A tone argument (also called tone policing) is a type of ad hominem aimed at the tone of an argument instead of its factual or logical content in order to dismiss a person's argument. Ignoring the truth or falsity of a statement, a tone argument instead focuses on the emotion with which it is expressed. This is a logical fallacy because a person can be angry while still being rational.[1] Nonetheless, a tone argument may be useful when responding to a statement that itself does not have rational content, such as an appeal to emotion.[1]

The notion of tone policing became widespread in U.S. social activist circles by the mid-2010s. It was widely disseminated in a 2015 comic issued by the Everyday Feminism website.[2] Activists have argued that tone policing has been regularly employed against feminist and anti-racism advocates, criticizing the way that they presented their arguments rather than engaging with the arguments themselves.[3][4][5][6]

See also


  1. ^ a b Chhokra, Shubhankar (April 8, 2016). "The Myth of Tone Policing". The Harvard Crimson.
  2. ^ Hugs, Robot (December 7, 2015). "No, We Won't Calm Down – Tone Policing Is Just Another Way to Protect Privilege". Everyday Feminism. Retrieved June 25, 2023.
  3. ^ Singh, Shambhavi Raj (July 17, 2020). "Infographic: What Is Tone Policing And Why Is It Wrong?". Feminism In India. Archived from the original on August 8, 2022. Retrieved September 14, 2022.
  4. ^ "How Tone Policing Is Used to Silence Black Women". Blackburn Center. February 24, 2021. Archived from the original on June 15, 2022. Retrieved September 14, 2022.
  5. ^ MacLachlan, Alice (May 10, 2022). "Tone-Policing and the Assertion of Authority". Blog of the APA. Archived from the original on May 27, 2022. Retrieved September 14, 2022.
  6. ^ Oluo, Ijeoma (January 2018). So you want to talk about race. Seal Press. p. 201. ISBN 9781580058827.