Opinion: Don’t kill the conversation on education reform with insults

We don’t need to employ ad hominem devices.

Ad hominem. It’s not a term typically in my vocabulary, but it’s found its way there a lot lately. The online definition tells me that, used as an adjective, it is an argument or reaction directed against a person rather than at the position they are maintaining. Rather than being an argument in a discussion, it’s an insult to a participant.

Let’s stop doing this, shall we? For starters, let’s stop doing this in print. Ad hominem arguments don’t just stifle important discussions like those we need to be having right now about the future of our state and nation, they kill those conversations.

Carol Carman in her education reform My Turn of March 31 talked about having a rational discussion about education funding in Alaska. This is a good idea; we need this. Sadly, though, Carman prefaced this statement by describing teachers “squealing,” “gnashing their teeth” and “manipulating public sentiment.”

When I think of my highly-regarded fellow citizens, teachers, having these terms thrown at them, I find it difficult to get past these words to the point of having any kind of a rational discussion.

Please, let’s use our creativity to state our positions cleanly. We don’t need to employ ad hominem devices. Let’s instead look at the important facts and debate those.

Michelle Bonnet Hale,


• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.