Thursday, February 25, 2021

Personal abuse versus original thought and reasoned argument

Jul 22. 2018
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Elon Musk has been deservedly consigned to the doghouse for his abusive online comments about a member of the cave rescue team.

Yet again we have an example of how easy it is in this age of social media to hammer away at a keyboard without first engaging one’s brain.

We see the same thing quite often in Have Your Say. Nigel Pike and I clearly do not agree on most things, but I again spring to his defence following more criticism of his colourfully expressed opinions on the complex and sensitive issues of gender identity and sexual orientation. 

However, unlike his detractors, who have ignored the issues he raised and merely indulged in ad hominem attacks, Pike went to the trouble of citing evidence which he believes backs up his opinions. Some education specialists apparently agree with statistics showing that very young children can be adversely affected by sex education, but others do not. 

However, that is the basis for an honest debate, not for volleys of verbal ordure.

Eric Bahrt is another contributor who likes to get personal. Some time ago, he accused me of being a glutton merely because I had happily admitted my liking for meat and dairy produce. 

More recently, and after misquoting my correct observation that the pro animal rights organisation PETA had been equivocal in its response to violent acts carried out by animal rights extremists, Mr Bahrt described me as a fool and a liar, which struck me as rather impolite. These sorts of comments reduce what should be informed and intelligent debate to the level of a playground squabble between infants.

Resorting to personal abuse (and I fear I may have been guilty on occasion too) indicates an absence of original thought and reasoned argument. However, I would not dream of asking the editor to edit out any such language, since that would leave Have Your Say a less interesting and chuckle-inducing read, and sadly we would see far fewer letters from the indefatigable Eric Bahrt.

Robin Grant


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