How to Address Hate Speech and Ad Hominem

The issue of hate speech against Patch bloggers. How do we address it?

As I am reading many of the responses on the Patch to bloggers, I have seen a pattern that is somewhat disturbing. In an age of communicating and sparring between conservatives and liberals, we see the use of dirty accusational words, dismissive statements and many other unjustified claims.

For example, the claim that we shouldn't listen to those radical liberals in Madison is a claim that they are simply not worth listening to because they are radical. Their radicalism isn't really proven through some sort of justification. It's a fallacy called loaded words, which is a form of unjustified criticism.

Let's say a conservative is talking about a liberal minority group that has made discriminatory slurs against white people. The conservative makes no racist comments but keeps their conservative view. Some people will turn around and say to the conservative that the comments they are making are nothing more than racist and stupid. This fallacy is known as ad hominem (against the person). It "consists in rejecting a claim or an argument by offering as grounds some personal characteristic of the person supporting it." (Munson and Black)

My question is how to address such issues on the Patch and whether or not we should point them out in order to shut these people down. I understand that hate speech is allowed under the first amendment to certain conditions that are defined by the government; however, as a social people, perhaps we should monitor ourselves a little more in order to reduce the need to use up the government's money, because of our ignorance. Or is it the case that we should allow the government to stop us and allow us to push the limits of hate speech so that we can focus on other issues more important to our personal interests.

