Mailvox: Maybe on Planet Teletubby

Rhone writes:

FACTS, not personal attacks, should be the basis for any ‘argument’.This is why i objected to Coulter [at the risk of offending Vox regarding one of his personal icons] because she wastes so much time on them…. Pointing out shortcomings in arguments, or going completely overboard like Mogambo Guru did today is one thing: personal attacks for personal attacks sake turns thinking people off.

Right, that’s why Ann Coulter is the most popular, best-known political commentator in the country. That’s why polemicists like Al Franken, who don’t harbor a single original thought and whose works consist of nothing but ad hominem insults and pointing out trivial objections, are best-selling authors. This is what I consider to be the Coulter Myth, which is that Ann would be “more effective” if only she wouldn’t [fill-in-the blank]. And of course, if Ann had been dumb enough to take the advice, no one would ever have heard of her. I will grant you, however, that the unrelenting nature of the single-minded attacks on the same targets can get just a smidgeon tiresome from time to time.

Facts should be the basis for any argument. I try to use them as a basis for mine whenever they are available, with logic as a strong alternative. Ironically, Rhone is stating this in defense of O’Reilly, whose argument can be accurately summed up as the notion that it is the facts that should be off limits in any discussion of Kerry’s military record.

Furthermore, the facts are that people love personal attacks, people love insults, people love cruelty and watching the suffering of others. All humor, it is said, is based on pain. Why do you think women indulge in the emotional pornography of Oprah and Jerry Springer? Why do you think men bet on everything from crickets to pit bulls to human beings tearing each other apart? We love blood sports, intellectual and physical. So much so that the concept of inhuman as the word is commonly used is inherently oxymoronic.

I also reject Rhone’s theory that the purpose of attacking people is to demonstrate my intelligence. I daresay that those esoteric columns that cause a good part of my readership to give up halfway through do a much better job of that, not that it’s the point in either case. The purpose of attacking people is to destroy the credibility of those who repeatedly make false arguments and ludicrous assertions. Some commentators deserve credibility, many, in my opinion, don’t. As to my own credibility, I have no problem leaving that for others to decide.