On 15 November 2010, Chas Licciardello of The Chaser published an article on the ABC’s The Drum Unleashed responding to an article by Paul Howes in the November 13 Daily Telegraph. Howes’ article criticises Internet anonymity; and while Chas’ article is funny (as a good deal of The Chaser team’s work is), it’s a fallacious response to Howes’ argument.
Here’s how Chas summarises Howes’ article:
Howes’ argument focused particularly upon the effect anonymous abuse might have on politics, and it consisted of two major points — that politics is a horrible job; and that political candidates may be driven away by the hatred they face on the internet. Then all we would be left with is a choice between “pollie-bots” and “absolute dimwits”.
This is a fair summary of Howes’ article. But then Chas goes on to argue that
…Howes’ argument is self-refuting. With all the working, travelling and getting stabbed in the back politicians do, does anyone think that being called “utterly incompetent” by rangarooter34 on news.com.au’s comments section is going to be a defining factor in their career choice?
While Howes’ claim that a bit of Internet abuse will cause politicians to reconsider their career choices and budding up-and-comers to think twice about entering politics may be questionable, it is not self-refuting.