Polemics Term: Tone Police


“Tone Police” is a polemics term used to describe those who interject themselves into conversations or arguments to complain about “tone,” or who easily reject¬†objective facts because they don’t like the subjective tone of those who gave them.


Type 1: Two people are having an argument on Facebook, and an individual interjects as a self-appointed cyber hall-monitor, lecturing one or both of them for what they perceive to be a “bad tone.” The problem here is that focusing on tone distracts from the substantive discussion, and perceiving tone is subjective to the individual.
Type 2: A polemicist presents factual information that can be objectively proven, but someone rejects their objective facts based upon their own subjective opinion regarding the tone of the polemicist. This is fallacious, logically, because a perceived negative tone doesn’t negate factual information.


As the Urban Dictionary defines it…

Tone police are people who focus on (and critique) how something is said, ignoring whether or not it is true.
They will discard a true statement simply because they don’t like how it was presented. This attitude is prevalent among emotional midgets, mental midgets, liberals and wimps.
They tend to be intolerant of any statement that isn’t couched with empty platitudes…, while thinking themselves a model of tolerance. They are often also hypocrites.
Tone police: “You might be right, but since I don’t like how you said it, I demand you apologize!”
This is true for the Tone Police in polemics discussions. “Playing Tone Police”¬†never helps truth to be determined, and is in fact an obstacle to worthwhile and substantive conversation.
Furthermore, as stated above, perceiving tone is 100% subjective to the hearer and to let a concern for subjective opinion outweigh the delivery of objective truths, is contrary to productive interactions. Engaging in tone-policing really is an indication of a weaker mind, or a mind less-interested in truth.