This is something all activists have dealt with at some point in time. You present the best form of your argument only to have someone dismiss it outright because, "it's not the time or the place for that".

Of course, asking when an appropriate time or place is results in scoffs or scowls, but the question is not answered. Even Martin Luther King Jr. had to address this ideology ("The time is always right to do what is right.")

Sometimes it is wrong to protest in certain places and times, such as the funerals of soldiers, but assume that the protest is topical with the location/time.

Is there a name for this invalidation of arguments based on location and timing?

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    It's related to tone policing, which can be seen as a subset of ad hom
    – Joseph Weissman
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 15:35
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    If the protest fits the time and place (assumption from your third paragraph), then the rejection "it's not the time or the place for that" (first paragraph) is simply false.
    – user2953
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 15:36
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    This seems like a case of red herring to me, "something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important issue", "seemingly plausible, though ultimately irrelevant, diversionary tactic". More broadly, it falls under fallacies of relevance. Of course, whether a particular application it is a fallacy at all depends on the context of use.
    – Conifold
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 17:37
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    See the answer here: meta.philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/3040/…
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 18:32
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    Do you mean like "this is not the place and time to put up signs against all wars", or do you mean like "this is not the place and time to end all wars"? Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 19:24

2 Answers 2


An argumentum ad lapidem would be a fallacious dismissal if you were to query the dismissal and receive nothing to support it. This is similar to the fallacy of "proof by assertion" in that the assertion that your suggestion has a time and place which is not now is an unsupported assertion. Also related to "begging the question" depending on how the dismissal statement might be constructed propositionally.


It depends how one interprets this statement. Offhand, "it's not the time or place for that" is very vague (in the worst case, it could be a non-sequitur).

On the other hand, the "time" argument could legitimately be interpreted e.g. as:

  • "It is not time to discuss it" ("come back during office hours") or

  • "At this stage the proposition is not decidable" ("we cant tell because we haven't cracked this differential equation yet/we haven't landed yet a probe on ...").

In the first case, it would have little to do with logic per se, but it would be a social/policy question. The proposition would be decid -able all right, but one doesn't want to go through the process of rationally deciding about it here and now, for some reason. In the second case, it is too early, because there are still a few logical steps to do before getting there.

The moral, is that if the argument "not the time or place" had value (and if both sides were rational), then both sides would likely be able to agree on why it is so (on SE, it could be that it is off-topic).

Of course, in the context you are mentioning (activists, scoffs and scowls, etc.), the hypothesis that all people involved are rational is likely not satisfied.

In any case (especially if you were the only person with your head about you), you could perhaps ask: "Could you elaborate why you consider that this is not the time and place?" and take it from there. This would boil down to the classical: "if we want to argue about it, let us first define our terms".

Here I might get slightly off-topic (as this might pertain to workplace discussions): if you were the person to raise such an objection, you might want to formulate it in a positive way such as: "in order to decide on this, why do we not get together at such and such place and such and such time, since [...explanation...]"?

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