In the comment thread to one of my recent posts on Palin Derangement Syndrome, a number of readers either took our defenders to task for appropriate language or faulted me for not calling them on it.
I answered those criticizing me briefly, “those who use this forum to take issue with my critics in terms I would rather they not use do not speak for me.” Indeed, I believe the ad hominem nature of some responses to our critics weakens their (otherwise sound) arguments, and have told our defenders as much in private e-mails, personal conversations and on this blog, writing here and here:
All too often alas, those who chime in to defend Bruce or me compromise some very strong comments when they resort to ad hominem, using the term “libtard’ or some such. In many cases, if they took the insult out of the comment, they’d have won the argument anyway. That need to get in that additional dig, while emotional satisfying, compromises their entire argument and gives our critics ammunition to attack them.
“Friends,” I once remarked, “you make a better case when you leave out the ad hominem.” While many have used the forum we provide to conduct serious discussions of the issue of the day, most recently in my post on Anthony Weiner and marriage, all too often the tone of the comments drives away some of our critics — as well as some of our ideological confrères.
It pained me recently when a moderately left-of-center classmate from college e-mailed me about how the discussion quickly degenerated. And this from a reader who took pains to register his criticism of my posts in a most civil manner, respecting as he did, both my intellect and intentions. Would it that some of our defenders had showed a similar respect for him.
And for all our critics who chime in in a tone similar to that he adopted. And that our critics show the same respect for us and those who defend us in a civil manner.