Exemple historique et argumentation : autour de la reconnaissance du massacre du 17 octobre 1961 // [Historical example and argumentation: the acknowledgment of the october massacre in Algeria]

This paper analyzes a corpus of readers’ comments published in newspapers’ talkbacks. The corpus involves the readers’ responses to the October 17th 2012 press release in which President Hollande acknowledged the massacre of Algerian demonstrators that took place on October 17th in Paris, a few months before Algeria’s independence. In particular, the article examines how bloggers use the historical example as a polemical rhetorical tool aimed at criticizing the President’s initiative. In this view, the historical example participates in a form of political apology triggering conflicting memories. In the corpus analyzed, it is often used fallaciously in order to deny either past wrongdoings, or the responsibility of the French State, or even in order to establish dubious comparisons with other traumatic past experiences. In this framework, the historical example is also used as a typical device for constructing slippery slope arguments and ironic rhetorical questions, thus contributing to build an ad ridiculum argumentative discourse.