Am I allowed to say that what someone is saying is stupid (even without saying what I probably think : that HE or SHE is stupid) ? The Bible has no hesitation in calling atheists like me fools. Galileo in his famous letter to Kepler in 1597 did not mince his words about heliocentrists when he wrote : “very great is the number of the stupid”. Chateaubriand said it best, as I have already noted (page 167) : we should be “parcimonious with our scorn because so many people deserve it”.
We all know that insults never fueled constructive dialogue and that telling people they are idiots is a guaranteed discussion-stopper, if not a trigger for armed conflict. But there comes a point sometimes when, to use a stupid pleonasm, enough is enough. When patent absurdity or blatant error is seriously proposed as truth, it serves no purpose to let politeness be mistaken for tolerance or acceptance. Some people manage this well. I do not. So I will try to content myself with ridiculing people’s insane ideas and combatting them with a reductio ad absurdum, rather than calling them names and questioning their intelligence or even sanity. “Do unto others …” I say.