Attack on Walter Williams fails several tests of logic, intelligent debate

Posted: Feb. 8, 2013 11:11 am Updated: Mar. 1, 2013 12:15 pm


To The Herald-Whig:

In a letter (Jan. 25) dissing Walter Williams' column on gun control (Jan.16) C. Patrick Hotle only manages to shoot himself in the foot.

Williams' basic thesis is that gun violence is largely the result of a breakdown in the civility of our society. And he claims that one cause of the breakdown is the emphasis on moral relativism that has swelled in recent decades due to the influence of liberalism in our schools, colleges and media.

Instead of an ethical, substantive rebuttal, Hotle simply hits out at Williams, denouncing him as so lost in an imaginary golden past that he's unable to fairly judge present conditions, especially any affected by liberal policies. Hotle also accuses Williams of relying almost solely on name-calling, but offers not one example, unless we're to consider "liberal" a nasty epithet.

In short, Hotle attacks the man, not his ideas. Since Hotle won't engage Williams, his own list of gun violence causes reads as a sidebar to his ad hominem fling:

1. "Sanctification" of gun violence in movies -- an industry, by the way, dominated by ardent liberals. (Doesn't this help prove Williams' point?)

2. The "greedy and ruthless gun lobby." In other words, support of the Second Amendment denotes ruthlessness and greed.

3. A refusal "to think outside of an ideological box." (Name a dozen people who can manage this feat.)

To play the game fairly, Hotle would have had to justify his implied premise that the present always improves upon the past. Williams in other writings has talked of his childhood during the 1940s, a time when black children had a 70 percent chance of living in a two-parent home. Now it's only about 30 percent. Why does pointing out such facts show Williams as intellectually incompetent?

Later in his gun control column, Williams says, "Customs, traditions, moral values and rules of etiquette, not laws and government regulations, are what make for a civilized society." How much more thought-provoking this is than anything in Hotle's slur. Predictably, he deigns not to respond.

So maybe it's C. Patrick who should try thinking outside the box -- his liberal box -- which appears about the size of a matchbox compared to the piano crate in which Walter Williams cogitates.


Steve Black