Tag Archives: ad hominem arguments

This is not Tu Quoque, it is not, it is not

10 Mar

The ad hominem argument known as “tu qouque” or “you too” goes like this:

She cannot sue me for libel because she was just successfully sued for libel.

It’s clear this is fallacious: the fact that she has been found guilty of libel doesn’t mean she can’t claim she’s also been libeled. While we can exclaim at the hypocrisy we may see in such a situation, hypocrisy in no way negates claims that are deserving of attention whether she has committed the same offense or not.

My post of January 10 that caused Melinda Tankard Reist to threaten defamation action has understandably been subjected to a great deal of scrutiny and commentary. A consistent criticism is that I didn’t have the “facts” on which I based my allegations about Reist’s religious influences, that I made knowledge claims without the knowledge. I’ve pointed out that I used information available uncontested in the public domain for a long time, that I watched and read interviews with Reist by journalists, and that I have sources dating back to 2006 questioning Reist’s religious motivations.

For some two years now, I’ve been contesting what I consider outrageous claims made by Reist (and others, but so far nobody else has threatened to sue me), and outrageous attacks on public figures that are supported by nothing other than Reist’s opinion. Why nobody has threatened her with defamation action I don’t know. I do know from correspondence with some of these people that they’ve considered, and in a couple of cases are still considering taking action against her. The cost of such action is a major obstacle for many who might otherwise resort to it, however this does not seem to be a consideration for Tankard Reist.

What’s remarkable is that those who have developed an intense interest in my post of January 10 have shown absolutely no interest at all in the injustices perpetrated by Reist in her savage personal attacks on men and women whose lifestyles and opinions she does not care for.

For example, this crusade against a singer whose song she finds objectionable doesn’t stop with him: Reist attacks his girlfriend for failing to prevent him writing it. This is what I wrote at the time:

MTR also holds Delta Goodrem partially responsible. Why didn’t Delta check the lyrics before allowing Brian to record them, she asks. Is Delta so inured to sexual violence that she didn’t even notice what Brian was on about?

This would be unfortunate, MTR suggests, as Delta is a spokeswoman for Avon Voices, a group that raises awareness of violence against women.

I guess the sexual conservatives also hold women responsible for what the men they live with do.

Personally, I think that’s a pretty low and unnecessarily malicious swipe.

Indeed on ABC’s The Drum the article title is: “New song from Delta’s man feeds rape myth.” Delta’s man?

Then we have this attack on Tasmanian DPP Tim Ellis. Reist continued to post this article on her website when other sites such as On Line Opinion took it down, after being advised by the DPP that it contained references to a case currently underway, and risked incurring charges of contempt. The article and Reist’s commentary make no reference to the extraordinary decision by the DPP to publish his reasons for not proceeding with prosecutions in the Hobart Mercury. They simply attack him personally and professionally.

Then we have this gem, Reist’s interpretation of a video she doesn’t like:

Women are slaves and bitches who can service a man’s sexual needs, even in death. Men are brutal and dominant, and have no empathy for women. Men enjoy dead women as sex and entertainment. The female body is to be devoured, reduced to the same status as meat. Female bodies should be displayed before men as a great feast for their consumption.

Beside which my allegedly lurid interpretation of the virgin birth looks quite inadequate.

Then we have this vicious tirade, directed against Shaune Metcalf seven, yes seven years after he committed an appalling crime, had been found guilty, and punished. Reist also attacks a defense of Metcalfe by Celia Lashlie. I’ll post in full the observations of commenter Bruce Thombo Jefferson on Reist’s article, because it’s worth it:

Bruce Thombo Jefferson :

15 Apr 2011 12:43:05pm

I think the point of this article as I read it is that Ms Tankard Reist feels betrayed because Ms Lashlie has allowed a balanced and educated approach to dealing with a criminal who commissioned a crime when he was a 16 year old several years ago. My guess is the actual assault is a secondary matter being used a vehicle by Ms Tankard Reist to go to war with those ostensibly of her faction that do not tow her party line. 

The theme seems to be the righteousness of her anger and her right to indulge it freely when that sort of approach is being questioned by Ms Lashlie. It appears, from the little I have managed to find out, that Ms Lashlie is a person who worked with male prisoners as a warden in the NZ system and she seems to dedicate herself to the notion of rehabilitation and the possibility of positive outcomes. Ms Tankard Reist seems to enjoy more punitive approach. 

Now the punishment after the fact orientated sort of republican Southern Baptist style of rhetoric so fashionable in the USA is a good vote catcher over there but we have to ask ourselves if it is really effective in making a better society? Clearly they have been a total failure in lowering the number of abortions, one of Ms Tankard Reists pet projects, sex crimes or even teenage pregnancy. The reason for this is that is outed by Ms Tankard Reist herself. The object is not rehabilitation , its not prevention, it is the revelling in the feeling of righteous anger and self justification. 

Is this type of self indulgence worth supporting? I would argue not. These people may like to keep their kids as their play dolls by hiding any hint of human sexuality from them They may resurrect the lynch mobs of the fifties but they can even establish repressive, even in extreme cases genocidal regimes lasting decades but they wont actually achieve a better society.

Ms Lashlie appears to represent the other side. One is reminded of Victor Frankl who after years of incarceration in German Concentration camps felt it was his duty upon release to work with ex guards and other Nazis to help them come to terms with what they had done and move on. I always like the notion that the aim of life was to heal a fractured world rather than drive a wedge deeper in but that’s just me.

I notice that most of Ms Tankard Reists supporter entourage here are concentrating on the side issue of the horror of the crime rather than on Ms Tankard Reists theme of her right to tantrum. Perhaps that is because even to them its hard to see the point of it. 

I would argue that all round Ms Lashlie’s constructive engagement approach is better because it will lead to a better outcome for all parties, the ruby player , the mother and the child than Ms Tankards Reist’s approach which will lead to third parties having an indulgent anger fests but nothing else really.

It really is most interesting that my January 10 post should attract such attention when articles such as Reist’s (and there are many, many more that I haven’t noted) go entirely unremarked by my critics.  If one is honest about striving for a media in which knowledge claims are supported by knowledge, and in which people are not singled out for unfair criticism, the work of a writer such as Tankard Reist is a good place to start your critique and offers far more examples of what offends than does my insignificant post.

Which is not to claim that I should be left uncritiqued, or that Reist’s complaints and threats are invalid because she has also committed offenses. This is not tu quoque, it is not, it is not.

More like a question of balance.

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