David Robertson’s Pot and Kettle

Wikipedia, in its article entitled The pot calling the kettle blackstates:

As generally understood, the person accusing (the “pot”) is understood to share some quality with the target of their accusation (the “kettle”). The pot is mocking the kettle for a little soot when the pot itself is thoroughly covered with it.

An alternative interpretation, recognized by some, but not all, sources is that the pot is sooty (being placed on a fire), while the kettle is clean and shiny (being placed on coals only), and hence when the pot accuses the kettle of being black, it is the pot’s own sooty reflection that it sees: the pot accuses the kettle of a fault that only the pot has, rather than one that they share.

It goes on to illustrate this with a poem:

“Oho!” said the pot to the kettle;
“You are dirty and ugly and black!
Sure no one would think you were metal,
Except when you’re given a crack.”

“Not so! not so!” kettle said to the pot;
“‘Tis your own dirty image you see;
For I am so clean – without blemish or blot –
That your blackness is mirrored in me.”

In Davy’s latest piece, he writes:

One task that the legal guardians of children have is the task of teaching children the art of disagreeing without engaging in personal attacks.

This particular art form is often missing in the comments sections of website articles and blog commentaries.

So, how has this legal guardian of children behaved on this blog? This is now his fifth column on gun control. His very first recent column is entitled Hysteria About Gun ControlIn it, he argues that those who oppose the banning of “assault weapons” and magazine capacity limits and who see such bans as leading to a greater ban on firearms are hysterical. The word hysteria is defined thusly:

1. an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, weeping, etc.

2. Psychoanalysis. a psychoneurotic disorder characterized by violent emotional outbreaks, disturbances of sensory and motor functions, and various abnormal effects due to autosuggestion.

So, the man who lectures us about personal attacks levels a personal attack in his very first post. Gun-rights advocates, whether you disagree with them or not, have logical, principled reasons for opposing these bans and for concluding that this is a stepping-stone for a greater ban. Instead of informing himself prior to writing about it, he accuses those who disagree with him of being hysterical. Is that “disagreeing without personal attacks”? How is it that the pot can “see” ad hominems while looking at his opponents, but he cannot see his own? David’s opening salvo is a direct insult, but he wants to call a whaaaaaambulance when he gets a predicable reaction. Moreover, if he wasn’t informed of his opponents’ arguments prior to his column, he certainly was informed of them after he published it. Did he change course and withdraw his “hysterical” allegation? Not at all. He continued to repeat himself as if we had said nothing. Physican, heal thyself.

Robertson continues:

The late conservative judicial icon Antonin Scalia said, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

So, Americans of all political persuasions are wanting lawmakers to come up with legislation that would be effective in hindering the ability of individuals to engage in mass shootings regardless of their motivation for doing so.

The general question to be answered is this: What would be effective?

Robertson took Justice Scalia’s remark out of context, and that was explained multiple times in a recent thread. Instead of addressing that objection, he repeats Scalia out of context as if it has logical force. When a writer repeats a point that has been substantively answered, he further insults his opponents by implicitly accusing them of not having an answer to said point. Such a tactic is dishonest because it deliberately misrepresents the opposition’s position. This is further reinforced with David’s following remarks:

In order to get an answer, other specific questions are being asked, such as, “Would banning further retail sales of the AR-15 and like firearms work?” and “Would limiting the capacity of gun magazines work?”

Those latter two questions are an example of public brainstorming.

Some Americans (such as myself) really don’t know the answers. They have seen some evidence of the lethality of such things, and, thus, they are questioning the need for them.

There may be legitimate reasons for not banning further retail sales of the AR-15 and like firearms.

There may be legitimate reasons for not limiting the capacity of gun magazines.

Those who know such legitimate reasons can explain them without attacking the people who ponder about such things.

Instead, the latter are often subjected to this:

Robertson followed that up with a picture of an angry man accusing his opponents of believing the same thing as Hitler. David dishonestly attempts to frame a question objectively when everybody on this blog knows that his questions have been thoroughly answered by posts authored by yours truly and by various contributors in the comments section of each thread. He not only refuses to argue in good faith, he continues to malign his opponents as being short on logical arguments and long on ad hominems. Doesn’t he realize that such a tactic is directly and personally insulting? If so, then who in the world does he think he is to complain about insulting remarks? It’s okay for him and for those who think like him to insult us, but we’re behaving like children when we question his integrity over his refusal to address our counterarguments.

By the way, a personal insult isn’t what an ad hominem fallacy is. An ad hominem fallacy is an attempt to refute a person’s claim by attacking the person instead of the argument. David’s been insulted, but his argument has been thoroughly refuted by by crime statistics and basic logic. Instead of addressing our arguments, he attempts to discredit them by attacking us. Irony, anybody?

