Unparliamentary language

In the UK there are rules of etiquette in parliament that forbid members from using language that is inappropriate. These include words like liar, stupid cow, hypocrite, idiot, rat etc. If a member of parliament breaks the rules the speaker will step in and request the language be withdrawn. If the member fails to comply they can be temporarily suspended from the chamber.

This all seems fairly sensible as you can’t really have a debate with someone if they call you names. The first lesson in debating 101 is to attack the argument not the person. Otherwise you commit an ad hominem which is a fallacious argument.

Listen to what this Australian MP says in parliament this week.

Where is the speaker?

I used to follow climate change debates about a decade ago and they were fairly heated and contentious but I never once saw a politician in parliament use such language about someone whose views they disagree with.

From afar, Australian politics looks a bit like this: one side denies climate change while the other calls women nazis and excrement.

I think all school children should be taught the basics of philosophy especially ethics and how to debate with others respectfully. And I say this as someone who wishes she had learnt this stuff at school too.

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