"Tone Argument" and the Heart of the Matter

Recently I was having a tense discussion about a very traumatic experience with the perpetrator of the trauma. That person pointed out that I was "yelling" and they were "calm" as if what I had to say was not important or was somehow dismissable because of my tone versus theirs. I shot right back with an acknowledgement and a confirmation, "Of course I'm emotional and not calm. It was an emotion and very traumatic thing to go through." What the other person in the argument was trying to do to me was what is called a "Tone Argument." It's defined in terms of feminist rhetoric at Geek Feminism Wiki. But it applies to many different cases.

"...the tone of a statement is independent of the content of the statement in question, and calling attention to it distracts from the issue at hand..."

I like these two epigraphs to the entry:

"Just because you sound polite, doesn't mean your words aren't hurtful. Just because you sound acerbic, doesn't mean your words aren't kind." -- Comrade Squinky

"If you tread on someone's toes, and they tell you to get off, then get off their toes. Don't tell them to 'ask nicely'." -- Geeksophical

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