He doesn’t stop there—

Those who engage in such ad hominem often do so within the cloak of Internet anonymity. Such anonymity tends to bring out the worst in people. Having one’s actual identity revealed tends to keep one’s behavior in check. (For that reason, I use my real name while writing, instead of hiding behind a pseudonym.)
So, David’s opponents who react negatively to his insults are doing so because they can hide behind their anonymity. If they used their real names, they wouldn’t act like that. Doesn’t David know what ad hominem means? The bottom line after five columns is that David doesn’t have to respond to the substantive, logical arguments of these anonymous posters because they wouldn’t argue as they do if they had to post their real names. That’s the very definition of an ad hominem attack! “You don’t have answers; you just spew invective, and you only do so because you use an alias.” He is thus attempting to refute our claims by attacking our anonymity. Guess what, David. Arguments are not defeated by attacking the person. Guess what fallacy that is.
David says, “Anyway, disagreeing without personal attacks is an art that adults should be modeling while online.” Then you should follow your advice and grow up. Quit feigning surprise when you insult people and get a negative reaction. You know good and well that I’ve commended you when you’ve provided a good argument. If you argue in good faith and show respect for your opponents by both informing yourself of what they believe and by fairly presenting their arguments in your columns, you would get far more respect from most of the participants on this blog.
Finally, Robertson says:
Disagreeing without personal attacks is what convinces people to change their minds about subjects. Using ad hominem simply causes people to put up their defenses.
Again, follow your own advice. Quit insulting your readers and engage the arguments they present. Calling them hysterical, bereft of argument and maligning what they argue is the quickest way to get them to “put up their defenses.” You’ve gotten the reaction you deserve because you fail to realize that the insults you perceive from us are a reflection of yourself. You merit our disdain and every legitimate insult directed at your expense. Your logical errors have been repeatedly pointed out. After five columns you continue to ignore them and repeat the same baseless and ignorant claims.
David loves to point out the mistakes he sees other writers make. He has devoted whole posts to snickering at news items from other websites, but he is unable to see his own very glaring hypocrisy. He acknowledges that he messes “up occasionally,” but that of course means nothing because his recent messing up, though repeatedly pointed out to him, goes completely ignored by the whaaaambulance driver-in-chief.


Weekend Caption Contest™ Winners June 24, 2016
Disagreeing Without Personal Attacks
  • Vagabond661

    David’s foray into gun control reminds me of Sam’s venture into sportscasting.


  • jim_m

    David understands “ad hominem” as well as Bruce understands “nihilism”.

    • Commander_Chico

      You understand ad hominem quite well.

      • jim_m

        As Scalia correctly points out: there is a difference between ad hominem and insult.

  • jim_m

    I swear that David’s article originally contained a direct request for gun owners to justify why they should be allowed to own assault weapons. Now it just says, “Those who know such legitimate reasons can explain them without attacking the people who ponder about such things.” My recollection is that it said something more along the lines of saying that gun owners should provide a reason for why they should allowed to have their civil rights.

    • Retired military

      I have been trained extensively on using M16A1, M16A2, M4, M60 and various handguns. I have fired the rifles in auto and semiauto mode (M4 in 3 round burst mode). I have ran rifle ranges with upwards of 50 people firing at one time, fired expert numerous times, and have about 35 years experience around weapons.
      I have been convicted of no crimes, have held TS clearance with compartmented access to include NUCWA.
      Who is David to question whether or not I need a 30 round magazine in my personal weapon or whether or not I need an AR-15?

      • Who is David to question whether you NEED anything?

        That you might WANT one and you’re legally able to buy one should be all the justification you need.

  • pennywit

    Have you and Dave considered settling this in the ring?

    • Scalia

      After David’s fourth post, I decided to drop the subject. He offered nothing new, so a new post from me would be nothing but repetition. As you can see, he cannot let the topic go, but his refusal to even acknowledge that his questions and arguments have been addressed–whether or not he agrees with them–is, IMO, extremely bizarre.

      • pennywit

        Politically, I’m more inclined to David’s side on this issue (as extensively demonstrated in our previous contretemps). Temperamentally, I prefer your rather direct arguments over David’s passive aggression.

  • Par4Course

    Gun control opponents know that crime has declined as gun ownership has increased, and that disarming honest citizens (i.e., those who obey gun laws) will not protect anyone (see, e.g., Chicago, DC and other big cities where it’s damn tough to legally own a gun). Like other liberal policies, gun control measures, since they will not produce the intended results, will lead only to calls for more gun control measures. The proponents will say: “We did the right thing – we just didn’t go far enough (by banning AR-15s and large capacity ammo clips or whatever). Now we have to take the additional step of …” This is how we spent trillions of dollars on the War on Poverty without seeing any measurable decrease in poverty.

    • jim_m

      The answer to all failures of leftist policy is that they didn’t go far left enough

      • Retired military

        Or spend enough of someone else’s money.

  • Retired military

    “So, David’s opponents who react negatively to his insults are doing so because they can hide behind their anonymity”
    My name and location were printed in this blog in previous thread. David is free to contact me in any way shape or form if he wishes to try to discuss things face to face. I am not trying to hide behind anonymity or at all.
    I look forward to David responding to this column with yet another column on limiting our 2nd admendment rights and not responding to any discussion made by posters.

  • Tanuki Man

    Thank you. You’ve become the only Wizbang writer worth reading.