"I can only deduce that if you spout pro-palestinian rhetoric, and ignore that they are the initial aggressor because you aren't concerned with that truth, and you site Youtube as your source (as do many Stormfront.org members), that you have a bias against Jews, which is also known as anti semitism"

Is that an Ad Hominem argument? I think it isn't, because it is equating certain rhetoric with the goal of the rhetoric itself. For some context, StormFront is a white supremacist web site.


Ad hominem is the name of type of informal fallacy. I say that because the problem is that informal fallacies are more "rules of thumb" than hard fast strictly-defined philosophical terms. So often many different names will apply to the same fallacy or many different fallacies will occur in the same fallacious statement.

That said, this looks more to me like the genetic fallacy.

To illustrate:

(1) I say P.
(2) You say, "you suck!"
(3) You say "I won't listen to you because no one from New Jersey is believable."

Then (2) is ad hominem and (3) is genetic fallacy.

You might say (3) is a type of (2), but the basic rule is when a more specific fallacy is known, we use that name. The main difference is that genetic fallacy says I don't need to listen to you because you're a ... [white supremacist / homophobe / liberal / conservative / black man / non-native speaker of English] whereas ad hominem responds with the slur rather than claims it is a reason not to address the argument.

So in this case, the attack seems to be motivated in part by the use of youtube as a source. But then using the use of youtube as a source to impugn the claims made.

  • 2
    How did you know I was from New Jersey? :)
    – Gregg
    Jul 23 '14 at 2:43
  • How did you know I was from New Jersey? Is everyone from New Jersey here?
    – user4894
    Jul 23 '14 at 17:48
  • 1
    @Gregg At the moment if you click "network profile" after clicking someone's name it tells you all their activity on the stack exchange pages, but once you hit 3000 reputation on any one stack exchange site it shows you all their activity across the whole internet. It's clear just from your ISP details and pattern of route requests on Google maps that you live in New Jersey. Of course your invoice address being the same as your main delivery address on amazon.com was a bit of a giveaway too. Just to be completely clear. I am joking with this entire comment.
    – AndrewC
    Jul 24 '14 at 22:58

The main thrust of this argument is to conclude that the other speaker is an anti-semitic white supremacist. Given that being anti-semitic or a white supremacist is typically seen as negative, the main aim is to attach these negative labels to the other speaker and thus discredit their views.

In that sense, the main thrust of the argument is ad hominem.

It may be that this is an entirely true characterisation of the other speaker, or iit may be a gross exaggeration, but whether true or not, the argument mainly attacks the speaker by labelling them with negative characteristics.

The part about omitting initial agression is not ad hominem, and "you spout pro-palestinian rhetoric", again irrespetive of however much truth there is in it, is not ad hominem.


It's an ad hominem attack that I fully agree with...

The term "ad hominem attack" really stands for two things in practice. One, the logical fallacy that any fault in a person means that therefore what they say must be wrong. Second, a technique in a discussion where an argument cannot be attacked, and therefore the person making the argument is attacked.

In this case, the argument isn't actually "ad hominem". The argument is that we have a highly biased source for an argument, and therefore we don't believe that the argument is trying to get at the truth, but to get at a falsehood according to the biases of the source. So the quoted person correctly denies that there is any value in entering a discussion, like there is no value in wrestling with a pig.

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