victima argumentum ad hominem

   When you can’t reasonably, logically, factually, or rationally argue the merits of an assertion, attack the veracity or the character of the person making the assertion.  There’s a Latin phrase for it, victima argumentum ad hominem, and it’s an idea that’s been around for quite some time.  In political terms, ‘if you don’t like the message, attack the messenger!’  It’s also a concept that’s getting a good deal of use here in Lee County during the course of this year’s budget discussions.   

   Conceptually, budgets are very simple things, regardless of the organization.  Every organization has a list of things that it MUST accomplish over the period covered by the budget; it probably has a list of things that it SHOULD accomplish given sufficient time and resources; and may well have a third list of the things it would LIKE to accomplish if there are resources left after the MUST do list and the SHOULD do list are sufficiently resourced.  In the case of Lee County, the chief resource is publically collected funds, i.e., tax dollars.  Also in the case of Lee County there aren’t enough of them available again this next year to accomplish everything that all Lee County public entities MUST, SHOULD, and would LIKE to do.  This is where it begins to get complicated and adversarial.

   The LCSS is required to provide a sound basic education for the school-aged population (6-18 yearolds) of this county.  For that purpose it receives a per student allocation of funding from the State of North Carolina and an additional allocation of funding from the U.S. Federal Government for specifically directed purposes.  The Lee County Government is obliged to arrange for adequate facilities from which the LCSS will provide that sound, basic education.  For this purpose, Lee County must levy and collect local taxes from the citizens of the Lee County.  Now if that’s all that was being done to provide a sound basic education, conducted in adequate facilities, there’d be plenty of money for ALL of Lee County’s MUST do items, even in current economic times.  Yet, Lee County has a budget crisis.  There simply are not sufficient tax dollars available, without raising the tax rates, to meet the demands placed on them.

   Because the LCSS does more than provide a simple, sound basic education for the youth of LeeCounty, it desires more funding to accomplish its goals than the State of North Carolina is willing to provide.  That funding must come from the Lee County taxpayers as approved by the county commissioners.  These funds are above and beyond that which Lee County is obligated to provide.  It’s also an amount that must compete against the county’s departmental MUST, SHOULD, and LIKE to do lists. The duty to balance these myriad competing requirements against the available funds rests solely with the Lee County Board of Commissioners.  Herein lies the rationale for the personal attacks: there aren’t enough tax dollars to do everything everyone wants to do, so the commissioners must be goaded into providing more resources for public schools . 

   Commissioners recently began delving into the prioritization of requirements (MUST, SHOULD, or LIKE) and they already have found the LCSS hasn’t provided the necessary information to identify priorities.  Historically, Dr. Moss has claimed perogative in not divulging his priorities; even to the LCBOE.  In like manner, the LCBOE hasn’t stated any priorities, and apparently doesn’t know what Dr. Moss’ are.  Commissioners have collectively and individually requested of Dr. Moss the information they need to complete the budget.  For this they have become victima argumentum ad hominem, which accomplishes nothing.  Attacking the persona of the commissioners does nothing to answer the Lee County budget issues.  It doesn’t resource the schools, or the Sheriff Department, or any of the other services found in this county.  If attacks need be made, focus them at the LCBOE and its employee, Dr. Moss.  Get these officials to do their jobs and answer the questions being asked, devoid of sarcasm, vitriole and personal attack.

About Charles Carroll

I am a wealthy planter, originally from Maryland, and an early advocate of independence from Great Britain. I served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and later as United States Senator for Maryland. I was the only Catholic and last surviving signatory of the Declaration of Independence.
This entry was posted in Budget, Education, Lee County Politics, Taxes & Fees. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to victima argumentum ad hominem

  1. Randall Lee Yow says:

    Mr Carroll,

    You mean like when I am called a “good old boy” and lumped into conspiracy theories for having an opinion on things? Personal attacks like that? I do not want to get into a Latin fight with a Catholic (i do not know if you are, but the “real” mr carrol was, not that there is anything wrong with that), but let us try, “esse quam videri”. The North Carolina state motto: To be, rather than to seem. Let us endeavor to act like statesmen, not just dress ourselves in their names.

    -Randall Lee Yow

  2. Randall Lee Yow says:

    Come to Lee County and have a basic education. Now that is a slogan! Maybe we should put that on all the road signs. Lee County will give your child a adequate BASIC education. I am sure we can spur a lot of economic development with that. Also if you go to the Lee County Schools website, then click on “Discover LCS”, and then scroll down to “Superintendent’s Goals 2008-2012”. Is this not Dr Moss divulging his goals? I’m just asking? As all ways, I shall remain your common sense moderate question asker.

    -Randall Lee Yow

    • Indeed, Randall. Come to Lee County NC and grow your business under favorable tax conditions. Come to Lee County and have the finest quality of life anywhere in NC. Come to Lee County and receive myriad K-12 educational opportunities– a sound basic public school education, or a great homeschooling network, or two superb private Christian schools. Come to Lee County and take advantage of our great strategic location which puts us in driving distance of all the great places to work and shop. Just don’t come to Lee County and expect us to tax you into oblivion so we can finance K-12 education at the levels to which our administrators have become accustomed.


