World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Discrediting tactic

Article Id: WHEBN0000145187
Reproduction Date:

Title: Discrediting tactic  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Destabilisation, Bullying, Psychological manipulation, Setting up to fail, Ad hominem
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Discrediting tactic

The expression discrediting tactics refers to personal attacks, for example in politics and in court cases. Discredit also means to not give the credit that was deserved, to cheat someone out of credit.

In politics

The expression "discrediting tactics" in politics refers to personal attacks against a public figure intended to discourage people from believing in the figure or supporting their cause (see damaging quotations).

While a person may be insulted, and his political position subjected to question, the person so impugned has not been discredited until the allegations against him have been proved correct. One such discredit was the Impeachment of Bill Clinton. The allegations brought against the Chief Executive were damaging, but did not comprise discredit until enough substance arose from the testimony under oath of Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky to raise genuine questions of the credibility of President Clinton.

Robert's Rules of Order "Require appropriate censure whenever matters thought genuine are brought out that subsequently prove libellous, perjurious, or both... and where a person has repeatedly presented false or defamatory information for consideration, the person is subject to disciplinary action." See Perjury and Defamation.

Political debate often abuses public confidence by one candidate attempting to sway voters, not by logical argument on given issues, but by personal diatribe that does not directly bear on the matter at hand.

Accusations of adultery date back to the early 19th century. One famous example of this was the presidential campaign of 1884, in which Grover Cleveland was tarred by his opponents with having fathered an illegitimate child. A political catchphrase by his opponents was, "Ma, ma, where's my pa?" Cleveland won the election anyway, leading his supporters to add "Gone to the White House, ha ha ha".

Cleveland's defeat of his opponent, James Blaine may have been helped by another discrediting tactic used against him which seriously backfired, namely the assertion that Cleveland's party was that of "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion" (the latter two referring to Roman Catholicism and the American Civil War). Cleveland's campaign also used the slogan, "Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, The Continental Liar from the State of Maine" in reference to Blaine's discredited railroad deals.

Discrediting tactics are not just used against each other by opponents for office in democratic countries, but are also used in wartime between countries. In the middle of the 20th century, Soviet and British propaganda made popular the idea that Adolf Hitler had only one testicle (and was thereby less of a man).

American politics draws a line between "mud slinging" and defamation. The key issue is that mud slinging is not a form of perjury or libel. Politics also can include barratry where one opponent files frivolous litigation against the other, specifically to injure the opponent's reputation regardless that the case is groundless and may later be dismissed. By the time these facts can come to light, the voters have cast their ballots.

In court cases

In the U.S. judicial system, discrediting tactics (called impeachment in that context) are the approved method for attacking the credibility of any witness in court, including a plaintiff or defendant. In cases with significant mass media attention or high-stakes outcomes, those tactics often take place in public as well.

Logically, an argument is held in discredit if the underlying premise is found, "So severely in error that there is cause to remove the argument from the proceedings because of its prejudicial context and application...". Mistrial proceedings in civil and criminal courts do not always require that an argument brought by defense or prosecution be discredited, however appellate courts must consider the context and may discredit testimony as perjurious or prejudicial, even if the statement is technically true.

See also

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.