How to Win Friends and Influence Enemies Part II

10-17-2021Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Peace and Joy in Our Lord Jesus Christ!

The next type of argument that people may use to make their point is called ad hominem. This tactic is often used against pro-lifers. The approach is referred to as argumentum ad hominem, or "arguing to the man," and it consists of attacking a person or the organization instead of the person’s moral or logical position. Instead of arguing to the point, the person making their argument attempts to distract the other person’s attention away from the topic that is being discussed and rather focus on tearing them or their organization down personally.

I have experienced this tactic while praying at an abortion mill. The protesters will confront the pro-lifers in some rude and verbally abusive way. Often, the person attacking the pro-lifer uses this ad hominem argument in a way that often includes labeling and stereotyping someone or their organization in a pejorative, false and/or destructive way.

Many people who prayed at an abortion mill have witnessed anti-lifers describe themselves as “champions of the civil rights” for everyone except those persons who happen to disagree with them and of course to the demise of the unborn. Similarly, we have all witnessed on television or online, people who are so-called “experts” in the English language. They are self-appointed “word police” who often violently object when anyone around them (who they perceive to be) uses stereotypical, discriminatory, or racist labeling. Often their full-time hobby is declaring their perceptions or versions of "hate crimes." Sadly, they have been largely successful in their pursuit of labeling whatever they want as hate crimes.

Following are a few examples of anti-life stereotypical labeling that I have found.

  • "Well, you just think that way because you are a Catholic."
  • "I will not be dictated to by a Bible-thumping religious fanatic."
  • "You anti-choicers are all anti-women."
  • “These people who want to forcibly take away a woman's right to abortion are nothing but vicious, rabid dogs."

What can you do? I usually don’t confront the angry person at the abortion mill. They are in no condition to have a conversation or deal with reality. They just want to put you in your place and shut you up. So just keep praying and don’t engage unless the opportunity presents itself. Should you be able to engage in a conversation with a willing anti-life person then consider this tactic. Patiently and politely point out that the anti-life person is engaging in unjustified labeling and judgmental stereotyping and pigeonholing. If the anti-lifer continues to stereotype you through personal attacks, simply pause each time and point out the attack. When this has been done several times, the person will hopefully begin get the idea and the anti-life rhetoric will not work and others present will hopefully be able to see the hypocrisy.

To be continued…