The Argument From Intimidation

Leave aside political, philosophical or literary criticism of Ayn Rand; her description of a tactic she called The Argument From Intimidation is appropriate to the Steubenville story:

There is a certain type of argument which, in fact, is not an argument, but a means of forestalling debate and extorting an opponent’s agreement with one’s undiscussed notions. It is a method of bypassing logic by means of psychological pressure . . . [It] consists of threatening to impeach an opponent’s character by means of his argument, thus impeaching the argument without debate.

The essential characteristic of the Argument from Intimidation is its appeal to moral self-doubt and its reliance on the fear, guilt or ignorance of the victim. It is used in the form of an ultimatum demanding that the victim renounce a given idea without discussion, under threat of being considered morally unworthy. The pattern is always: “Only those who are evil (dishonest, heartless, insensitive, ignorant, etc.) can hold such an idea.”



  1. Black Betty

    I prefer to just call it what it is: extortion. Agree with my premise, or I’ll smear your name. Hand over your principles or I’ll brand you with this label. Give me this information or I’ll tell everyone you’re stealing.

    Stop playing with these people. Call them out for what they are: extortionists. And then throw it right back in their faces. If they want to know who paid for something, ask them who is paying for their things (private things, like telephones and birth control). If these people want to know how anyone can defend “rapists”, ask them how they can be so utterly immoral an unamerican as to deny someone a fair trial. Ask them how they can defend people who terrorize children in their schools. If they ask you how you can support Lee Stranahan, you ask them why they are against free speech, our most cherished right.

    You don’t owe these people anything. Make THEM answer.

  2. TheVision

    You should know that The Cleveland Plain Dealer Website (Cleveland daut calm) deletes any positive comments about Steubenville regarding this case. Please read their history of reporting this case (as they have a list of dates that they have reported on it). Also read the numerous, slanderous, negative and unsubstantiated comments they DO allow in their comments section.

    Just thought I’d share. I think you will see much more of this type of evil crap as the actual facts about this case come out….many “news” outlets like the CPD and The Atlantic Wire decided EARLY ON that they were going to peg ‘Steubenville’ as the next black sheep and now that it’s not working out in their favor, they’re suppressing those voices who are speaking contrary to their original mission statement.

    In the months to come, I think that this may be a topic you may wish to pursue further. It would be quite an addition to the already stellar reporting you’ve done about this case,Mr. Stranahan. I too, am at my wits end with people’s “stupid shit.” The “press” has REALLY shown itself to be nefarious with this particular case, and it’s bile-inducing, to say the least!

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