describing someone as stupid is not name-calling any more than would be describing someone as thuggish. Calling someone a thug is name-calling. Adjective vs. noun.
As a rule, the problem with name-calling, which by definition is pejorative, is that it is unnuanced, it's one-dimensional, categorical.
Just because someone is capable of behaving thuggishly, or in fact does behave in that manner, does not mean that that person is a thug exclusively. One can deplore a person's behavior on this or that occasion without deploring the person. On the other hand, if one can identify a pattern of behavior over time, one has a more solid foundation upon which to "name call" e.g. calling Ted Bundy a serial killer is perfectly appropriate. Even so, were one to write a biography of such a person, would it not be more enlightening, not to say fair-minded, to strive for even-handed explanation, for understanding, however complex, than simple condemnation?
In any event, I assume that you are a better judge of Virgil's character than am I. I haven't read Chaput's book, but then I am not partial to hagiography any more than I am to pathography. Both forms are self-evidently agenda-driven which is something several degrees distinct from simply having a well-considered thesis or a plausible point of view.
The issue with agenda-driven work, as you know, is that in the effort to bolster the aims of that agenda, whether it be positive or negative, information that may weaken or contradict such bolstering either is one-sidedly ignored, willfully de-contextualized, or problematically downplayed and questionably diminished. Needless to say, selection, prioritization, sequencing, etc. (of info.) are considerations that always are dynamically at play in composing a narrative--as, by the way, is tone of voice--but work that is transparently agenda-driven is also easily dismissed.
I get the impulse to revisit the facts, anchor them in a wider context, re-examine them in order to construct a more nuanced interpretation of a person or event, even to compose a more sophisticated analysis as a "corrective" to so-called conventional wisdom. De-mythologizing is a perfectly legitimate pursuit as long as it does not devolve into an exercise in impassioned, over-the-top debunking. In my experience, such passion is more effective when it is expressed between the lines than otherwise.
Sorry to run on. (It occurs to me that similar to Gaumer's tagline of "keep laughing," mine might as well be "sorry to run on." Some things, most things perhaps, go without saying.)
Bless your heart, Bob. Almost no one ever asks for MY opinion! However, you did. Apparently, as Tom described, Fellahy was in a very good position to hear what Virgil said and his confident statement... more
...that you are talking to someone who never completed the fifth grade and so am considered a fourth grade idiot. What that amounts to is I haven't the faintest idea what the heck you are talking about,... more
what we have here is a failure to communicate? Tell you what. Let's make a deal. If I accept half the blame for not expressing myself clearly (or perhaps too clearly since clarity, like compression, so... more
...I have no trouble accepting responsibility. I'd just like Spicer and a few others to be held accountable if only in absentia. (spelling?) And I thank you for reassuring me that lack of sufficient... more
Faulkner was a high school dropout as well. Anyone see a pattern here? Thomas, not Tom, Wolfe, on the other hand, had a graduate degree from Harvard, which perhaps explains why he is virtually unreadable.... more
And like many if not most writers of his caliber, not that there are many, his work benefits from re-reading. Someone, a teacher probably, once counseled me that one of the criteria when appraising... more
and it's a good one--alchemy. Only the best work affords the reader that experience. (There's a reason it's called the PHILOSOPHER'S stone.) Evan Connell, he of the terrific "Son of the Morning Star,"... more