Reasoning fallaciously is like lying–it’s not wrong if *you* do it. On that topic, I stumbled across this from the blogosphere:
>Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. [Sigmund Freud – unsubstantiated attribution]
>Then I get this email telling me that when I apply the epithet “idiots” to those with whom I disagree, I am guilty of using the logical phallacy, oops, Freudian slip, I mean using the logical fallacy of “Ad Hominem”. Instead of attacking the arguments and premises of my opponent, I attack on the basis of some irrelevant fact, like his intelligence.
>So I ask my dear readers, what do you make of this? [with a tip of the turban Hat Tip to GOP and College]
[missing here is a picture of a protester with a sign that reads: “If Hezbollah hides among civilians, the IDF has no choice– It must hold fire”]
>liberal idiot moron imbecile
>For the life of me, I tried to think of the correct appellative to apply to this leftwing nutjob and after hours of excruciating and rigorous exercise of my little grey cells I could not come up with anything more accurate, more descriptive, more truthful than Liberal Idiot. And although, in the main, it is a shabby argument to use, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and a liberal is just an idiot.
>Anyone else out there want to give it a try?
The reason–yes there is a reason–you’re guilty of this fallacy is this. If the fellow with the poster makes *an assertion* you consider idiotic, then it’s (a) up to *you* to show the assertion is idiotic and (b) conclude as a result that the person making the assertion is an idiot. (a) is easy. You only need an argument. (b) is harder, because idiots say smart things all of the time, and smart people say idiotic things even more often. So the idiocy of the sign-holder, you see, is irrelevant to the idiocy of the sign, unless you show, as you probably could, that they’re linked.
So, just because you can’t think of of an argument against a sign-holding protester (a pointless endeavor in our estimation–argue against people with arguments for Chrissake–doesn’t excuse you from the basic rules of rational discourse.