Refute='contest' in the wild

James A. Landau <> JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Sat May 23 23:02:05 UTC 2009

On Fri, 22 May 2009 14:01:57  Geoffrey Nathan <geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU>
wrote (emphasis mine):

Here's a nice example of 'refute' used to mean 'argue against' without
any presupposition of success:

Immediately after Obamas speech, former Vice President Dick Cheney
delivered a speech refuting Obamas comments about how to handle the
Guantanamo detainees.

This came from a weekly mailing from Cato, a libertarian think-tank and
virulent opponent of Cheney and in the context of an article attacking the

**pro-torture views of some of our former rulers, errr, government officials.**

It occurred in a mailing entitled 'Obama vs. Cheney Smackdown ' dated

Geoffrey S. Nathan=20
Faculty Liaison, C&IT=20
and Associate Professor, Linguistics Program=20
+1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT)=20
+1 (313) 577-8621 (English/Linguistics)=20

Could somebody please explain to me the usefulness of inserting a political comment into a message about a point of English language usage?  The effect of such a comment is to leave grave doubts as to whether Professor Nathan can be trusted to give an honest opinion as to whether a rebuttal on any subject by Mr. Cheney has qualified as a refutation.

    - James A. Landau

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