December 18, 2012

Why are people having so much trouble understanding rhetorical devices?

You may remember Justice Scalia the other day tweaking the kids at Princeton for not being able to handle reductio ad absurdum:
It's a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the 'reduction to the absurd'...
It can't be, of course, that the Princeton students never get argument that comes in the form of taking a principle you know your interlocutor holds dear and presenting him with other things that could fall within the principle that you know he'll object to. It's irritating to be on the receiving end. The one who wields that argument is playing with ideas, fun-loving, and challenging. The one on the receiving end doesn't want to play along. He may get super-serious and offended: How dare you talk about something I hold dear alongside those horrible things that all decent people loathe?! It's an argument with which older, calmer people needle the emotional young.

Scalia never said homosexuality is like bestiality. Here's the passage in his dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas that heats up his opponents:
State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are... sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.
Now, it's rhetoric to act like he equated homosexuality with bestiality. It's rhetoric to say — as the Princeton student did — "Do you have any regret or shame for drawing these comparisons you did in your dissents?"

It's rhetoric to respond to that question — a demand for an account of Scalia's inner life — by mocking the student's inability to understand rhetoric. That was cold, intentionally cold. Hey, you Princeton guys are supposed to be smart. But Scalia could have chosen a warmer approach without selling himself out. That question could have been answered:
Actually, I do have feelings and I know that many of the opinions I write upset people, but what would cause me regret or shame would be to let things like that sway me from deciding the cases according to the law. I'm a judge, and when I'm doing my judge work, I have to stick to being a judge. And part of being a judge is to demand that a case express a rule that can be applied to other things that are similar. The question in Lawrence was whether moral feeling, standing alone, is enough to support a law. If the majority was saying no, then it needed to commit to that proposition across the board, and I was testing that, and a test really does need to be sharp and probing. I get that it pains you, but step up and argue with me. Tell me why bestiality is different from the other things on the morality-only list. Actually, it's pretty easy: The animal has feelings. We have feelings. Animals have feelings. Feelings matter. But as a judge, I can't do feelings. Come on, have some empathy for me in my plight!
I've gone on quite long about Scalia, but Scalia wasn't the inspiration for this post. What got me started on this track was the difficulty readers had with 2 of yesterday's posts that entailed the use of rhetorical devices. One consisted of 2 quotes: "What is the gun community going to do about this tragedy?"/"I dunno. What is the gay community going to do about Penn State?" This linked to Instapundit, who provided the source of the quotes and who now has a couple updates that suggest he's getting pushback similar to some of what I see in my long comments thread, e.g., "Professor Althouse, the comparison is absurd, bigoted and offensive any way you cut it. You should be ashamed of yourself for linking to it with approval."

See? Shame on you! I am offended! Come on, think about it. Figure out the puzzle. It's an analogy, pithily phrased, and thus an occasion to pick apart the ways in which the 2 statements are/are not parallel. Many readers in my comments thread did understand the rhetoric and deal with the coherence of the analogy, but many fell into the sort of expression of outrage that's so common and so dull these days. At least show you understand the rhetoric and then tell me it's in bad taste to be humorous and challenging over topics so raw and painful.

The second post that got me started on this topic was the one that linked to this Matt K. Lewis item "The media should be ashamed of its Connecticut coverage." I'd quoted only the last few lines of that piece, where he proposed "some common sense media control." He's doing a twist on the post-Newtown gun control arguments, switching the right under threat from the 2d Amendment to the 1st Amendment. I thought that was clever and thought-provoking, but unfortunately some readers didn't get it. One said: "Professor Althouse, I'm not sure whether you got punked or if you get that this article is satire and are endorsing it's [sic] specious point." Oh, jeez, that's annoying! I like to keep things crisp around here. Are people going to be so dull that all humor will need arrows pointing at it saying it's humor?

Actually, I see that the 2 comments I've selected for quotation here are by the same person. Maybe he's simply pretending to be dull and doing the Theater of Outrage. That's rhetoric too, and I need to get it.

214 comments:

1 – 200 of 214   Newer›   Newest»
Pogo said...

1. More people are ignorant of logic and proper argument because it is no longer widely taught.

2. Some people fully understand the logic behind these arguments, but choose to pretend otherwise, in order to appeal to emotion. Propaganda is their aim.

In short, they're either stupid or fascists.

Jay said...

People have so much trouble with this because our society now values emotionalism over critical thinking and reason.

Said rise in emotionalism an output of the modern feminist movement.

Happy?

Matthew Sablan said...

The simple fact is, parody and satire of the left is always "over the line" and "Not Funny."

Matthew Sablan said...

It's what someone referred to as The Daily Show's "Clown Nose-on, -off" routine. Turn around and use this sort of reasoning against the right and the media will laugh about it, point out that the criticism is cogent and witty. It is very rare that you'll get similar reactions when you gore the wrong ox.

Jenner said...

I agree with your assessment - it's so boring and dull to have to deal with the non-understanding of the technique. You never get to the crux of the matter because you're tied up explaining it, and perhaps that is the objective (and that may or may not be intentional, just a happy by-product of valuing emotion over reason).

pduggie said...

This article by theo-blogger Alastair Roberts has gotten some notice. Its a bit prolix, but it states a thesis on the two kinds of discourse that seem to be developing in the world today, and how hard it is for them to come together

http://alastairadversaria.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/of-triggering-and-the-triggered-part-4/

Shouting Thomas said...

Steve Sailer explained the dilemma in this post...

Two modes of intellectual discourse: Taking everything personally v. debate as sport.

Simple answer... Declaring oneself to be offended is a weapon! Force your opponent to cower. The purported offense is a political tactic.

This tactic is approved and rewarded by school administrators and human resources commissars. The tactic implicitly assumes that opposition to any of the victim rights groups' political ambitions equals personal animosity toward that group.

When something is rewarded, you get more of it.

SGT Ted said...

The offended just want to be offended so they can ride their emotional hobby horse, harumphing over the horizon.

The comparison of calls to the
"gun community" to "do something" to a similar call out of the gay community to 'do something", is apt because it illustrates just how offensive the former is in assigning blame to people that have nothing to do with a crime or tragedy.

IF "gun culture" can be blamed for a criminal shooter, then the same group blaming can be used to the gay communities claim to have the right to promiscuous sex to sex crimes committed by gay people.

In fact, the same sort of group blaming used to happen to gay people, but now is only reserved for gun owners or the NRA.

If it is inappropriate to shift blame to all gay people for sex crimes other gay people commit, then it is inappropriate to hold gun owners to the same standard.

Of course Lems Law applies here, seeing as the attacks against a Civil Right are classic lefty boilerplate.

Big Mike said...

Shorter version of this post: Is there a point where lefties grow up and reason the way in which adults are expected to reason?

Ans: No. Next question.

leslyn said...

Scalia's text was so obvious, it's hard to believe anyone would not understand it. Princeton students or not. His reply was a teaching moment. To treat the objection more seriously than that would be itself ad absurdum.

That said, I think much of misinterpretation of written opinion, whether legal or not, is due to the inherent difficulty of conveying subtle inflection. Writing clearly and simply is more difficult than it seems.

creeley23 said...

From the gay/gun thread I concluded that those who didn't get it are blinded by their liberal biases and simply can't see the parallels.

For them gays are good and guns are bad and they can't get outside that box.

Since they "know" that they always have the intellectual and moral high ground over conservatives nothing can budge them.

Matthew Sablan said...

