My wife and I are having an argument about whether it counts as an ad hominem fallacy if you simply insult somebody in the course of your argument.
The particular instance that got us discussing it was that, in the course of this column about how global warming is a hoax, Dmitri Vassilaros refers to Al Gore as “Ozone Al” twice.
I think this counts as an ad hominem fallacy because it is meant to be a belittling nickname (which doesn’t even make sense in this case since ozone and global warming are two separate, though often conflated, issues).
My wife thinks it doesn’t qualify because it isn’t being used as part of a reason you should dismiss Al Gore’s claims about global warming – i.e., he isn’t actually saying “Al Gore is Ozone Al, therefore you should not believe what he has to say about global warming.”
I think that the whole piece is an argument that you should dismiss what Al Gore has to say about global warming, and the derisive nickname therefore counts as an ad hominem fallacy.
Am I wrong? Since this is GQ, I hope we can just address whether or not insults or mocking nicknames are ad hominem fallacies, rather than addressing the substance of Mr. Vassilaros’s column.