  3. Grammar Bee says:

    Mr. Yow,

    Whoever called you a “good old boy” must be a yankee and not have a clue what the term means.

    To receive a basic education would be absolutely phenomenal. If only Lee County Schools were capable of producing graduates that earned a basic education.

    “Lee County will give your child [a] adequate BASIC education. I am sure we can spur a lot of economic development with that. ”
    “As [all ways], I shall remain your common sense moderate question asker.”
    -Randall Lee Yow

    [an adequate, not “a adequate”] [always, not “all ways”]

    If Lee County could spur economic development with education, then Mayor Olive and Bob Heuts would not have just tried to give half a million dollars to a foreign company that would run a local company out of business.

    Educational funding is adequate in Lee County. Educational leadership is what is needed in our school system. From the individual school administrators to the central office up to our pitiful Board of Education. The show their representatives performed at the County Commissioner meeting was disgraceful.

    I do like your Kirk Smith style closing.

    • I am from NY so I guess I qualify as a Yankee, And if this is not a proper definition of good old boy than I don’t have a clue. “A man having qualities held to be characteristic of certain Southern white males, such as a relaxed or informal manner, strong loyalty to family and friends, and often an anti-intellectual bias and intolerant point of view.” (Citation: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000). Is this correct Grammar Bee? Since I know Mr. Yow only through his written opinions I have no idea if he meets the definition or not. He does not appear to be anti-intellectual, just anti-conservative, is that enough to throw him out of the good old boys club?

      • Grammar Bee says:

        Based on the American Heritage Dictionary’s definition, his writings and undue loyalty to his family, the democrat party, I shall concede the point to you.

        Based on his being, he ain’t one.

      • No George, that’s not good enough to throw him out of the good ole boy’s club, but it’s enough to throw him under the good ole boy bus….


      • Goose says:

        Grammer Bee “He ain’t one”? for shame turn in your name!
        James, I think I would rather be in a great place to work or shop than be within flying, er I mean driving distance! honk.

      • Grammar Bee says:

        Honk, honk,
        I thought somebody might get a kick out of that. Ain’t is in Webster’s, so it is grammatically correct, but it was used for the purpose of adding some southern flavor. Having attended public schools in North Carolina, it is a constant battle to utilize correct grammar.

  4. Norman Thomas says:

    This site has since its inception been a clearinghouse for ad hominem attacks. Attacks which have been made from behind the safety of a keyboard and a false name. This point should be taken as the grain of salt necessary to flavor the post it follows.

  5. Cheers says:


    Surely you jest, the posts on this site use fact, reason and logic to rationally argue points of view. There have definitely been some individuals called out for their actions, but they are not attacks, nor are they ad hominem.

    Throw that salt over your shoulder.

  6. Patrick Henry says:

    Ha funny Norman. Your comments are the “pot calling the kettle black”. Surely you need to get the junk out of your eyes and go read the other blog that has failed miserably to copy this one.


  7. Norman Thomas says:

    Patty – How am I calling the kettle black? I have not staked out a position on the use of ad hominem attacks. Mr. Carroll, however, has. And in doing so, called the kettle black.

    Cheers – Do some homework. A cursory review of the posts here reveals numerous – unending, really – instances of ad hominem attacks. Such as on July 24, 2010, when James Madison wrote that Richard Hayes was a “bully” and Doc Oldham was his “boy” and suggested without any evidence that school board members were benefitting financially from the renovations at Lee County High School. Or the next day, when Deborah Sampson suggested that Sheriff Carter’s anti-military bias was personified by his hiring a chief deputy who killed an active duty service member in what criminal courts ruled (and Debbie forgot to mention!) was a justified act of self defense. I am also reminded of a post from September 30 of last year in which a certain blogger who no one in town likes was called “evil.” Later on in the campaign season, pictures making fun of then-candidate Butch Johnson’s weight were posted, as well as unsubstantiated rumors about his level of education and the amount of time he spent “with his buddies at a watering hole” (hilariously, this post was called “The Truth About Butch Johnson” and used the words “bumbling idiot” and “liar” regarding Mr. Johnson). In an October 22 post by Patrick Henry titled “If It’s Friday…” contributor to this blog Benjamin Franklin commented that a local blogger is a “man child” and contributor John Jay countered by comparing Tamara Brogan to a “witch.” On the same day, James Madison called Butch Johnson “a boob.”

    I only bothered looking through October, because frankly, it got a little old. And what are five or ten more examples going to do to change your mind? Nothing, I am sure. I will however, add that commenter “Grammar Bee” makes my point for me by attacking Mr. Yow not on the substance of his argument, but on the quality of his grammar. Is this not an ad hominem attack? I also remember a recent comment in which Mr. Madison suggested that Bill Tatum was too drunk to remember a private conversation the two men had. Is this not an ad hominem attack?

    This is politics. The gloves come off on both sides. Complaining about it is useless, and complaining about it in a forum where it happens with the regularity of a clock is more than a little hypocritical.