The other issue, to remember, is most people think that their positions are right, and that this is true on its face. So, anyone arguing on the other side is, by definition, an idiot, so clearly, could not be being clever.

Bryan C said...

When people pretend to be stupid in order to make themselves feel righteous and important, then I'm happy to take them at their word and treat them as stupid.

Crimso said...

It is important to remember the old saying that you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into in the first place.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

This based on the Lakoff "fingers in ears singling la la la la la la la la when enemies (conservatives/Republicans,Others) attempt dialogue" approach and it works.

They won. The public gives two shits about any of it.

ROMNEY IS A RACIST HOMOPHOBIC RICH ASSHOLE WHO CARES ONLY ABOUT HIMSELF is as profound as this country is today.

Shouting Thomas said...

The feigned outrage weapon isn't working on you, Althouse, because you're insulated from the consequences by your position as a tenured professor.

I appreciate that you are using that position in an obvious effort to bring us back to sanity, so that's not a criticism.

For the rest of us, who are not insulated from the consequences of these feigned outrages, the potential punishments are real.

The outraged do not, as you assert, fail to understand. They understand quite well.

Dad29 said...

part of being a judge is to demand that a case express a rule that can be applied to other things that are similar

Properly understood, this is the problem that Feinstein faces in defining "assault weapons."

That is, if she were honest.

Marshal said...

The left has spent two generations convincing themselves political theater is an appropriate substitute for thought. We shouldn't be surprised those who grasped at this substitute prefer it to thought.

Paddy O said...

Is this a thread where we can talk about the differences between a Thinker (T) and a Feeler (F)?

Henry said...

Moving backwards from your easily-outraged commenter to your generous translation of Scalia to the recalcitrant judge himself and you end in a place defined by stoics and cowboys. Nothing you say will change anyone's opinions. Everything you say will be used against you.

In this place, the only thing that matters to you is that you have satisfied your own integrity. The only thing you offer to anyone else is what you decide to do.

Bill Belichick comes to mind.

Of course going for it on fourth and two was the right decision. If you don't get it, why should have to explain it to you?

Paddy O said...

Remember when gay marriage was the absurd thing?

Unknown said...

Whats really sad is that the student's response shows that he STILL doesn't understand the rhetorical device.

Tank said...

Wow. I had not read that thread, just the post, then moved on.

Going back now, it's like monitoring an IQ test.

Everything is illuminated.

SGT Ted said...

"The left has spent two generations convincing themselves political theater is an appropriate substitute for thought. We shouldn't be surprised those who grasped at this substitute prefer it to thought."

This here. Political Theater and the emotionalism it depends on go hand in hand.

Marshal said...

Unknown said...
Whats really sad is that the student's response shows that he STILL doesn't understand the rhetorical device.


I think he understands it fine. He's learned that turning anything a non-leftist says into an accusation of racism, sexism, or homophobia is the appropriate response.

Mitchell the Bat said...

As I recall, it was never the case that a classroom discussion didn't devolve, disappoint, dishearten, dismay and discourage.

Matthew Sablan said...

Part of the issue, especially with the gay community/gun community thread, is that people don't want to admit unpleasant truths. For example: There's a ridiculous amount of denial about Sandusky raping boys. People insist that this shows no hint of homosexuality within the man; these same people making this argument, by the way, are often the people accusing Bachman's husband of being gay, because, gay.

The issue comes down to some oxes being sacred to certain audiences and no amount of reason or witticisms will allow them not to take that subject with Utter Seriousness. If people have convinced themselves that raping boys by a man doesn't even show a possibility that the rapist is gay, because, it just isn't true, darn it, then you're not arguing with rational people, as that 200+ post thread shows.

Matthew Sablan said...

It's the same reason people on the right are more hesitant to accept jokes about their own particular oxes, like freedom of religion. For every person who thinks Pastafarianism is a brilliant example of the dangers of allowing church to influence public life, you'll find someone on the right who just scoffs that it is a silly analogy that has no bearing on the "actual" realities of the world.

Patrick said...

The left's need to feel offended is greater than their need to understand logic. the only analogy they will accept is: "What is the gun community going to do about mass murder?" ::"All gay people are great, and any indication to the contrary is homophobic and probably racist."

Hagar said...

Obama has already walked back his call for neew legislation - it's a complex and difficult problem; yada yada yada.

The politicians are just baying (or braying) with their base to show thair progressive bona fides. They know that next week it's Christmas, then there's New Year's and the "fiscal cliff," and the media will be off on other things.

Larry J said...

For every person who thinks Pastafarianism is a brilliant example of the dangers of allowing church to influence public life, you'll find someone on the right who just scoffs that it is a silly analogy that has no bearing on the "actual" realities of the world.

Care to provide some names of people who scoff at your analogy or are you willing to admit that you just tried to set up a strawman?

Bob Ellison said...

leslyn said "That said, I think much of misinterpretation of written opinion, whether legal or not, is due to the inherent difficulty of conveying subtle inflection. Writing clearly and simply is more difficult than it seems."

I agree. Scalia is an excellent writer, but he writes about complex things, often in a complex way. "Cabin", for example. Who says that?!

He's also a good speaker. His meaning would probably be clearer in oral rather than written argument.

Marshal said...

Matthew Sablan said...
Part of the issue, especially with the gay community/gun community thread, is that people don't want to admit unpleasant truths.


I don't think this is the trigger. I think the groups have different goals. Scalia and Althouse are interested in the underlying principles. Those screaming homophobia want to win politically. Screaming racism or homophobia isn't missing the point of Althouse's game, it's an entirely different game. They don't care if Scalia and Althouse are correct, they're using them to futrther their own interests.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Here's way to handle the person who starts a debate by saying they are offended.

"OK, you're offended. What else you got?"

This immediately puts the burden back on them to explain why their being offended is relevant, and why they think it needs to be handled first or exclusively -- or, it shuts them up while they try to think up substantive arguments.

Shouting Thomas said...

Here's an argument about the possible causes of the Newton massacre that I find a lot more convincing that all the others I've read. It points to:

1. Children born to older mothers are much more likely to be autistic or developmentally disabled in some way.

2. Divorce and father estrangement

3. Rage at the mother for above

In other words, the cult of single motherhood! But, you know, we can't ever lay the blame on women.

Not saying I buy this theory, but it's better than most I've read.

EMD said...

I honestly didn't think the Lewis piece was satire.

Usually satire (to me) is funny, and his piece was terribly unfunny.

Seeing Red said...

I personally enjoy the Benny Hill skit dialog:

"I've never been so offended in my life!"

"Then you need to get out more."

Matthew Sablan said...

Larry: The point was to show a general, not specific, issue. I'm playing a bit fast and loose here to try and show that this is not a uniquely leftist problem. I didn't think it was necessary to prove that some people thought the whole idea was rhetorically vapid, but, yes. Believe it or not, some people just don't see the point of flying spaghetti monsters.

Peter said...

Jay said, "People have so much trouble with this because our society now values emotionalism over critical thinking and reason."

That's the consistent theme: Emotion should trump reason.

And perhaps it's to be expected. After all, law is based on texts, not videos.

A textual assertion of fact may be true or false; for example, one may assert, "The Union won the U.S. Civil War," and the assertion may be evaluated for truthfulness.

But what of a documentary film on the Civil War? It will (perhaps) show soldiers and battles, and perhaps Jefferson Davis and/or Abraham Lincoln. But even if it's a documentary it's still actors and make-believe and even if factually correct it cannot be literally true. At best it comparable to a historical novel and not to a history.

