Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Is Name Calling Really Wrong?

Among the religious academics, you will get scorned for saying that someone is an idiot (even if it's the truth), or they are a "troll" (meaning they are picking a fight on a forum just to stir things up). Name calling is looked down upon as fighting dirty, and is considered a recourse only for those who are ignorant. The "true intellectuals" are supposed to be above all that nonsense. The term "ad hominem" is loosely tossed about, partly because anything Latin makes you sound smart, and partly because people think that name calling falls into this category of fallacies. I would like to challenge that thought.

First of all, the definition for an Ad Hominem attack is as follows:

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the man", "argument against the man") consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

You can see that using an ad hominem argument would be like saying, "You're wrong and I know this because you are an idiot!" or "...because you are fat!" There is no logic behind this, therefore it's an ad hominem (an attack against the person). To simply call someone an idiot is not an ad hominem attack, because you are not making an argument. You are making an observation. There is nothing low, ignorant, or dirty about speaking the truth. Hey, there are a lot of idiots on the internet and the truth hurts!

Secondly, Jesus called names:

[7] But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

[34] O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

[33] Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

[7] Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Now I'm sure in the NASB, NIV, and NKJV He says, "Oh you bunch of silly men!" or something limp-wristed along those lines, but in the Bible, we can see that He ripped them up. If it's okay for Jesus to do, it's okay for me. The next time I call someone an idiot and they accuse me of using an ad hominem fallacy, I'm going to point them to the King James Bible and the above verses for my proof text.


Anonymous said...

He was not calling a name he was making a comparison, calling them low.

The Bible has strong words against those that call names.

Matthew 5:22 (King James Version)
King James Version (KJV)

22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

49erDweet said...

YF, If one uses the most common definitions found on-line the use of the word "idiot" in this post - while possibly reflecting your own POV - is very likely inaccurate and most definitely off-putting. The ones you refer to may - in your opinion - have been acting "idiotic", but by definition they are very likely not "idiots" in the true sense of the word. I think upon reflection you will see this point.

At this point you may wish to google the word to confirm.

If you were a young leader in my church, in my role as an elder I would caution you thusly: If you wish to be effective for Christ you must learn to speak in a way that is plain, caring and persuasive. Your post only passes the first test. The other two are missed by a mile.

I encourage you to continue speaking out for Him and His kingdom, but pray it can accomplished more effectively than this.

God bless you.

Bro. Nick Nicholas said...

My understanding of Holy Scripture is that those who are warning other CHRISTian Brethren about persons and/or ministries that are not true Biblically - whether they be major doctrinal damaging errors, Heresy or Blasphemy should be named - but not a plain and clear way. As a layman, it is of little or no use to hear someone write or say (as an example): 'I know of a ministry - which I shall not name - that is teaching that it is Biblical to fellowship with Mohammadens because they worship one god like we do.' - which is Heresy!
The Apostle Paul specifically stated who and what: "Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words." 2 Tim 4:14

We should follow the Biblical example - especially in these extremely evil and Apostate times in which we are now living in "Amerika" - and many other 'civilized countries' around the world.

Bro. Nick Nicholas said...

OOps - the third line should read:

"but in a plain and clear way"

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