Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ad Hominem Attacks

In response to a well-written and superbly researched piece regarding taxes, Bryan Fischer and the Idaho Values Alliance, Idaho's conservative blogger Adam Graham took an infuriating position: Instead of asking that the government do something for the people, liberals should show some compassion and start a fund for the Idaho families who have been adversely affected by emergency state budget cuts so the compassionate conservatives who are more "generous" could send a few bucks to the fund.

Oh, it gets better. Adam Graham prefaced his argument with a comment on the source, the Zeb Bell show, where Bryan Fischer was found saying that we would be less opposed to taxing Idahoans, many of whom are struggling in these hard economic times, if the tax money was being funneled to faith-based organizations. Graham's preface:
The Zeb Bell show is listened to actively by Idaho liberals looking to find something to object to. (It’s like Media Matters only less effective, professional, and more pointless.)

Yes, the fact that the MountainGoat Report and this blog care enough about tolerance to monitor the hatred in a community neither of us lives in appears to be reason enough for Graham to question the substance of the material we find there. Perhaps speaking to his good friend Mr. Fischer would clear up any confusion. This wasn't an attempt at paraphrasing nor was it a misunderstanding (as Adam contends was the case with MGR's piece on Fischer and the IVA's position on no-fault divorce), the words came directly from the mouth of Bryan Fischer.

This really isn't about source material, though I do feel bloggers that want to be taken seriously have as much of a responsibility to checking their sources and ensuring their accuracy as mainstream media journalists. This is about reactions.

I have refrained from ad hominem attacks on Idaho bloggers in the past because I don't believe those types of attacks gain me or anyone else any ground. Unless I see a blatant misrepresentation of facts, I will give a blogger the benefit of the doubt on how he or she attained those sources and that the sources are indeed credible.

There are certainly times I'd like to note the absolute fallacy and idiocy in something written by Adam Graham. Take for instance this comment in his fantasy post narrating the 2013 departure from office by President-elect Obama:
I’m not Pat Robertson. My predictions do not come with a divine guarantee, but certain predictions do not require much divine help.

I certainly could have launched into a diatribe about the religious right or whatever they call themselves these days. I could have noted something Robertson said back in 1993 about the liberals doing to the religious right what the Nazis did to the Jews during the Holocaust. Or I'm sure there is a list somewhere of ridiculous things said about New Orleans "deserving" the horror that was and continues to be Katrina. But I didn't.

There are a few bloggers out there that will jump on these comments. They will refer to "Little Adam" and the "Village Idiot" without thinking twice and without much regard for the research or time commitment Mr. Graham must put forth like the rest of us.

However, when Adam Graham starts attacking me, the MountainGoat Report and our collective work, work that has taken a great deal of time and has cost both of us a great deal, the way he has over the recent statements of Bryan Fischer on "Zeb at the Ranch," my policy about ad hominem attacks is brought to the front of my mind and into question.

Mr. Graham needs to remember that we aren't the ones out there asking if he "actually has a solid knowledge of anything," saying that his "intelligence rivals that of a sea sponge," and that he is a liar. We haven't questioned the value or professionalism of his podcasts.

If we're going to start the ad hominem attacks, it might be smart for any conservative blogger to remember that though the right has won talk radio, sadly as is the case of the damaging and despicable Zeb Bell, the left has won the internet.

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