So, that's my theory: not that youth is inherently emotional but that today's youth- even law students- are far more familiar with the worlds of visual presentation than with cold, plain text.

Ann Althouse said...

""Cabin", for example. Who says that?!"

Lawyers, judges, and lawprofs.

Matthew Sablan said...

Movie makers.

jr565 said...

I love how Garage got singled out in that post on instapundit for being an idiot. Hey Garage, now readers of two websites know you're a moron.
The relevant quote again is
" Wait, is garage mahal actually so stupid that he can fail to see a reductio ad absurdum right in front of his nose?"


Apparently so.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Sometimes I like to say "canalize."

MadisonMan said...

"Cabin", for example. Who says that?!

Syrup makers. Lincoln Biographers.

Franklin said...

The simple fact is, parody and satire of the left is always "over the line" and "Not Funny."

Because it is impossible to parody the modern Left. For example, you'd think you could get them with "common sense regulations" of the First Amendment, but the Left IS for regulation of speech they find distasteful!

Matthew Sablan said...

AF: So, you're saying you don't need the rhetorical device community explained to you any more than you needed the rhetorical device about the two communities being unfairly smeared?

jr565 said...

THe problem with the gun control argument is that there were plenty of laws in place already, and Lanza still got his hands on guns. Gun free zones don't prevent people from getting guns. They prevent those who obey laws from getting guns, and leave guns in the hands of criminals.
THat's not to say that you couldn't strengthen gun laws in certain ways, but really, if people are savvy enough they can go on the internet and buy any guy (or drug) they want and face no laws whatsoever.
Then the people who are law abiding would be at the mercy of criminals who got their hands on guns.
And in the case of this school shooting, doesn't everyone wish that someone, be it a security guard or a teacher had a gun so they could have potentially shot this guy before he killed more kids?
They're honoring the teacher who grabbed the kids in the hallway and pulled them into the classroom and locked the door. BUT, once in there shoe had no defenses other than to cower in a corner with her kids.
If the gun man didn't kill himself and instead went to her classroom she would have been defenseless and more kids would have died.

THe principal of the school tried to wrestle the gun from Lanza's hands and was the first to be shot, but that's not enough either. If she or someone in security had a qun though, it would be an equalizer to Lanza's advantage.

The takeaway then is that more people need to be armed to deal with crazies like this guy.

Writ Small said...

For all Right-leaning commenters now feeling intellectually superior, please read Althouse's thread and poll on the Planned Parenthood "make-up tips" for domestic violence video. Partisan blinders causing stupidity or intellectual dishonesty is hardly unique to the Left.

AF said...

Professor Althouse, I notice you didn't quote my actual point, which was that the analogy is offensive because it assumes that guns are to killing people as gays are to raping boys.

You responded that it's not about guns it's about the gun "community." Bullshit. Guns aren't a community. Guns are inanimate objects. The "gun community" consists of people who oppose the regulation of guns. The defining characteristc of guns is that they are consciously designed to kill. Therefore, the relationship between guns and killing is in any way analogous to the relationship between homosexuality and child rape is fundamentally offensive because it suggests there is some essential connection between homosexuality and pederasty.

Now, it was pointed out to me in the thread that some people may have actually used this analogy without homophobic intentions, instead trying to make the point that just as homosexuality has nothing to do with pederasty, guns have nothing to do with killing people. If so, these people are guilty of making incredibly stupid arguments rather than homophobia.

Matthew Sablan said...

Writ Small: If I recall, most of the comments there were along the lines of bad presentation. I specifically said that I thought Twitchy was yanking on chains with the same faux outrage we see from the left anytime a conservative says, well, pretty much anything.

William said...

I'm an old man and a living link with the past. In the olden days, when leftists wished to argue against gun owners, they claimed that guns were phallic symbols and that the excessive love of guns demonstrated latent homosexuality. Keep oiling and loading that pisstool, big boy. We know what you're really doing....Can we not now claim that excessive fear of gun ownership indicates a streak of homophobia. They don't want to ban guns. We know what they really want to ban.

SGT Ted said...

The point, AF, is that the "gun community" bears the same amount of responsibility for kook shooters that the "gay community" bears for same sex child rapists: none whatsoever.

We hold INDIVIDUALS accountable for their action, not groups of otherwise unrelated people.

Matthew Sablan said...

"The defining characteristc of guns is that they are consciously designed to kill."

-- Stop using scare terms and raw, unfettered, irrational emotionalism, or I'll meet it with the same. For example: I think a woman about to be raped is probably glad she has a tool designed to kill her attacker.

Why do you find it preferable that women be raped than women be able to defend themselves? Guns, even when not used to kill people, have prevented rapes, murders and even lesser crimes. Your narrow, blindered vision is making you come off poorly.

Tim said...

"See, I'm saying -- very sincerely -- that I don't need rhetorical devices explained to me. So of course there's nothing objectionable about these rhetorical devices."

Says one who was objecting strenuously to the homesexuals/gun owners rhetorical device.

Lol.

AF said...

And the law student who asked Justice Scalia whether he sodomized his wife -- totally unoffensive. The student was just making the legitimate rhetorical point that if Justice Scalia believed that sodomy was a legitimate topic of public policy, he should be willing to discuss in public his own experiences with sodomy (or lack thereof).

Matthew Sablan said...

Guns are also, by the way, used in sport and target shooting. Maybe we're just trying to kill that clay pigeon or that silhouette.

wyo sis said...

We're working with a population of people who've been taught that "I feel" statements trump all thought or reason.
Self-esteem drug resistance program actively taught kids to use "I feel" statements in resisting peer pressure. The strategy was that you can't argue with what people "feel" because they are allowed to "feel" any way they want.
The problem is that no one ever bothered to teach them how to make a clear and reasoned argument. What works for 7th graders in a social situation doesn't make much sense in forming public policy.

AF said...

"Says one who was objecting strenuously to the homesexuals/gun owners rhetorical device.

Lol."

Tim I think you missed a reductio ad absurdum argument there.

Matthew Sablan said...

AF: The student's -intent- was to offend. He was taking refuge in audacity, much like a performance artist. His goal was to offend people and be crude. He succeeded. The "legitimate" point by the way is not one: No one ever forces people on the left to talk about embarrassing topics in public to support their point. It is only the right that are asked things like: "Will you adopt every baby not aborted" or "Are you willing to have your kid shoot himself so that we can all have automatic bazookas in our desk drawers?"

Tim said...

SGT Ted said...

"The point, AF, is that the "gun community" bears the same amount of responsibility for kook shooters that the "gay community" bears for same sex child rapists: none whatsoever."

@ SGT Ted, you are right, of course, but give it up.

AF is trolling.

He/she/it is too dishonest and/or too simple-minded to waste this explanation.

It is self-evidently coherent. One gets it, or one does not.

For whatever reason, AF does not, or will not.

Shouting Thomas said...

AF understands Althouse's argument quite well.

He's just an emotional extortionist, demanding that anybody who disagrees with him prove that they are not "homophobic." Gays are sainted, and you'd better genuflect before that altar!

He's quite aware of what he's doing. He wants power.

I see through the ruse, AF. You're not doing good. The con job doesn't work on me.

whoresoftheinternet said...

Yawn.

This was typical leftist distortion.

Take any argument made by an anti-lefty and twist it into something it clearly never meant.

Then repeat. Ad nauseum. Despite being corrected a million times. And the left will nod in unison and believe it.

