An ‘ad hominem’ attack is a rhetorical device that attempts to invalidate an argument by undermining the credibility of the argument’s proponent: kill the messenger in the hope that the message will also die.
In its modern form, the objective is to so belittle and besmirch the arguer that they withdraw, hurt, from the field – and, if done publicly and viciously enough, to ensure that no one else will dare poke their head above the parapet. In its more extreme form, this appears as trolling. Another name for this behaviour is ‘bullying’. Bullying is often a substitute for argument when the case being argued is weak.
It’s interesting how quickly many Brexiteer’s arguments switch to some form of ad hominem attack. This is weird; they claim the argument in favour of Brexit has been won. Is the resort to bullying because they fear we’ll find out that their dream for all of us might prove to be unworkable?
The current denigratory term for those Remain voters who, in this land of free speech, still haven’t signed up to the ‘we’re all Brexiteers now’ mantra is ‘Remoaners’; perhaps, with inflation set to soar to 4%, a better term might be ‘realists’. Britain is going to need its realists in the next few years.