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DominicX's avatar

Do you use off-topic (ad hominem) insults when you're mad at someone?

Asked by DominicX (28762points) August 23rd, 2009

As in, you’re arguing with someone who’s overweight about politics. They start to make you angry after a while and then you begin insulting their weight. Do you find that you sometimes hit below the belt like that?

Do you think it’s something we all do or are there people who just don’t do it? Do you really try not to or do you not care?

I’m guilty of it in the past but I really try not to do that. The “bigger person” doesn’t do stuff like that. It only makes you look bad and seems to show a weakness in your ability to carry about a civil discussion or argument.

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16 Answers

Tink's avatar

First of all, LOL!! At your description!
Well, I’m sure I’ve done it before, but not about the overweight thing, I just insult them with a “dirty little
secret” that I know of them. And if I don’t know any, I just cuss. Lots of fucks and hope you go to hell flying around.

DominicX's avatar


Oh yeah, I swear like a sailor when I’m angry, but I really try to avoid the attacks that have nothing to do with the conversation. If someone I’m talking to is being insecure or self-righteous or something and I point that out, I think of that as being a little different than talking about the way they look or something, which has nothing to do with anything.

You know something? I think I asked a similar question on my old account. Oh well. That old account is DEAD I tell you. Dead. :)

avengerscion's avatar

Yes – when I was younger and less educated, I would pick at other people’s fauls that were irrelivant to the conversation. Now that I am older, I realize that these things have nothing to do with the topic. It’s simply not acceptable.

Tink's avatar

@DominicX Is that part of the ad hominem? ;)

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I can’t remember the last time I had to be honest. I don’t know, I never really had to try not to, those types of things just never really crossed my mind… which is surprising never really thought about it because I’m kind of an asshole.

wildpotato's avatar

I did once and I felt really bad afterwards. I was having an awful day and getting my dinner shopping done. This guy was holding a freezer door open, peering into it like it had a TV somewhere in there, in the middle of a narrow aisle. I squeeze past him without saying anything. He turns and says “Excuse you.” Not in the mood, I decide to run with the impulse and shoot back a “Fuck you, buddy.” Now, this is in the Bronx, so it becomes a scene of this guy following me around insulting me, me talking to my bf, saying can you believe this guy, and insulting him. It was kind of cool – I like to get my ire up sometimes, and enjoy it when people don’t get scared and actually do yell back at me. But eventually I stopped enjoying the fight and got mean, and insulted his (surgically repaired) cleft palate, saying something about how insecure he must be because of his harelip and how this whole spat must really be making him feel like a big man. He went quiet and got this hurt look, and that was the end of that. I shouldn’t have said anything about his cleft palate.

It’s something that both my bf and I had to work on back when we used to have fights – not bringing up stuff the other person did in the past that was hurtful, but is not pertinent to the argument at hand. The temptation to wring everything out all at once is easy to give in to.

I think it’s something common to most if not all humans. One of those impulses we all have to fight, I guess.

Facade's avatar

I can usually find a way to insult the person while staying on topic.

dalepetrie's avatar

If and only if I disagree with someone, AND I think they’re not actually debating or thinking, but are building straw men, or repeating talking points or generally basing their proofs on faulty assumptions, I really really try to insult them on topic. I try to point out holes in their reasoning (or utter lack of reasoning altogether), and try to be clever by using analogies to things that are both similar to their line of reasoning and universally ridiculed. Essentially I try to make them look stupid, without actually CALLING them stupid. And this works well, about 95% turn tail and run and the other 5% get really pissed, and often resort to these attacks, which I then request removal and allow their displayed vitriol to lose the argument for them. Have I gone too far sometimes in implying something, so I stepped over the line and essentially attacked someone…yep…it happens, but it’s not intentional. It’s often something subtle like if instead of saying, “anyone with two brain cells to rub together would realize that…” but instead I say, “if you had two brain cells to rub together, you would realize…” The former is more general, less of an outright attack and can usually be seen as permissible, while the later is a statement disparaging the other person and is therefore out of bounds. And yes, I’m more prone to accidentally doing the later if I am really pissed. But usually I don’t stoop to, “oh yeah, well you’re a stupid whore” type attacks. I try to find a way to imply that the person is a stupid whore without actually saying it.

FrancisRude's avatar

I have not. However, some people do that if the argument gets really heated. Anyway, I try not to insult their character, actions or anything like that. As a part of good argumentation, and being civil as well,

Maybe if they are somehow my friends, and we know that were goofing around then it’s acceptable, but with others I don’t.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I don’t. Nothing is worth the stress of arguing. If they don’t get it, I figure it is their loss. Poor saps.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

No. Why should I do that? It’s irrelevant to the topic at hand and, as you’ve said, is immature (although I’m not saying that I’m mature, nuh-uh. Still got a long way to go.).

deni's avatar

I would say 99% of the time, I don’t. But I think sometimes I might without realizing it, but only to someone I’m really close to. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever done that to anyone but my ex boyfriend. Then of course afterwards I felt bad about it so I try to avoid that situation.

Quagmire's avatar

It is such a SUPER juvenile way to argue, and a sure fire sign that you’ve got “nothing” left, so do NOT do it.

If you did it in an argument with me, I would think I won. Is THAT what you want?

wundayatta's avatar

I was taught in high school about the value (or lack thereof) of ad hominem arguments. I think it’s sufficient to be able to recognize when someone is doing it and call them on it. It usually means they can’t argue on the basis of facts or logic. It means they aren’t serious about discussion or learning anything. It means that ideology drives them irrespective of the facts.

So, no. I rarely do it. Sometimes when I’m really angry and think that someone is being deliberately obtuse or arguing in bad faith, I might tell them what I think of their personality, as evidenced by their tactics.

Zuma's avatar

I try not to, but then I have amazing powers of rationalization and I may have justified it after the fact and forgotten about it.

I do recall one conversation where I was arguing with this guy about gay marriage and he was just repeating the same assertions over and over, going round in circles, begging the question, bringing up irrelevancies.

(Daloon was there, remember Sgt D? it was one of the longest discussions ever on Askville)

Anyway, I eventually declared the guy an ignorant bigot and homophobe, who had no rational argument and did not deserve to be listened to. We had already been arguing for about 6 weeks and we argued 2 more about whether he really was a homophobe before we were finally done.

Disc2021's avatar

No. If I’m wrong or offended – I usually try to voice that or walk away from the argument. Most people use ad hominems when they realize their argument is weakening – and if the person you’re using them against is not only aware of this and able to detect ad hominems efficiently – they’ll usually put you in an even weaker position and make an even bigger child out of you.

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