It's called the Big Lie. That famous socialist, Adolph, perfected it. And the left uses it to this day.

Enjoy the decline, whores!

Matthew Sablan said...

For example, for all the war on women rhetoric lobbed at Republicans about Lily Ledbetter, how often was Obama called on the carpet for not paying his female staff fairly? For running what was called a hostile work environment? Those are equally legitimate points as Scalia's practice of sodomy (and, by the way, those are actually based on factual instances of hypocrisy as opposed to a nosy student trying to offend), yet no one entertains those questions seriously.

Why? Because underneath everything is the assumption of good faith. The people asking the community questions are arguing in good faith; the person trying to enrage Althouse by projecting images of her raped son or annoy Scalia by asking about his bedroom habits, is not arguing in good faith.

This is basic, rhetoric 101 people.

SGT Ted said...

AF is just trying to use emotional bullying to justify his attack on a Constitutional Civil Right.

AF said...

Matthew Sablan: "The 'legitimate' point by the way is not one."

So let me get this straight. If you believe that the rhetorical point ostensibly being made is not a "legitimate" one, and if you believe that the rhetorical device, properly understood, is offensive, you are entitled to be offended by it. Bingo! I couldn't agree more!

jr565 said...

AF wrote:
Professor Althouse, I notice you didn't quote my actual point, which was that the analogy is offensive because it assumes that guns are to killing people as gays are to raping boys.

You responded that it's not about guns it's about the gun "community." Bullshit. Guns aren't a community. Guns are inanimate objects. The "gun community" consists of people who oppose the regulation of guns. The defining characteristc of guns is that they are consciously designed to kill. Therefore, the relationship between guns and killing is in any way analogous to the relationship between homosexuality and child rape is fundamentally offensive because it suggests there is some essential connection between homosexuality and pederasty.

The gun community are the people who own guns. Of those people there are a tiny number who will go out and shoot up a school. Just as there are pederasts in the gay community (and the non gay community), a small number of whom will go out and molest boys (or girls).
If Sandusky used an inanmiate object in the furhterance of his molestation would you suddenly get the comparison?

Matthew Sablan said...

AF: See the point about arguing in good faith. With everything you are saying here (and the student to Scalia asking about sodomy), you are not acting in good faith. You are specifically going out of your way to offend people.

You can make arguments that may be offensive (see the flying spaghetti monster), but if the -intent- is not to be offensive, then it is fair game. Reason and logic are, like politics, not bean bag.

But, deliberate cheap shots, like rape fantasies, are a clear sign you're not here to argue, but to incite.

garage mahal said...

I love how Garage got singled out in that post on instapundit for being an idiot.

For something I didn't even say or argue.

Shouting Thomas said...

AF, you're a liar.

Just about every word you've typed here is a lie.

The only question is... What is your motivation for lying?

I've outlined it above. See above.

Power.

AF said...

"But, deliberate cheap shots, like rape fantasies, are a clear sign you're not here to argue, but to incite."

No, I was addressing the absurd point that one should not take offense at rhetorical devices. If you actually believe that, you shouldn't take offensive at the the outrageous comment I made. But of course, nobody actually believes that because it's bullshit.

My comment was a reductio ad absurdum of Althouse's defense of reductio ad absurdum.

Bob Ellison said...

AF, you're providing a window into the soul of something I don't understand. Something that lacks subtlety and compassion in argument. Please keep writing.

Jay said...

AF said...

Jay, you seem to have trouble with reductio ad absurdum arguments.


I'm not the one here whining and stamping my feet.

You are.

You're quite the ass.

Keep going.

Matthew Sablan said...

No, AF. Your comment was childish acting out. There's a difference. It is OK to be wrong; rape fantasies are over the line.

jr565 said...

Shane explained to Marian in the old movie:
A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that.


Who ended up dealing with Jack Palance's gunfighter(who wielded a gun). Shane. And how did he deal with Jack Palance? With a gun.

If not, what would have happened. Marian's husband would have been killed.

edutcher said...

Jay's right, pretty much.

40 years of educational dumbing down makes Princeton less intellectually challenging than a 1 room country schoolhouse 100 years ago.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Here's way to handle the person who starts a debate by saying they are offended.

"OK, you're offended. What else you got?"


My fave is, "I'm glad we all voted".

Not only do I not care what you think, I also don't care you're "offended".

wyo sis said...

AF
I "feel" really angry at you right now.

Bob Ellison said...

And garage mahal, I think you did, unless you're meta-subtle on a level that none of us can understand. You surprised me there.

If you're meta-subtle and meta-sarcastic, then you should try to write in a more obvious fashion for us stupid people.

jr565 said...

AF read this point from Scalia again, since you dont seem to grok it.

The question in Lawrence was whether morality feeling, standing alone, is enough to support a law. If the majority was saying no, then it needed to commit to that proposition across the board, and I was testing that, and a test really does need to be sharp and probing.


Is that a universal argument? The way it was posited suggested that it is. Therefore, how can you not bring bestiality and stuff like it into the mix? It's the same principal in both cases. Does it hold true for both cases?
And before you answer let it be known that if you go to Hong Kong you can go to a restaurant where you can have sex with your dinner.

http://www.bestuncensored.com/articles/2007/09/17/new-restaurant-lets-you-pork-your-pork/

Big Mike said...

AT the time I thought Scalia was making a perfectly reasonable point. In the 19th century "he needed killing" was a valid, if risky, defense to a charge of homicide. (Risky because the jury might think you're the one who needs killing and then you're going to be hanged. Valid because if the jury agreed with you, you were quite apt to be allowed to go free with handshakes all around.)

In the 19th century male homosexuals were assumed to all be pederdasts. We know more these days. On the other hand, few 21st century male homosexuals realize the damage that men like Sandusky do to move us backwards to the 19th century. Sitting around typing "you don't get it" and "this entire argument is disgusting" only means that you don't get it, or appreciate the damage done to your cause.

AF said...

"No, AF. Your comment was childish acting out. There's a difference. It is OK to be wrong; rape fantasies are over the line."

It was an outrageous comment. My goal was to create a rhetorical device that anyone would recognize as offensive, in order to make the point that rhetorical devices can be offensive if they betray objectionable attitudes or sensibilities -- even if the literal point they are making is unobjectionable.

Judging by all the people who are objecting to my perceived attitude and sensibility, I successfully made the point. Please recognize that I had essentially the same objection to Scalia's and Professor Reynolds' rhetorical devices.

Matthew Sablan said...

AF: Scalia and Reynolds were arguing in good faith. You just admitted your goal was to offend people (you tried to polish it up with a bunch of other words, but, basically: You wanted to hurt people to make them agree with you.)

Deal with your issues like an adult, not a spoiled child.

EFB said...

I think it would've been easier for the student to argue on a less emotional level if he weren't gay himself.

Marshal said...

The key to understanding AF is his subtle but important refacting:

He claims the gun community for purposes of this analogy is a political community rather than a gun ownership community, because his argument requires that to support his distinction. Otherwise there would be no link to the public policy debate he's pushing.

He claims the comparison is about guns generically killing rather than murdering children because the latter is so clearly not the intent of the community and therfore a more appropriate analogy.

Maybe these are conscious decisions or maybe he's just thinking the way he was taught, but either way he's managing the facts to suit the needs of his political theater.

Big Mike said...

