Persuasion and Ad Hominem attacks

I go to watch Blackpool at every home game. The protests against the Chairman and his family are always loud and voracious. They attack him, rather than his actions, and with speculation rather than fact. They are Ad Hominem attacks of the worst and least effective kind. In fact, they play the ball and not the man. As Robert Webb says, the problem with this is “a) it makes you look like you’re not interested in the ball and b) you almost always get the wrong person.”

The majority of fans I speak to, do not like Karl Oyston the Chairman. It is also fair to say that Mr Oyston’s mocking of the fans’ protests do little to diffuse the situation. The Internet forums provide an opportunity for fans to air their views with very little moderation, if any. Now fans are making personal attacks on the chairman and his family and making accusations based, on interpretation of data, hearsay and reliance on “expert” opinion posted on the forum anonymously. The response of the chairman is to pursue legal actions against these fans, his own customers. One appears in court this week and another has been required to post an apology on the forum site and make a donation to charity. A club and its owners suing its own fans? Bonkers!

The fans cite the convictions of the Oyston family, investigate accounts and call into question the legality of loans between the differing family companies. Then, if the actions of the fans wasn’t bad enough, when fans found out the mobile number of the Chairman they sent text messages directly to him and the response from a phone used by the Chairman was in itself Ad Hominem.

The unfortunate truth is that the Oyston family own the club. They run it. They control it. Like any business they take the risks and reap the rewards that come, together with the losses too. They are not required to spend funds or buy players, no matter how much the supporters protest. But, by the same token, those who pay their hard earned money to watch the club have a right to expect competent and effective management.

Fans will never know all the inner workings of the club, or all the transactions between the family companies. It seems that the club is cash-strapped and in financial distress, but this cannot be confirmed.

Those that love the club should focus on the facts and not conjecture. The horrid truths are that we are bottom of the table. The start to the season has, to quote Owen Oyston, been “woeful”. We started the season without a full squad and in all likelihood relegation will follow. This has all been on the watch of Karl Oyston and the Oyston family.

Unfortunately, the fans do not have the power to impose their will. Therefore we must rely on persuasion, a concept that goes back to Aristotle. Ad hominem attacks do not persuade and are one of the Logical Fallacies in the Art of Debate.

To achieve our aim let’s play the ball i.e. the league position could not be any worse, and even the owner admits the start of the season has been woeful. The one person who has to take responsibility for this, for managing the club and turning the situation round is the Chairman. Let’s not enable him to avoid that point by creating sides shows resulting from ad hominem attacks and playing the man.