    • Norman, Actually the Moore Co. D.A. refused to press charges against Mr. Butler, then a Moore Co, Deputy . Go figure! That isn’t really the same as a criminal court’s ruling so I guess Debbie was right not to mention it. However Mr. Butler et al settled out of court for $65,000 with Lt. Tomemy’s estate. Sgt. Phelps won a civil suit for $850,000 and settled a civil rights case out of court for another $650,000. Tomemy was pepper sprayed until the supply ran out then shot twice which killed him. Sgt. Phelps was shot twice but he lived to sue. The civilian who was driving for the solders was locked in the patrol car and was unharmed. He tended to back up the Sgt’s story and Mr. Butler changed his story in different versions. It was called an accidental death and I believe it was, it just rubs me the wrong way to have a mistake rewarded with the Chief Deputy position, we didn’t have one Lee Co. deputy with a better record?

  8. Randall Lee Yow says:

    Grammar Bee,

    I am an orphan that I was raised by my Grandmother. My Grandmother has since passed away. I am not married, so I do not have any children. I am going to assume you did not know these things and your comment about my family being the Democratic Party was not a sick joke at the expense of my dead parents or grandparents.

    George Clinton,

    Welcome to North Carolina. I am not not anti-intellectual, or even anti-Yankee. I must admit though, I have a certain bias against people who move to the South and act as if they are better and smarter than the people who live here. I admit we have our different ways and customs, but they are just different not wrong. However it would please me greatly if Northerns would never ever repeat the two following phrases to me:
    1, You know you’re really smart for a Southerner!
    2, That’s not the way we do it up North!

    • Grammar Bee says:

      Sorry to hear of your loss.

      The comment was made whether a person has one, two, three or four parents; was raised by parents, their aunts and uncles, their grandparents, adopted parents or grew up in the Oxford Orphanage.

      The comment meant to have a loyalty, similarly that one would have with their family, to the democrat party and so much so, (say it with an Italian accent) “that they’re part of the family”. Hence, doubling up on the loyalty part of the definition.

    • Mr. Yow 1, I would never say that about you! 2, True, I can understand that being annoying, I guess that is why there are those signs and bumper stickers that read “I don’t give a —-how you do it up North!” Any smart Yankee knows that the Southern way is the only way, right? So how do you feel about people from the Midwest or far west?
      My only peeve is the people that think New York is only a city not a whole state with farms, forests and mountains.

      • Randall Lee Yow says:

        George Clinton,

        I fine with people from the Midwest and the far west, to much snow for my tastes though. However, I do believe the farther you live from a major body of water the more likely you are to be slightly off. I know I had a friend in high school from Boston and his major complaints were that Southern food was disgusting (he hated mayo and pork) and that our insects were huge.

        -Randall Lee Yow

      • Mr. Yow,
        Remember the Great Lakes? We call them the North Coast…The only southern food I have problems with is what is done to green beans and “greens” in general, cooked to death. Pork is the best, though I do like South Carolina over either East or West style sauce. Your Insects are Huge! The first time I saw a Hercules beetle I thought it was a kid’s toy until it moved. I once kept a Carolina Wolf Spider as a pet and fed it ‘water bugs’ which seems to be the native’s name for the huge cockroaches….

  9. Cheers says:


    Richard Hayes ran the County Commissioner meetings like a bully. I do not know if that is what the person in the post was referring to, but that is not an attack, it is an accurate description of Hayes’ style of leadership.

    Doc Oldham being Hayes’ boy is not necessarily ad hominem as Doc Oldham has yet to offer a substantive argument about a single issue facing the Board of Commissioners and someone will have to factually verify this, but I do not believe Doc voted against Richard Hayes in a single meeting leading up to October 2010. Thus, Doc being Hayes’ boy, would be another factual observation. The lingo may have too much of a street lingo flavor for the average person capable of actually reading, but James Madison probably rolls like that.

    There may be merit to the idea that Lee County School Board members have benefited financially from the high school project. The evidence is not conclusive, but someone who may be privy to more information, would certainly conclude that an unethical issue has occurred.

    I ain’t in the military and I don’t know from what point of view Deborah speaks, but I believe the soldier was victorious in the civil case. If she is in the military, I would lean more towards her being plain spoken, like most military folks. (I think the Chief Deputy is a decent guy.)

    KFC being evil. I was going to put a question mark after that, but only a person who has never been in contact with the weatherman could place a question mark beside an obvious and factual statement.

    On the remainder, you may have a point. Though, when one presents an argument with fact and then adds a colorful description of an individual, that does not seem like an ad hominem attack. Especially if the described person is known to have lied during the campaign.

  10. Norman Thomas says:

    I see. It’s Keith Clark you were making the ad hominem attack against, not Butch Johnson. I will make a note of that in my files.

  11. Patrick Henry says:

    Flattered that my older posts are being referred to.

    made my day!

  12. Norman Thomas says:

    James – I have no problems with you people complaining about Keith’s activities. He’s not my friend and I really don’t care for him at all. I just think calling him fat (KFC is a nickname designed solely to malign his physique) and evil (a subjective view, to be sure) and yet having a guy complain in the same space about ad hominem attacks is ironic. Hey, nobody’s perfect. You don’t have to keep pretending you are.

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