Oh, and the "gun community" does exist. It includes people who own guns because they compete in shooting events. It includes people who hunt for sport. It includes people who have to hunt to feed their families (note to AF and the rest of the crazies -- not everyone lives in an inner city where where they can take their family down to a church-run or community soup kitchen). It includes people who keep guns for protection because they live in a very rural area where they might have to confront bears, mountain lions, or -- thanks to reintroduction -- wolf packs, not to mention poisonous snakes. In rural areas and in urban areas alike, people feel the need to have guns for personal protection against armed two-legged predators. That's the gun community you are snarking on.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Sablan: Your wife is screwing 12-year-olds behind the mini mart."

Not married. Try again?

Bob Ellison said...

This question is increasingly interesting, especially with the comments above. Scalia referred to behaviors in abstract form, and some commenters above have compared them to very specific acts.

I wonder whether lefties tend not to understand the difference there. Abstract descriptions of crimes, takings, and offenses are different from the actual incidents of them: no-knock raids, taxes and declarations of eminent domain, and statutes that require removal of religious expression, in rough order by example. Then to say "I took out my gun and shot this actual puppy named Cutie" and post a picture of the crime is very specific.

This might be why lefties don't understand the rightie arguments against the lefty knee-jerk response about gun-control in response to the Connecticut murders. Lefties tend to think in terms of groups and group-identity, and tend to dismiss individual autonomy. If I were a psychologist, I'd be tempted to study this as a mental disease.

AF said...

"AF: Scalia and Reynolds were arguing in good faith. You just admitted your goal was to offend people (you tried to polish it up with a bunch of other words, but, basically: You wanted to hurt people to make them agree with you.)"

Matthew, if I hurt your feelings, I apologize. But I don't think invoking "good faith" get you very far here. Perceptions of good faith differ; attributing good or bad faith is not going to resolve any disagreements or clarify any issues. Furthermore, even arguments made in good faith can betray objectionable prejudices. I happen to think that Scalia is arguing in good faith but betraying prejudice, whereas Reynolds is not arguing in good faith. But I don't know their subjective intentions and who cares anyway? All I can do is address their arguments. And their arguments are based on extremely faulty analogies that betray homophobia, or bad faith, or stupidity, or some combination thereof. Take your pick.

As for my subjective intentions, I didn't think anyone was actually going to be offended by an outrageous comment by an anonymous Internet commenter. I thought that they would recognize my comment as offensive, and that this would make my point that rhetorical devices can be offensive.

Now, should I have come up with something other than rape? Yes I should have and for that I apologize (though I can't help noting that my need to apologize makes my point further). I didn't want the comment to be directed at Althouse herself because that would be misogynist. But I should have come up with something other than rape. Sorry.

bagoh20 said...

"Rhetorical device"? Wait!, Slow down Professor. I'm still looking up the definition of "rhetorical". I found "device" it included the example of a dildo, and apparently "rhetorical" means something like persuade, or motivate using words. So I'm figuring it's a kind of "verbal dildo" thing...... Oh my, I had no idea that's what it was for. Yea, I'm glad I know now, and I see what happened to a few people yesterday. That's embarrassing.

Sofa King said...


This might be why lefties don't understand the rightie arguments against the lefty knee-jerk response about gun-control in response to the Connecticut murders. Lefties tend to think in terms of groups and group-identity, and tend to dismiss individual autonomy. If I were a psychologist, I'd be tempted to study this as a mental disease.


I really am beginning to seriously wonder if some lefties truly do not understand the concept of "principles."

Nathan Alexander said...

Logical Incoherence is a huge part of the Liberal Philosophical Foundation.

SPImmortal said...

Matthew, if I hurt your feelings, I apologize. But I don't think invoking "good faith" get you very far here. Perceptions of good faith differ; attributing good or bad faith is not going to resolve any disagreements or clarify any issues. Furthermore, even arguments made in good faith can betray objectionable prejudices. I happen to think that Scalia is arguing in good faith but betraying prejudice, whereas Reynolds is not arguing in good faith. But I don't know their subjective intentions and who cares anyway? All I can do is address their arguments. And their arguments are based on extremely faulty analogies that betray homophobia, or bad faith, or stupidity, or some combination thereof. Take your pick.

------------------

How many words can one person write about not getting it?

SPImmortal said...

If it was good faith argumentation, and there was no bigotry intended in this continual negative homosexual references, you wouldn't take as a starting point that homosexual = pederast.

Hell, even Palladian pointed that out, and it's hard to get him motivated to talk against your team.

----------------

Right homosexual=pederast and gun owner=murderer.

Take the next step...

Nathan Alexander said...

AF,
The only reason you don't get Instapundit's rhetorical comparison is because your assumptions are wrong.

The point of the analogy was to highlight these truths:
1) The gun community is not responsible for a murderer who uses a gun to carry out his plans.

2) guns are tools that can be used to kill, but also to defend.

But you are so impervious to logic and reason, that the attempt to make you think causes you to feel offended.

Meaning, you are only offended because you cannot understand basic truths about guns.

You should stop blaming other people for your own shortcomings. That will come with maturity, i.e., when you stop being a liberal.

SPImmortal said...

See that's what's also illogical. Thinking that gays = liberals = gun prohibitors, and using the gays continually as the leftist foil.

I'm not for gun confiscation, and I'm not for comparing homos to pederasts. Why do you think the gun rights people and the gay rights people are necessarily on opposing teams?

Oh yeah. Your stereotypical ignorance! hahah

---------------------

Lol whut? Nobody is saying gays are gun grabbers or using them as a leftist foil or anything of the sort.

Jesus you are fucking stupid. You need some serious practice with critical thinking.

bagoh20 said...

The best part is when the fool doubles down over and over, because they can't admit a mistake. I have learned to admit mine early and often. When you step in crap, just take off the shoe, don't walk around like that.

SPImmortal said...

e more scared they are, the more they need a handy scapegoat to beat. The gays were always handy for that, so you play them as the gun banners, toss in Sandusky as representative of the gay community like the NRA represents gun rights, and then make the implicit link of homosexuals to pederasts with the NAMBLA references.

--------------------------

lol what r u on about?

EMD said...

The more scared they are, the more they need a handy scapegoat to beat. The gays were always handy for that, so you play them as the gun banners, toss in Sandusky as representative of the gay community like the NRA represents gun rights, and then make the implicit link of homosexuals to pederasts with the NAMBLA references.

Nailed it!

AF said...

Nathan,

As I've said several times, I understand that that was the point of the analogy. I believe that it is an extremely faulty point. I agree that gun owners are not responsible for murder and that guns have lots of legitimate uses. No question. The fact remains that guns bear an essential relationship to killing people: that's what they're designed to do (particularly assault weapons). So to draw the analogy between guns/killing and homosexuals/pederasty is either to deny the essential relationship between guns and killing, which is just stupid no matter what your position on gun control, or to posit an essential relationship between homosexuality and pederasty, which is offensive.

SPImmortal said...

Haha -- don't namecall. It just shows you don't get my clever joke!

But you're not doing what Scalia did. YOu're just saying things about peoples moms. (and not cleverly). And yet you're sugggseting that that is what Scalia has done.

----------------------------

She doesn't know anything about Scalia or seem to be able to untangle any sort of even mildly complex arguement.

She's just having a meltdown.

Matthew Sablan said...

Well. This spiraled out of control beautifully quick.

SPImmortal said...

So to draw the analogy between guns/killing and homosexuals/pederasty is either to deny the essential relationship between guns and killing, which is just stupid no matter what your position on gun control, or to posit an essential relationship between homosexuality and pederasty, which is offensive.

