"Slander" Is Anything Bad Said About Me

Richard Cohen wrote in the Washington Post

"[p]eople with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children,"

Apparently people responded to the article by saying that Cohen was as a minimum deeply out of touch and perhaps a tad bigoted himself.  Of course, since this is the Internet age, some folks said these things in juvenile and deeply unproductive ways.

I am not going to comment much on his original statement.  I think the article is far more revealing of Mr. Cohen's mental outlook than that of anyone in Iowa, particularly since he brought no facts to the table, but a lot of people have already pointed that out.  I wanted to comment on his follow-up statement

I don’t understand it …. What I was doing was expressing not my own views but those of extreme right-wing Republican tea party people. I don’t have a problem with interracial marriage or same-sex marriage. In fact, I exult in them. It’s a slander…

Seriously?  So people's opinions about actual statements made by Richard Cohen in writing are slander, but ugly accusations made about Republicans or Tea Partiers he has not even met are not?  At least his critics are working with his actual statements, rather than offering an opinion of a large, inhomogeneous group's state of mind as fact.

He added, “I think it’s reprehensible to say that because you disagree with something that you should fire me. That’s what totalitarians do.”

Yeah, because totalitarians never broad brush vilify whole groups who constitute their political opponents.

This is a great example of how ad hominem argumentation works.  The Left has spent a lot of time attempting to vilify the Tea Party as flat-out BAD PEOPLE, in a similar way to how we climate skeptics have been vilified.  Once one is successful at this, then all the rules of discourse don't apply.   You don't have to engage them or treat them seriously because they are BAD PEOPLE.   We good liberal-minded folks would never stereotype large groups, except of course the Tea Party but that is OK because they are BAD PEOPLE.  And everyone knows that the rule of law, much less the rules of normal discourse, do not apply to BAD PEOPLE.


  1. Drake:

    My low opinion of de Blasio has nothing to do with race. Although - my opinion of him did drop a little every time I saw one of his ads where he trotted out his kid with the big afro hair. Rare to see such crass pandering using a family member.

  2. Sam L.:

    Comments at Althouse.com are mostly critical of RC and his supporters. RC is just too conventional for words.

  3. Another_Brian:

    I would say the rhetoric doesn't just label the outsiders as BAD PEOPLE, but could go as far as to label them NONPERSONS. If you can persuade people within your own group to view anyone outside the group is a NONPERSON, you can get away with all sorts of rhetorical tricks. One need only look at the language used to either describe or debate with someone outside their own group to see this at work. They use words and actions that no civil person would use with another person. Some are more equal than others.

  4. GA:

    inhomogeneous? heterogeneous, Princeton :)

  5. John O.:

    Ah yes, this is the exact reason why fallacies of argument when used often immediately cause me to judge the person who used it as having no argument and I completely dismiss everything they say. Nothing can convince me more that an argument has been forfeited than to do exactly this and Cohen's response to his criticism reinforces that doubly.

  6. epobirs:

    What year does Cohen think he's living in? 'Guess Who's Coming To Dinner' was in theaters in 1967. 'The Jeffersons,' a sitcom with a mixed-race couple in the primary cast, started on TV in 1975 and lasted eleven seasons. I was only 11 years old at the time but I don't recall a huge public outcry over the Willis family.

    If anything, it's De Blasio's attempt to depict his family as some special proof of his superiority that is the mark against him. Level headed people don't try to turn something mildly uncommon into a boast. It reeks of desperation. But then, that is an odor I expect to become associated with NYC again.