Arguing with people is probably the second thing I’m best at right behind convincing my neighbors that I actually live next to them, and there’s no need to contact the landlord or the police. My favorite approach to argumentative rhetoric is the ad hominem retort. An ad hominem approach to arguing is when you blindly ignore the opposition’s facts and arguments and strike them where it will hurt most: their stupid personalities.
Essentially, ignoring what is being argued is the key to crafting an effective ad hominem argument. Just tell whoever you’re debating that they’re stupid/fat/a rapist/a baby rapist/a fat stupid baby rapist/a duck, and then inform them that being that particular thing makes everything they think wrong.
It works every time.
But why don’t we take this method of arguing one step further? Why not develop a kind of ad hominem domus, a to the person’s home argument. That is to say, why aren’t we attacking everything and everyone involved in our opposition’s life?
It could be a difficult argument to make. After all, you have to gather a significant amount of information on the target to pull it off effectively. But imagine how grand it would be if you could! What if you knew everything about your foe’s day: what they ate, what they wore, their hobbies and interests, their shoe size. Then you could take all that information and turn it against them.
How wonderful would have the presidential nominee debates been if they took this approach? “Your shoe size is only 9, Mr. Romney? You know what they say about men with small feet. They rape baby ducks for dinner. Do we really want a baby duck rapist running this country?”
I know I don’t. See how effective it is? I just convinced myself that Mitt Romney rapes baby ducks for dinner. Is it true? I don’t know, but I do know that I wrote it. And why would I lie to myself?