"The Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence." -- Ayn Rand
Intellectual impotence is a dysfunction suffered by many these days. But truth be told, the most affected ones are the leftists and the pro-Palestinian activists.
The Art of Argumentation is beautiful and it requires not only discipline (and self-control) but mainly knowledge – you have to possess enough information (on history, law and current political issues, for instance) otherwise failure is guaranteed. Being proficient in the Art of arguing also implies identifying the snake oil salesman (i.e. that individual who seems intelligent and talks fast to intimidate, conceal his insecurities and his lack of information – i.e. facts).
What is the argument from intimidation that Ayn Rand spoke of? It is “a means of forestalling debate and extorting an opponent’s agreement with one’s undiscussed notions. It is a method of bypassing logic by means of psychological pressure . . . [It] consists of threatening to impeach an opponent’s character by means of his argument, thus impeaching the argument without debate.” (in Argument from Intimidation, Lexicon)
Surely, those who are politically active – online and offline – recognise this type of argument. I know I do and that is why, this week, I will share the best examples of argument from intimidation that my team has come across in 2014:
Hayley Nagelberg (17 years, from New Jersey): “But by the time it was known that it was four Israelis and two Palestinians, it was known that there were meat cleavers and stabbings involved. Why couldn’t you call it an ‘attack’?”
Richard Davis (the Executive VP of News Standards and Practices for CNN): “You’ve got to be kidding me? One word? Are you brain dead?” (source here)
Mr Davis attempted to intimidate an intelligent teenager by using a tone of “scornful or belligerent incredulity.” - Dick Davis publicly confessed he is an intellectual impotent.
An exchange on Twitter (here):
Max Coutinho: Get your facts straight [concerning the history of Israel] and then get back to me
Sumol67: only if you live in an alternative Universe!
Max Coutinho: ah, so you don't have the facts! If you need help let me know. I don't fall 4 leftist propaganda; I know how to seek info by myself.
Sumol67: Max am actually quite on the "right" as for "facts" we all have them, knowing history/situation something else!
Max Coutinho: (..) Facts, in this case, = history. And Hx is truth: Palestine is National Homeland of Jews.
OccPal-Gaza: And the stipulations of that were the indegenous[sic] pop would be allowed right. See Mandate Art's 9 & 15
Max Coutinho: not indigenous pop, but pop of different religions. Read it again.
OccPal-Gaza: Ah, you think Jews can be indigenous but Palestinians can't. Bigotry much?
Max Coutinho: (..) So, I'm a bigot cause I disagree?
Sumol67: No Max cos you contradict yrself on my political leanings & no need to be personal. I hvnt w u.
Max Coutinho: political leanings do not impede one from thinking. And personal? I don't know you, so nothing personal here.
Sumol67: And that's here your messages contradict themselves. No prob. take care.
(another example of Twitter Intellectual-dysfunction Here)
Again, in the above exchange of words, a tone of scorn, belligerence and pretentious superiority was applied in a poor attempt to intimidate and discredit me; but when challenged my interlocutors had no arguments “no reasons, no ground to stand on” and therefore “their noisy aggressiveness served to hide a vacuum—that the Argument from Intimidation is a confession of intellectual impotence.” (idem)
The intellectual impotent individuals in the above threads made sure they'd use words like “white supremacists”, “retarded” and “censorship” obeying, thus, to the pattern of argument from intimidation where they try to portrait their target as morally unworthy – to impeach the adversary's character.
I could go on and on with the examples, however I believe my dear readers got the general picture. Regardless of the theme, when discussing with leftists (and some right wingers) it's easy to identify the pattern employed against their opponents - “Only those who are evil (dishonest, heartless, insensitive, ignorant, etc.) can hold such an idea.”(idem)
2014 was a very busy year for us: we covered a wide range of issues, we welcomed a new dissector (Stephen Cheney) and started a new segment (the Club of Shadows). Dissecting Society would like to thank our amazing Honorary Dissectors: your comments enrich our pieces.
May 2015 be even more interesting.
Happy New Year!
(Image: Ayn Rand, Wikipedia)