Subject: Re: Kent, why do you use free software
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 05:18:51 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Thomas Bushnell, BSG
| It's an attack on the person, but not an attack on the person intended to
| disprove what he has said.  Is that worded the way you want?

  What other function does such an attack have?  What path to absolution
  have you provided?  Criticism that does not have any built-in means of
  going away is purely destructive.  I see that you engage in this, while
  you get really pissed a me for offering you a path to absolutuion that
  you do not want to use.  This is not particularly inspiring to watch.

| The fallacy of "ad hominem" argument is where one attempts to disprove P
| by attacking the character of the persons who assert P.

  "Disprove"?  Please return to Rhetorics 101 and figure out the difference
  between "disprove" and "dismiss".  It is quite crucial in this context,
  but it seems that you do indeed think you can legitimately dismiss an
  argument because of some personal flaw of the arguer, which you have most
  certainly told _me_ with you disgusting behavior that you do and would,
  yet you have not quite appreciated that I do not return that moronic mode
  of dealing with people.  When you make valid, interesting arguments, I
  respond to them as such, ignoring for the moment that I think you are a
  bad person, because it has nothing to do with your argument or question.
  I think some of those who go completely nuts over my treatment of bad
  actions really need a wake-up call about this, but I believe that bad
  people do not differentiate between bad people and bad actions -- that is
  what makes them bad people.  Good people can do bad things, just as bad
  people can do good things.  In a professional forum where people exchange
  information focused on and relevant to a particular topic, what matters
  is what people do with the on-topic information exchange, but the rest
  should effectively be ignored.  It seems to me that you are less able to
  do that than your own behavior and personality should warrant.

  If you accuse someone of hypocrisy and they just ignore or accept the
  charges and do nothing about it, will you continue to point it out or
  lower your opinion of the arguments made by that person, or will it
  matter to you in any way?  If it matters to you in any way and you change
  your behavior towards on-topic discussion, you are a bigoted asshole and
  the argument was ad hominem.  If you wanted to make someone change their
  behavior in some constructive way in order to improve their argument,
  that would be relevant to the on-topic information exchange.  I cannot
  imagine how an accusation of hypocrisy has any such constructive goal.

| In this case, while I certainly did intend that (mild) attack on Kent's
| character, I did not venture it as a way to disprove what he was saying,
| which must also be addressed on its own terms.

  What for?  Well, I think I know thw answer: you are a bad person.

| So, when Kent says that free software is a big nasty harmful thing, I
| think he's probably lying to us.  I think he really believes that
| *other* people should avoid free software and pay software hoarders
| tolls, but that it's perfectly fine for him to use free software.  

  In other words, you have used the ad hominem attack as a means to dismiss
  his argument because you think he is lying, which is another ad hominem
  attack without merit.  You are such a shitty character, Thomas, I think
  you should not have _any_ problems accepting that others are better than
  you even though they may be lying hypocrites.

  The purpose of a public debate is not to figure out which single color to
  paint some of the debaters, although you seem to think it is.  The real
  purpose is to find out if something is true or useful to the furtherance
  of both individual and collective goals and values.  For instance, I may
  hold the view and argue that HTML is the very incarnation of idiocy and
  propose a new language to solve all its problems, but in order to reach
  people on the Net today, I have to publish that using HTML, and to be
  read, I probably have to use several of the disgusting presentation tools
  that the Web needs these days.  Is this hypocritical in your view?  Would
  you think I am lying?  Would you dismiss my arguments because you are
  such a bad person that you look first for hypocrisy and only in its
  absence at the arguments?  What _else_ has higher priority than the truth
  or usefulness of the argument to you?

| But the propositions he advocates certainly require their own response.
| Even if Kent is lying when he asserts them, they still stand on their
| own, and deserve a direct answer as well---as indeed, they have gotten.
| An attack on the person is sometimes appropriate--as you certainly
| seem to relish.

  I think you have some serious mental blockage between reality and what
  you think about it.  You can do something about this: JUST THINK!

| It does not replace an attack on the person's ideas (which would be to
| use a fallacious ad hominem argument), but it is still independently
| valuable.

  No, it is not.  If you stink because you never shower, that is not
  valuable to know about you in a discussion.

| And then you launch into another amazingly unreadable tirade.  Ah well,
| my newsreader had edged your rating up, and then suddenly it just
| plummets again.

  You seem to live by the ad hominem, Thomas Bushnell, and you have no
  constructive purpose with your arguments whatsoever.  That is what makes
  you a bad person, even an evil person.  However, as long as you manage to
  keep yourself under control and just post on-topic material, this is
  immaterial to me.  When your evil personality rears its ugly head, you
  will of course hear about it.  Especially now that you have given me a
  license to defame your character because it is "independently valuable".
  Because, I gather, you also think hypocrisy is bad, and therefore what
  you think is good for you is good against you, right?  Or is hypocrisy
  bad only when Kent does it and not when you do it?  Either way, you lose.

  In a fight against something, the fight has value, victory has none.
  In a fight for something, the fight is a loss, victory merely relief.