------------------

No, the analogy is between gun rights/killing and homosexuals/pederasty.

Get it now?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

"Cabin", for example. Who says that?!

Gay conservatives.

Jay said...

to posit an essential relationship between homosexuality and pederasty, which is offensive.


Too bad for you uncomfortable facts are "offensive"

Of course you're an idiot.

So there is that.

SPImmortal said...

Tell me again where you earned your law degree, your experience in the field, and how you know so many intimate facts about what homosexuals do and with whom.

What kinda magazines you reading, anyway? Cmon fellas... don't get scared and negative. It's all in good fun, no?

--------------------

If you're going to try and get my goat, you're gonna need to do way better than that.

And no one goes to magazines anymore for porn, you doddering old fart.

Dante said...

There are some very smart people who think about how to shape dialogue. It starts by making important topics sensitive to talk about, thereby polarizing people. ST, for instance, gets pummeled about AIDs for pointing out homosexuals spread it to the point it is endemic in the US. Then there are the new rhetorical devices that are used to prove things. In Scalia's case, a list of things that are similar becomes a list of things that are the same.

These people who create these sensitivities are evil. They use the power of social mores to emotionally and socially pummel those who simply express facts.

Let's face it. The dishonest smart people, and the follower stupid people are taking over the country, and nothing can stop it.

Jay said...

So if men who want to sleep with boys are not homosexual, please tell us which sexual oriention they belong to, AF?

Marshal said...

AF:
The fact remains that guns bear an essential relationship to killing people: that's what they're designed to do (particularly assault weapons).


Note how AF's argument requires the switch from mass child murder to merely killing people. Without it he cannot reach his conclusion.

Assault weapons are not made for child mass murder, just as gay sex does not require it be with a child. It is normal and acceptable to have gay sex and to own guns, it is targeting children that is out of line.

AF said...

"Note how AF's argument requires the switch from mass child murder to merely killing people. Without it he cannot reach his conclusion.

Assault weapons are not made for child mass murder, just as gay sex does not require it be with a child. It is normal and acceptable to have gay sex and to own guns, it is targeting children that is out of line."

Marshal -- So if Glenn Reynolds had made his comment about the Aurora shooting, you'd agree with my criticism?

AF said...

"So if men who want to sleep with boys are not homosexual, please tell us which sexual oriention they belong to, AF?"

Thank you for making my point.

Jay said...

AF said...

Thank you for making my point.


You don't have a fucking point.

Want to guess why you didn't answer the question?

jr565 said...

Ok, supppose the discussion Scalia was adressing was bestiality and he made the argument:
State laws against bigamy, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, , and obscenity are... sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.

Would those arguing that he was someone offensive then understand the point? (I'm leaving out all the references to gayness). He's arguing a logical principle not the morality of each thing in turn. In fact he's lumping in instances where society applies morality to things of a personal but sexual nature and asking, does the stipulated argument hold water? In his mind it doesn't. If you remove the gayness argument from the equation are you then able to understand the point?

creeley23 said...

When I was a kid I took a "which item is out of place" test and one question offered the group: apple, orange, banana and potato.

I picked orange because it contained bright-colored juicy pulp while the others contained a whitish solid.

Of course, the "right" answer is potato because it's a vegetable and all the others are fruits.

Now I could have gotten stubborn and insisted, no, it has to be about the white stuff inside, but I saw immediately what they were getting at and laughed at myself.

I avoided getting creative on those tests in the future and did very well.

jr565 said...

Oh please.

Humor = harmless.
Stop your bitching.

Except INstapundit wasn't JOKING.

AF said...

creeley:

If the group was the gun community, the homosexual community, the black community, and the white community, which of those would you choose as not being like the other?

Nathan Alexander said...

@AF,
you said:
The fact remains that guns bear an essential relationship to killing people: that's what they're designed to do (particularly assault weapons).

See?
Wrong assumption.

There are many things that kill people better than guns do.

So what are penises designed to do? Do you dare to investigate that road? I don't think your worldview would survive it...

jr565 said...

It's really annoying to have to explain logic to people, but in this case, I think Althouse actually does a good job of paraphrasing Scalias argument:
The question in Lawrence was whether morality feeling, standing alone, is enough to support a law. If the majority was saying no, then it needed to commit to that proposition across the board, and I was testing that, and a test really does need to be sharp and probing. I get that it pains you, but step up and argue with me. Tell me why bestiality is different from the other things on the morality-only list.

Please address the last sentence in particular. (and if you want, replace bestiality wiht incest,or pederasty or whatever you want).

AF said...

So what are penises designed to do? Do you dare to investigate that road? I don't think your worldview would survive it...

Apparently in Glenn Reynolds' view, gay penises are designed to make their owners fondle young boys. But they have other legitimate uses, and law-abiding gay men would never do that.

SPImmortal said...

Apparently in Glenn Reynolds' view, gay penises are designed to make their owners fondle young boys. But they have other legitimate uses, and law-abiding gay men would never do that.

------------------

You know that's not his view.

You were just talking about how the absurdist argument was insulting and now you're pretending it wasn't absurdist but sincere.

Pretty lame.

Nathan Alexander said...

@AF,
Here's a hint:
Guns are not designed to kill people.

Guns are designed to hurl a small mass at a great rate of speed. Various types of guns may be optimized for certain aspects, such as the amount of velocity imparted to the target at impact, or penetration of target, or ability to send multiple masses in succession without damaging the equipment or having to reset the equipment.

There are other devices that can do the same thing, optimized for different parameters, like:
slingshots, bows, crossbows, blowguns, etc.

I used a gun to install hardwood floors a while back. Didn't kill a single person while doing it.

So: can you accept that guns are not specifically designed to kill people?

You said that you can understand there are other uses of guns, but if you insist guns are just designed to kill people, you are betraying your own statement, and you don't understand the legitimate uses for firearms.

Nathan Alexander said...

Apparently in Glenn Reynolds' view, gay penises are designed to make their owners fondle young boys. But they have other legitimate uses, and law-abiding gay men would never do that.

Ah, you aren't willing to actually face up to facts yet.

And here I thought you actually wanted a serious discussion, instead of just disseminating propaganda.

AF said...

"So: can you accept that guns are not specifically designed to kill people?"

Depends on the gun. The ones people are complaining about are the ones designed to kill people.

Sofa King said...

Depends on the gun. The ones people are complaining about are the ones designed to kill people.


And? Killing people is not necessarily wrong; it is sometimes necessary and proper. *Murdering* innocent people is wrong, but guns are not specifically designed for *murder*, the wrong and criminal form of killing.

SPImmortal said...

"So: can you accept that guns are not specifically designed to kill people?"

Depends on the gun. The ones people are complaining about are the ones designed to kill people.

------------------------

The primary purpose of a gun in our society is as a force deterrent.

Is it designed to project lethal force? Yes.

But that is just a necessary function of its primary aim, which is to deter violence and killing.

Marshal said...

AF said...

Marshal -- So if Glenn Reynolds had made his comment about the Aurora shooting, you'd agree with my criticism?


No, for two reasons:

1. Guns aren't made expressly for killing people as your argument would then rely on. They're made for hunting and defending yourself, and only in a tiny fraction of cases is a person killed. The magnitude of your refacting would be less in that case but still significant. The obviousness of this circumstance is merely useful to highlight your tactic.

2. Your argument still relies on inappropriately defining the gun community as a political organization in order to normalize political activity as a response.