I'm curious to hear what you all have to say.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Bren August 15, 2012 at 04:52 PM
The fundamental difference between established media reporting and citizen journalism (blogging, etc.) is that citizens do not have access to many of the protections afforded professional reporters.
Andrew Ruble August 15, 2012 at 08:08 PM
So what you're saying is that we should lower our standards of respect and treat each other in less humane ways for our own personal amusement? I am not suggesting government control as much as putting each other to task for what we say. Insults show a lack of humanity and a form of ignorance due to a lack of having anything intelligent to say. I back this up by asking, do insults really add to our knowledge or does it break down our ability to communicate meaningfully?
Mark Maley August 15, 2012 at 08:12 PM
I have removed several comments that are clearly personal attacks.....Let's stick to the issues, folks, and have a healthy but spirited debate! Mark Maley - Patch Regional Editor
Andrew Ruble August 15, 2012 at 08:12 PM
@ Keith, although this would be a solution, I have to agree with the others that it is not an option. Facebook would need to drastically improve their security for all of us to consider that option. Furthermore, liberals can be pretty nasty as well. Cleaning up the sewers shouldn't be conjoined with a political stance in this case.
CowDung August 15, 2012 at 08:15 PM
As an example of how the 'Facebook' solution will not work to bring things 'out of the sewer', take a look at the stuff the Keith Schmitz routinely posts under his true name and picture.
Andrew Ruble August 15, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Steve, have you ever heard of the Pooh-Pooh fallacy? It's an argument used to dismiss another claim with ridicule as not worthy of serious consideration. It's a refusal to examine an argument seriously and evaluate it fairly. "As such the fallacy is an attempt to obtain by guile what should be earned by work. It is a case of misdirection" (Munson & Black).
Keith Schmitz August 15, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Many sites use Facebook for comments to prevent the kinds of out of control nonsense we get from the right wing. My my dung, we are a sensitive little flower aren't we. Pretty much 90% of the activity on this blog is from sullen, angry, out of control conservatives, especially in Shorewood where the righties feel marginalized. Just love it how you all whine when you get called out by an aggressive liberal.
CowDung August 15, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Keith: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Feel free to point out where I have been insulting, rude, sullen, angry, or out of control, Keith. I missed the part where you called me out as well...
Andrew Ruble August 15, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Keith, i do not see any statistics here other than a possible guess that you would like to be in your favor. I want to know why liberals and conservatives are not both at fault for such aggressive fallacies as ad hominem. Ad hominem removes any validity from an argument. I am not saying you are committing one here; however, I think you are making a hasty generalization against those who disagree with you.
Greg August 15, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Shades of gray. I don't think Mister Spock was a great communicator and I think he would have said our human behavior is highly illogical. We are, after all, human. I only know of one Vulcan that posts on Patch and he is only a political Vulcan, so he still has human flaws. Even the great Nobel Peace Prize recipients amongst us, tend to be easy with the insults. I guess it really comes down to the timeless words of Roseanne Roseannadanna "Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it's always something--if it ain't one thing, it's another." And life goes on.
Bob McBride August 15, 2012 at 08:47 PM
CD, Keith's just lashing out due to some internal conflict he's experiencing over a victory that resulted from a voting pattern not unlike that found in the deep south in the late '60s. He'll settle down eventually.
Greg August 15, 2012 at 08:55 PM
"If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it, to whom does the gift belong?"
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) August 16, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Accessing this awesome site through a facebook account is worthless if you want to eliminate anonymity because I have 3 fake accounts with that to go along with my 3 on here.
Lyle Ruble August 16, 2012 at 01:20 PM
@Nuitari...Why do you need so many fake accounts? What are you hiding?
Keith Schmitz August 16, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Deep south? You are an amusing doofus Bob.
Keith Schmitz August 16, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Nut's multiple accounts reflect his black copter paranoia, and lack of guts.
Bob McBride August 16, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Keith, eventually you're going to have to own it rather than lashing out in all directions. I know it stings, particularly since one of your favorite past times here is race baiting. Numbers don't lie and, try as you might, you can't spin them in any fashion that makes Shorewood look good. The chickens have come home to roost.
Luke August 16, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Keith hasn't accused anyone of being a racist for 30 minutes. A new record!
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) August 16, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I have all these aliases so I can F with you liberals and not fear you picketing my home, harassing my family or possibly murdering me. DUH
CowDung August 16, 2012 at 02:52 PM
If someone has murdered you, I can see why you'd need an alias...
Jay Sykes August 16, 2012 at 03:40 PM
If all that cumulative Shorewood brain power,located in just that one tiny tiny square mile(bubble), gets together they can figure out how to spin, er, rationalize, ummmm... explain that election.
Brian Carlson August 17, 2012 at 12:33 AM
I am really tired of being attacked by people with masks on. Moreover, I have suggested in blogs that people not say anything they would not say over a table in a coffee shop to the other party.... to remember, in other words, that they are actually addressing a human being, not an abstraction.
Brian Carlson August 17, 2012 at 12:39 AM
I would like to come out here and say that I am at least eight of these respondents.... aside from Brian Carlson. I have multiple personality disorder and love to argue with my selves. Insulting my selves rolls off my back. Seriously...the fact that not only are many of you masked men or ladies... but that some of you wear multiple masks.. makes spending effort on serious dialogue with respondents seem like a waste of time. If it wasnt enough to kick me into flashbacks of the junior high school yard reading a lot of this stuff.... to realize that there is this joke factor with people masquerading as several people... really diminishes the potential value.
Lyle Ruble August 17, 2012 at 01:24 AM
@Brian Carlson...This is a constant problem. There are certain participants who troll under a variety of identities just to trash others. It seems to me that the worst offenders have been those on the extreme right. I can't say for certain but I notice some with the same writing style and vocabulary under different handles. My approach is to stay on message as much as possible and ignore those who are particularly offensive.
Jay Sykes August 17, 2012 at 02:14 AM
I hope you just scramble the letters in your name, so that we will always know that it is indeed you, Brian. Or, would that be Brain Noslrac. Maybe you could write a book: 'The Eight Faces of Brain Noslrac'. It took me a while to ignore the background noise, but like Lyle said 'stay on message'. Your life experiences and perspective comes through quite well in your writing. Unfortunately, some here don't understand that one can learn more from those that see life through a lens different than our own. I'd add, smile and keep a great sense of humor about.
Jay Sekys August 17, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Randy1949 August 17, 2012 at 04:23 PM
"I hope you just scramble the letters in your name, so that we will always know that it is indeed you, Brian." Splendid idea! ~signed Danry1499
Ima Hippee August 18, 2012 at 03:58 PM
This is a constant problem. There are certain participants who troll under a variety of identities just to trash others. It seems to me that the worst offenders have been those on the extreme left. I can't say for certain but I notice some with the same writing style and vocabulary under different handles. My approach is to stay on message as much as possible, denigrate, bully and antagonize those who are particularly weak.
Randy1949 August 18, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Same writing style? You mean that some of us on the Left can spell, use punctuation, and employ big words? And, pray, what is your definition of weak?
Andrew Ruble August 20, 2012 at 02:10 AM
I think regardless of which side these are coming from. Be it right or left, that point is entirely mute. use of name calling and insults only serves to detract from the importance of an argument (red herring). There are brilliant people on both sides of the field; however, people seem to lose sight of the fact that other opinions can still be considered as feasible albeit not what we necessarily want.


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