When you have to fend off clowns, don’t stoop to their level. Attack them en passant.
An argumentum ad hominem is a cheap way of scoring a point. We should nonetheless prepare for a mud-sling, particularly when the other person wants to compensate incompetence with feistiness. When this happens, referring to the other person an “imbecile” sounds more eloquent than calling them an “asshole”. Yet, they can use your insults against you. We hence have to do better with a praeterito.
How to attack in a noble manner
Write down five ways to swear at your opponent plus a short explanation for each.
(e.g. He sounds like a Nazi because of his instigating, xenophobic rhetoric.)
Option A: Pick a person other than you who (could have) reviled him for it.
(e.g. When I canvassed yesterday in our capital, a woman told me she would vote for me because she thinks you are a Nazi who has to be stopped.)
Option B: Negate the insult but still use the same words. It will still evoke the same frames in the minds of the audience.
(e.g. I would not go so far calling you a Nazi but I believe we can all agree that we have seen speeches that were less racist and extreme.)
The Queen of England’s first prime minister was Winston Churchill. The next one will soon emerge in the battle for number 10. The UK government has sent out a Mayday and needs a new leader. 10 conservative candidates have joined; five stayed in the game after the third ballot. Write down three noble attacks on the bookmakers’ favourite, Boris Johnson.
Learn the techniques. Boost your confidence. Make your point.
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