‘crush reality’ because they don’t recognize the existence of reality.”

    A fine comment. But in the end, reality does crush. Of course, there’s a good deal of mishegaas between the meshugga flotsam and the crushing jetsam.

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