Civility Isn’t Just a Word

Just because you happen to dislike someone, is it fair to use abusive language to attack their ideas or ideology?

Personally, I don’t believe that it’s right. It’s alright to criticize and even mock those that you disagree with, but why degenerate into abusive language to try and make your point? I think that when that’s done, all the person does is destroy their argument, no matter how valid the original point may have been.
I don’t see this happen frequently, but even if it’s n infrequent occurrence, it’s too many times. Lately I’ve been noticing the tu quoque argument. If your Latin is a little rusty, it means basically “They do it as well”. It’s a logical fallacy that no skeptic should ever apply to any argument.
That someone else uses this type of argument should clue you in to one thing: they actually don’t have an argument against the other person. For someone that claims to be a skeptic, it’s unconscionable to use language that attacks appearance, or sexuality, or age, or anything else to win a position.
Argue on the facts. Mock if you must. Using the above tactics doesn’t really raise awareness to others as to the efficacy of your argument. Belittling others belittles yourself. Even though you might have some ally’s that agree with you, I guarantee you that the majority of us do not.
No one Wins the Internet. Ever. It doesn’t matter how many followers a certain Twitter account has or how many people read a blog. When someone’s only response is abusive, they’ve already lost.
Please don’t give me the argument of free speech either. Sure, it’s free speech, but the entire idea of that, in the United States at least, was that those in a public forum would be able to criticize ideas. I don’t think you’ll ever see a politician or journalist using language equivalent to epithets to describe an ideological opponent.
I really enjoy the opportunity to do battle on the Internet. I like to her all opinions and ideas whether they agree with me or not. I especially enjoy hearing from those that disagree. It’s important for me to be able to discuss, without rancor, ideas. As I said above, it doesn’t mean I won’t mock ridiculous statements some people might offer, but I won’t be abusive to them became I really do want to hear from them. They may not like that I mock their ideas, but I won’t lower myself to being abusive to them, even if they start the conversation being abusive to me.
We all have a choice here; We can present reasoned arguments, or we can be abusive to peple we find objectionable. Where do you fit?

One thought on “Civility Isn’t Just a Word

  1. I agree. Criticism is essential, and mockery is acceptable when it can be done without becoming abusive. Once someone resorts to name calling and abusive language, however, it appears that he or she has little to say. I find myself moving on at that point.

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