Jay said...

AF said...


Depends on the gun. The ones people are complaining about are the ones designed to kill people.


You're a fucking idiot.

You have no clue which guns were used, what models they are and the corresponding firepower, and what that means.

Marshal said...

AF said...
So what are penises designed to do? Do you dare to investigate that road? I don't think your worldview would survive it...

Apparently in Glenn Reynolds' view, gay penises are designed to make their owners fondle young boys. But they have other legitimate uses, and law-abiding gay men would never do that.


If you want to understand the analogy, penises are designed for sex. Only when sex is targeted at children does it become a problem. This is similar to a gun being designed for self defense, and only becoming a problem when instead used for murder.

Pastafarian said...

AF: "Apparently in Glenn Reynolds' view, gay penises are designed to make their owners fondle young boys."

Isn't that like saying that guns are designed to make their owners shoot up elementary schools?

The original analogy (homosexuality:Sandusky::firearms users:Lanza) seems pretty inoffensive and logical to me, and all of your thrashing around has just made it look better.

jr565 said...

AF wrote:
Depends on the gun. The ones people are complaining about are the ones designed to kill people.

Guns are designed to be fired. They could be fired at people, animals or at firing ranges or other inanimate objects, or they can sit on a shelf somewhere and look shiny. OF all the millions of assault rifles sold how many are actually used in crimes?
Cars are involved in hit and runs all the time. You could run people over with cars and kill htem. YOu could run other cars off the road, you could run over old people for points, you could put a bomb in a car and plant it in front of a federal building. Or you could use it to drive to and from the grocery story.
Maybe we should start talking about banning of certain types of cars.

creeley23 said...

If the group was the gun community, the homosexual community, the black community, and the white community, which of those would you choose as not being like the other?

AF: If a 2012 liberal, like yourself, designed the test, I would obviously choose "gun community." If a 1950 mainstream American designed the test, I would choose "homosexual community."

With a little work I could come up with rationales for the other two items.

But Reynolds choose an example in which the overriding similarity he was emphaszing was the structural similarity of the arguments, not the constituents of the arguments. That was what he meant and his intention was the opposite of homophobic.

Yet you kept calling his example dishonest and homophobic.

If someone doesn't want to get a joke they can always find a way to not get a joke. Jokes aren't equations that have inevitable solutions.

Analogies are like that too.

I can't tell if you got Reynolds' joke at first or after it was explained to you 57 times. Or maybe you still don't.

Nathan Alexander said...

Depends on the gun. The ones people are complaining about are the ones designed to kill people.

No such guns were used in any massacre in the US, ever.

The Allies did design guns specifically to kill people back in WWII:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FP-45_Liberator

Everything else in the war was designed for suppression fire as much or more than lethality.

The Bushmaster that what's his name used at Sandy Hook was designed for varmint/target shooting, not people.

Had it been designed to kill people, it would have had a much higher caliber.

So again, your assumptions are way off.

jr565 said...

But Reynolds choose an example in which the overriding similarity he was emphaszing was the structural similarity of the arguments, not the constituents of the arguments. That was what he meant and his intention was the opposite of homophobic.


Yes. Why is this so hard to grasp for people like AF?

Nathan Alexander said...

AF,
The Barrett .50 sniper rifle could be described as being designed to kill people...but I'd argue that its anti-materiel capability is as much part of the original design of the bullet.

But I haven't heard of the Barrett being used in a murder yet.

Have you?

So you need to explain why guns the Sandy Hook murderer used were designed solely for killing people, or admit you are wrong.

That's where your assumptions started going off the rails, fwiw.

SPImmortal said...

When someone buys a gun for personal protection, they are buying a deterrent. The fact that it can be used to kill if absolutely necessary is secondary.

In the world of human interactions threats and force must be met with the same.

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nathan Alexander said...

And to answer my own question for you:

A penis is designed for dual purposes:
1) elimination of liquid waste
2) delivery of essential fluid for reproduction. A closely related function delivers stimulation to the owner brain's pleasure centers. It is designed specifically to fit inside a woman's reproduction organ.

Much more specifically designed than a gun, no?



Tim said...

If one believes stupidity and ignorance are accidental conditions rather than willful choices, one not go any further than this string of commentary to be quickly disabused of this belief.

DADvocate said...

Maybe he's simply pretending to be dull and doing the Theater of Outrage.

Maybe, but it's looking less and less like it. A comment Instapundit made in an update on this applies well here: Their hatred has overwhelmed whatever reason they possess. Which, on the evidence, was never that much.

AF said...

So my earlier, incredibly outrageous comment was (appropriately) deleted.

The incredibly outrageous comment was in the form "I don't need rhetorical devices explained to me any more than [incredibly outrageous statement]."

The point being that since I was saying that I didn't need rhetorical devices explained to me, the.strict, logical meaning of my analogy was to negate the incredibly outrageous statement. So if you believe that rhetorical devices can't be offensive if the strict, logical meaning isn't offensive, you shouldn't be offended by my analogy.

Of course, this was a reductio ad absurdum argument. As I later explained:

It was an outrageous comment. My goal was to create a rhetorical device that anyone would recognize as offensive, in order to make the point that rhetorical devices can be offensive if they betray objectionable attitudes or sensibilities -- even if the literal point they are making is unobjectionable.

Judging by all the people who are objecting to my perceived attitude and sensibility, I successfully made the point. Please recognize that I had essentially the same objection to Scalia's and Professor Reynolds' rhetorical devices.

I apologize for the original comment. Given that rhetorical devices can be offensive even if their literal meaning is not offensive, my comment was offensive. I should have chosen a more appropriate way to make the point. I'm not sure, however, if I could have chosen a more effective way to make it.

Paco Wové said...

AF appears to be a gunophobe, or at least an analogophobe.

Paco Wové said...

AF - nobody but you seems to think you have been very effective here. Frankly, you mostly just sound freaked out by guns.

AF said...

"AF - nobody but you seems to think you have been very effective here."

Well, people got pretty offended by my not-literally-offensive analogy, including Althouse. And rightly so!

jr565 said...

AF wrote:
The point being that since I was saying that I didn't need rhetorical devices explained to me, the.strict, logical meaning of my analogy was to negate the incredibly outrageous statement. So if you believe that rhetorical devices can't be offensive if the strict, logical meaning isn't offensive, you shouldn't be offended by my analogy.

Of course, this was a reductio ad absurdum argument. As I later explained:

It was an outrageous comment. My goal was to create a rhetorical device that anyone would recognize as offensive, in order to make the point that rhetorical devices can be offensive if they betray objectionable attitudes or sensibilities -- even if the literal point they are making is unobjectionable.

Judging by all the people who are objecting to my perceived attitude and sensibility, I successfully made the point. Please recognize that I had essentially the same objection to Scalia's and Professor Reynolds' rhetorical devices.


It wasn't Reynolds analogy. And if you read it critically you'll note that he is saying that the analogy when applied to guns AND gays is equally ridiculous.
It wasn't meant to offend anyone only point out absurdity of the logic.
THe problem you have is that you seem to buy the argument made when it comes to the gun community, yet find it offensive when that same scurillous logic is applied to your community. But, you're the one engaging in scurrilous arguments.

Beach Brutus said...

Any lawyer or law student should recognize that reductio ad absurdum is a major component of the Socratic Method. Scalia was just playing professor to his students on the Court.

SPImmortal said...

"AF - nobody but you seems to think you have been very effective here."

