Whistleblowing is About the Message, Not the Messenger

The Accuser

Source: We Meant Well

The current media pablum about whether Snowden is “narcissistic” or “spiteful” or the devil himself is nonsense. This kind of thing has become a set-piece in America to dehumanize and discredit whistleblowers so as to dilute public support for the vital information they make available. In high school debate class this lame name-calling is known as ad hominem, one of the lowest forms of argument. The idea is that a claim is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the person presenting the claim.

First comes an attack against the character of person making the claim. Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim the person in question is making, just like stating 1+3=2. The technique is in full use against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, particularly swirling around demands by the New York Times and The Guardian that the U.S. government grant him clemency.

The use of cheap ad hominem takes its crudest form in “opinion pieces” such as those by Washington Post typist Ruth Marcus. In the course of only a couple of hundred words, Marcus (who has never actually spoken to Snowden) calls Snowden messianic, smug, self-righteous, egotistical, disingenuous, megalomaniacal, overwrought, feckless and insufferable before concluding “The whistleblower personality is rarely an attractive one. Whistleblowers tend to be the difficult ones, the sort who tend to feel freer to speak out precisely because they don’t fit in. So perhaps it is not a surprise that the biggest whistleblower of all time has an unpleasant personality to match.” In an earlier piece, Marcus announced that “Snowden is no Socrates and no Martin Luther King,” as if anyone but her was even making such assertions.

See the full article at We Meant Well

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