I'm not sure that I "took offense" as such with Alvin Tofstig's statement. For one thing, it wasn't directed at me. I was interested at what I viewed as a good example of how discussions about relatively unimportant issues on this forum can sometimes turn hostile. What seemed to happen in this case was that old stated an opinion concerning monkeys and MIG welding (which, for what it's worth, I happened to find uninformed, misguided, and mistaken) but wasn't aimed at any specific individual. Alvin Tofstig responded with an ad hominem statement---he attacked old personally instead of addressing the issue.
If I were to say, "I think John Wayne was the best actor who ever lived" that wouldn't be an insult directed at any particular individual, even though a lot of people would disagree. If someone responded, "That's because you're an idiot," that would be turning away from the subject in question to make a personal attack on me: an ad hominem statement. Most of us can accept that others hold opinions we don't share, but when the response to a statement of opinion is an attack on the person who stated it, the discussion is likely to turn into an argument---or worse. That's why I mentioned it.
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