Vantage point

Friday, April 13, 2012

On Ad Hominem and Relative Morality

A few hours back, @riffraaf whom I follow on twitter and have great regard for, and I had a disagreement over the aftermath of the Rosen-Romney episode. We exchanged a couple of emails. She wrote this post.

This is my response

Very well put. I agree mostly.

Here's where I am coming from: Rosen made a stupid comment. Faux outrage about how Ann Romney is such a victim ensued. (never mind our FLOTUS is bashed in ugly ways every day but that's probably the partisan in me talking, you might say).

Oh, Michelle is definitely bashed in the ugliest ways. It is bizarre to me that someone can make combating obesity into some evil plot!

Some of the people I follow on the right started labeling it as #waronmoms. This was a completely cynical response to left's #waronwomen. Now they wanted to beat the left at their own game. I get it.

Yup, they're just being cynical. But being helped by the left propagating articles like the rude pundit's.

But there was more to #waronwomen (though I personally loathe to use this slogan): Most women I know who are not into partisanship in general (because they're too busy raising kids and handling jobs unlike me :) ) got really riled up with a series of events that hurt women's rights: starting from planned parenthood defunding by Komen to birth control access issues to Sandra fluke (and Rush Limbaugh harassing Fluke for 3 entire days calling her a slut, prostitute, how she should put her porn videos online so he can watch it and so on) to ultra sound bills to new arizona laws infringing rights further.

Agree. That's how my wife (Indian-born American-raised) wife is. She is not as much into politics. She does follow it more than others. She is, like me, a fiscal conservative. But for her, this #waronwomen trumps anything else. Anything related to planned parenthood (which she loves) and birth control gets her riled up. So even if Obama raises taxes by gazillion percent (she hates tax raises even on rich folks), the social aspect of it against women's rights will always make her vote democrat.

So it irritates me to no end that suddenly Risen is somehow equivalent of Limbaugh and all the incivilities shown against women in the last year are equivalent to one insensitive remark made by a Rosen who was a nobody until now (even w/ her hillary support in 2008 and apparently having contributed to Obama campaign in 2008).

I don't think Rosen is equivalent of the much much viler and nastier and just plain-worse-human-being Limbaugh. I am not drawing the equivalence, so I am not going to defend the equivalence.

However, on its own, what Rosen said is definitely insensitive and stupid. And undoubtedly ad hominem. That's all that matters to me, as someone who doesn't count himself on the left or the right when it comes to identifying with movements. By saying what she did, Rosen attacked who Ann Romney, not what Ann or Mitt Romney were saying, making it a classic ad hominem attack.

It's politically damaging I agree. But it's a huge fake outrage and no where near what's really happening to women all over the country (whether w/ healthcare, minimum wages, equal pay, infringing on woman's body, unemployment and so on that affect women in REAL ways).

So I know Obama was doing what any Dem politician would do, but I'm still turned off by this whole latest, what I call Faux outrage.

Granted that some of those outraging are just fake-outraging. Just taking the chance to score points against their political opponents. Granted that many of those outraging on the right have possibly said much worse and more misogynist stuff against women.

But what Rosen said was still stupid and insensitive. And IMO, the Obama campaign by denouncing what Rosen said, is doing not just the politically expedient thing, but the right thing. And elements of the left by digging in and writing posts/articles undermining the worth of Ann Romney's life, are doing the WRONG thing, be it politically or morally.