I had been to a marriage recently where we were part of grooms side and bride’s side was attempting to win Jhoota chupai. Jhoota chupai is a game of hiding the groom’s shoes. Bride’s sisters and cousins try to hide the shoes of the groom which he has to remove while entering the mandap(sort of stage) for the ceremony. Groom has to pay a ransom to get it back after the marriage is over. We could successfully save the shoes and the bride’s cousins were after us to get it back. In the heights of despair, she started abusing us to provoke us and get the shoes. We remained cool and our groom’s side won the game.
Yes, abuse is a weapon used by the weak, when they are desperate to win a fight, but unfortunately have no chance to win as all the odds are against them, be it a game or a political debate. In a debate, if you are no more having the valid points to argue, you will resort to abuse, knowingly or unknowingly. You want to provoke the opponent and deviate him from the topic of debate to move on to the abuse and counter-abuse.
I have had made posts on controversial topics in social media. I try to be as objective as possible with my posts. I try to judge issues impartially(as much as my value premises allow me to) and take a stand. Some people because of their obvious dislike to my final standpoint starts arguing with me and sooner or later looks at my profile, identify me by my Muslim name, and resorts to abuse religion called Islam or start to abuse me personally. It may be low-level provocation like calling me an idiot (which I can’t complain because I have never tried to measure my intelligence and I am not sure that I am not an idiot) to calling me terrorist and even anti-national. Most of the time the abuse beyond a level doesn’t come through the post comments but through the inbox.
Some people, irrespective of the stand I take, are unhappy with my arguments and starts abusing me on that also. That was a case when I posted about Jallikkattu and said that there is no issue if it is a sport of racing, but it seldom is a harmless race in reality. But the antagonist focussed on the tortures on animals documented and was hell bent on finding a reason to abuse me and that was that I am a nonvegetarian and has no right to talk about animal rights. That’s where I realise that humans have an exceptional quality to see small mistakes while large positives are easily ignored(of course, including me).
I have seen abuse as a tool in political debates in news channels. When one among the participants comes up with exact statistics he can’t counter, he resorts to abuse. This technique is being used even by party spokespersons, and even some anchors who host the show.
One special case of corporate abuse is also there when the boss abuses the subordinates to hide his mistake and blame the subordinate for what went wrong.
Sometimes the abuses reach absurd levels showcasing the cultural turpitude of the abuser. The funniest aspect is that the abuser may be arguing for superior cultural values that were supposedly existing in his identity group and resort to showcase his cultural superiority by low-level abuses. It can even be used by refined, educated, social beings and those fine pristine prudent women.
These abuses stem from the inability to succeed by logical argument as I already pointed out and deserve to be ignored as there is no merit in answering them. If you decide to answer them, you will deviate from the topic of debate and will lead to a competition about who can be a better abuser. Budha had explained this to his disciples through and example. Once someone approached Budha while he was talking to his disciples and started abusing Budha. Budha just smiled and continued what he was doing. The intruder left after some time and a disciple asked Budha, why he didn’t reply the intruder. Budha asked a question. If someone comes to you with a gift and you didn’t accept it, to whom does the gift belongs? The disciple answered that it belongs to the donor as long as it is not accepted. Budha smiled and replied that same is the case with abuse.
Argumentum ad hominem is not something new. The fallacy of attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument instead of seeking to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument as a principle of argument was followed even in ancient Greece. Often the fallacy is characterised simply as a personal attack and in modern days it is willing to stoop to the lower levels of naming and shaming.
Maturity is also an ability to ignore what is to be ignored when it is to be ignored and ignoring those who deserve to be ignored.