Muddying the Water

When people think of “arguments,” often their first thought is of shouting matches riddled with personal attacks, at least that’s what you think if you’ve spent any amount of time listening to Tony Ortega. It’s a little ironic, since personal attacks run contrary to rational arguments.

In logic and rhetoric, a personal attack of the sort Tony routinely deals in is called an ad hominem, a phrase which comes from Latin and literally means “against the man.” Read anything Tony Ortega has written about Scientology (or more recently the Jehovah Witnesses, or really anyone Tony has labeled as his enemy on that particular day) and odds are what you are reading is an ad hominem attack.

Instead of advancing good sound reasoning, Tony Ortega’s tired ad hominem ‘arguments’ replace sound logical argumentation with attack-language unrelated to the truth of the matter. At this stage of Tony’s depressing career, it’s about the only arrow he has left in the quiver.

More specifically, the type of ad hominem Tony Ortega trades in is what those familiar with journalistic rhetoric understand to be ‘a fallacy of relevance’, where someone rejects or criticizes another person’s view on the basis of personal characteristics, background, physical appearance, religious convictions or other features irrelevant to the argument at issue.

But Tony Ortega’s ad hominem attacks are more than just mere insult. They are insults he uses as if it were an argument or evidence in support of his pre-imagined conclusion. Sadly, internet trolls like Tony Ortega seem not to have learned that attacking people proves nothing about the truth or falsity of their claims. It’s nothing more than a cowardly act of bullying.

Tony believes, falsely, that his ‘insults’ carry some weight or force of argument. They do not. All they do is demonstrate his own bigoted point of view.

Maybe it makes him feel tough to play the bully online, attacking minority religions and the rank and file faithful who have devoted their lives to them. Maybe it’s a way to make himself feel like less of a failure to point out what he perceives as failure in others. Maybe he’s just an angry, old crackpot with nothing better to do, facing the prospect of yet another year of unemployment as he continues to sponge of his wife and her rich Israeli parents.

There’s a reason Tony Ortega’s preferred method of discourse is ad hominem. In politics this practice is commonly known as “mudslinging.” And if you’re Tony Ortega, without the benefit of having anything of substance to say, all you can do is muddy the water.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.