Andrea Smith wrote:
> While I am not able to provide a list on appropriate topics, I can only offer
> that, in my experience, list etiquette suggests that filling up other
> subscribers' inboxes with a flurry of posts whose text contains snarky ad
> hominem attacks should be kept to a minimum.
I think it worthwhile to maintain a sharp distinction between "ad
hominem" attacks and _personal_ attacks. Let me illustrate.
Q claims P
Q is a jerk.
Therefore P is false.
Note: this _includes_ personal attack (Q is a jerk), but what makes it
an ad hominem argument is that the attack on thed person is used to
discredit the proposition. This is ALWAYS wrong, because true
propositions can be maintained by shitheads without ubtruing the
Q claims P.
P is a false and vicious proposition.
Therefore Q is a jerk.
This is not an adhominem attack because P is judged false and vicious
_independently_ of the personality of the person asserting it.
For example, suppose P was "Having Niggers in the school makes it unfit
for decent pupils" or "Any wife who objects to her husband beating her
is a slut." One does not have to say anything about a person to
establish that these are vicious and false propositions. AND, MOREOVER,
it is perfectly proper to launch a personal attack on anyone who upholds
either proposition. He/she is a jerk.
Note, moreover, that a person upholding either of these propositions
might, in other contexts, be a very nice person. I say in this as a
context for what follows.
As several posters have pointed out, denial of the viral cause of AIDS
kills people. Hence anyone who actively spreads denialist propositions
is aiding and abetting the slaughter of large numbers of people.
Now I agree that on an unmoderated list such as this the best policy is
simply to delete such posts without replying. (Best to filter the poster
to Trash so you will never even know the post is sent.) But if one
_does_ respond to such a post, it does not seem in the least rude to me
to add to one's argument a personal attack on somone who is aiding and
abetting mass death (however sincere and well intentioned that person
might be, or however much good he may do in other contexts.)