In some weblogs, one element of style stands out: insults to opponents. These writers call their opponents names such as: nutbars, nutjobs, morons, cowards, idiots, goat herders, ragheads, and scum. They also use adjectives such as: moronic, idiotic, stupid, nuts, crazy, loony, insane, delusional, and childish.
Why do these writers use insults? Judging from their statements of purpose and the contents of their weblogs, these writers want the world around them to adopt certain views. Do these writers think that insulting their opponents will persuade their opponents to revise their values? I am not sure of the answer. I have only a "working hypothesis."
What I see in some weblogs--and also, I am sorry to say, in some of my own writing in various forums several years ago--is the use of language primarily to either express the writers' own emotions (typically anger) or to evoke emotions (typically anger) in their sympathetic readers and perhaps even in their targets. For such writers, emotions, usually expressed indirectly as insults, seem to be both the values to be achieved and the means for achieving them.
Such writers also seem to assume that emotions--especially those expressed by or triggered by insults--somehow cause history, that is, cause people to change their actions. The writers seem to assume the world is filled with human monads, each one radiating emotions, and the monads radiating most vibrantly win whatever struggle they have undertaken.
Most of the weblog writers who use insults also freely use hyperbole, for example: "This is absolutely and totally the world's foremost case of stupidity in all of recorded history." Perhaps such writers think hyperbolic language makes their emotional "vibrations" stronger. I suspect it is the equivalent of shouting in English when trying to communicate with a man who understands only Spanish. This is intrinsicism applied to communication.
My "working hypothesis" is plausible but unproven. Philosophically, I still wonder: What worldview underlies such insults? And, historically, I still wonder: What benefit have such insults secured in achieving any objective movement's goals for improving the lives of rational people here on earth?
Author, The Power and the Glory: The Key Ideas and Crusading Lives of Eight Debaters of Reason vs. Faith