Tone troll

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A tone troll is someone who, in the course of a debate, dismisses an opponent's argument based on perceived crassness, hysteria, or anger.[1] It's a particularly slimy form of ad hominem attack beloved of Very Serious People, and its sliminess comes of it being quite commonly deployed against opponents lower on the privilege ladder. However, the phrase "tone trolling" itself can be used to excuse verbally abusing one's opponents, so be careful who you accuse of doing it.

As a debating technique, it can theoretically be employed honestly (in response to emotional appeal), but it's not a very good argument because it focuses on style over substance. Rather than addressing the central claims of an argument, it focuses on superficial, "shrill" features of said argument, which inherently isn't that logical. Tone trolling in practice is almost always dishonest and therefore kind of creates an "appearance of impropriety" situation. Ostentatiously picking their arguments apart in disturbingly calm Spock Speak is probably a more productive approach there.

The phrase "tone trolling" itself can be used to excuse verbally abusing one's opponents, so be careful who you accuse of doing it. Two common responses when it's deployed on you:

  1. Make sure that you either have your arguments together or the opponent is not debating in good faith. Bonus points for both, since it can backfire if your own allies contradict you.
  2. Light the flamethrowers and swear like an entire truck stop with a gas pump on fire.

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. If someone is really and truly drunk with rage, just ignore them. Confronting them only makes them angrier.
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