Well, people got pretty offended by my not-literally-offensive analogy, including Althouse. And rightly so!

----------------

Althouse has exactly one post in this thread which does not even address your lame attempt to be shocking and make people recoil in I'm-so-offended horror.

Try again.

Beach Brutus said...

Any lawyer or law student should recognize that reductio ad absurdum is a major component of the Socratic Method. Scalia was just playing professor to his students on the Court.

AF said...

"AF: If a 2012 liberal, like yourself, designed the test, I would obviously choose "gun community." If a 1950 mainstream American designed the test, I would choose "homosexual community."

What if you were designing it, creeley? Let's say your it was your colleague's (me!) job to write the question and your job to identify the correct answer. Which would you choose?

Sofa King said...

It was an outrageous comment. My goal was to create a rhetorical device that anyone would recognize as offensive, in order to make the point that rhetorical devices can be offensive if they betray objectionable attitudes or sensibilities -- even if the literal point they are making is unobjectionable.

I'm not sure why you thought this was an important point to make. Nobody doubted that you found statements can be offensive. What you have not explained very well is *why* you find it so offensive.

AF said...

Althouse has exactly one post in this thread which does not even address your lame attempt to be shocking and make people recoil in I'm-so-offended horror.

Try again.


She deleted my comment and I agree with her decision.


SPImmortal said...

It wasn't Reynolds analogy. And if you read it critically you'll note that he is saying that the analogy when applied to guns AND gays is equally ridiculous.
It wasn't meant to offend anyone only point out absurdity of the logic.
THe problem you have is that you seem to buy the argument made when it comes to the gun community, yet find it offensive when that same scurillous logic is applied to your community. But, you're the one engaging in scurrilous arguments.

----------------------

I disagree. It is meant to generate an emotional offense.

But then the person should reflect and realize how both ideas are offensive.

SPImmortal said...

It wasn't funny whatever you want to call it... And here althouse and reynolds and some commenters were squealing at the joke like a 10-year-old porked for the first time by a big heterosexually married white coach.

Cheap trash, designed to keep the "leftie" gays in their place... YOu object to the characterization as framed, you're just too dumb to get the joke.

------------------

It wasn't supposed to be funny. The funny was how Reynolds and Anne new it would get the right crowd in a dander.

But then it was supposed to make you think. You haven't gotten there yet.

SPImmortal said...

I think his arguments and yesterday were quite effective. Too bad you couldn't see the premised false set up, or that you're laughing at little raped boys.

Be proud, men.
Hold your heads high!

--------------------

Correction, little boys raped by a gay man.

tee hee

jr565 said...

AF wrote:
Judging by all the people who are objecting to my perceived attitude and sensibility, I successfully made the point. Please recognize that I had essentially the same objection to Scalia's and Professor Reynolds' rhetorical devices.


What was objectionable about Scalia's argument?
To break it down. Lets say that someone wants something legal. We'll call that position X. And the reason given that morality can hold no sway over laws passed concerning behavior. X could be anything. If you apply other variable to X does it still hold true logically?
For eaxmple, Bestiality. The argument then is not to compare two things, except insofar as to test the validity of the argument.
Now the student in question asked Scalia why he equated gay sex with murder and bestiality.
Right there though I'll note that the student linked bestiality to murder. In addition to essentially proving Scalia right in his logic, he also reveals himself to be equally judgemental of other peoples behavior. Why is the linking of bestiality to murder not equally offensive?

SPImmortal said...

Are you literate man? It was a joke against the left, and dontchaknow, everyone in the homosexual pederast community is on the left, we're the ones shouting loudest to ban guns.

We're still your scapegoated enemy, even when it has nothing to do with a gay issue, but a gun issue...

I wonder why that is? Why not pick on some group that is equal to you under the law at least?

----------------------

We "pick on you" to show you how unfair it is for gun rights advocates to shaded as accessories to murder.

The left is always using emotional appeals, so Reynolds made you feel what it was like on the receiving end of an thickheaded emotional play. It's turnabout.

Now that you've gotten a taste of it, what do you think?

SPImmortal said...

Oh own it. He "found" it on facebook, chuckled so hard he had to share. And annie took the bait and ran...

Please describe to us what you think the joke INstapundit was telling actually was. What's the punchline? Also, please deconstruct the sentence he linked to and give us your interpretation as to what it means. Because it sounds like you're not getting the gist.It's going right over your head.
Perhaps if you explain what you think you're reading we can then explain how we disagree (or agree) with your interpretation.

There's something happening, but you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones

------------------

The punchline for us is we have the fun of hitting you with your own rhetorical weapons.

The punchline for you is you melt down and perhaps there is a glimmer of a chance that you'll realise how nasty that sort of argument can be.

SPImmortal said...

y does Reynolds think that pissing off gays who resent being linked to the married hetero pederast Sandusky is going to help him in his quest to keep his Bushmast gun toys?

Why does that Joke assume that queers and pederasts are the ones calling for disarming in wake of Newtown? Aren't queer folk the most vulnerable, given that the laws, the law professors, and so many of you old men are against them?

Bang, bang on the back door, indeed.

--------------------------

Gays aren't the target, you're the target, you and the whole outrage industry. And it worked because you're melting down.

Maybe you'll gain some insight. But if not, it was fun to piss you off.

SPImmortal said...

and there it is: laughing at the married white coach breaking all the lil fuckers in, eh?

tee hee hee.
*screeeeeeaaaaaaammmm. Stop and the tears too*

Funny stuff that.

-------------------

Gay men get married all the time, it's called a beard. Man you are really worked up over this.

tee hee

SPImmortal said...

"But if not, it was fun to piss you off."

Come closer and say that.
I'd like to piss all over that pretty face of yours, boy.

Sharing the fun this holiday season and all!

-------------------

Laughter will make the pain go away...

SPImmortal said...

"And it worked because you're melting down."

I'm just pushing back, punching harder, longer and coming back for more.

You're the squealing in glee with the raped kids now. hahah... so funny I forgot to laugh.

-----------------

"punch back twice as hard" -- Barack Obama, married to a manly looking beard.

SPImmortal said...

"Gay men get married all the time, it's called a beard. Man you are really worked up over this."

You saying these married and widowed guys here all like to rape little boys? Man, that's deep. Didn't know your homosexual pederast community extended so far on the blog.

Does Reynolds recruit little boys, and does this explain why dr. helen always seems so disappointed in men?

--------------------

You're trying way too hard.

Sandusky was gay.

SPImmortal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LTMG said...

From Jacob Sullum, " ...outrage is no substitute for rational argument,..."

lawyapalooza said...

Scalia's anti-gay views are hardly rhetoric. Look back at any of his decisions or dissents, and he routinely does things like put "sexual orientation" or "homosexual" in quotes. He actively belittles any kind of argument in support of gays (no matter the legal issue) in a way he does not do in other cases. Yes, he thinks extremely highly of himself, and loves to rankle people without regard for the fact that his decisions actually impact real human beings rather than theoretical concepts argued by law professors. But he reserves special animous for homosexuals.

jr565 said...

and loves to rankle people without regard for the fact that his decisions actually impact real human beings rather than theoretical concepts argued by law professors. But he reserves special animous for homosexuals.


His decisions would also impact real people when it came to questions about bestiality or incest. Does the student who was offended that Scalia linked gayness to murder and bestiality not get that?

SPImmortal said...

Scalia's anti-gay views are hardly rhetoric. Look back at any of his decisions or dissents, and he routinely does things like put "sexual orientation" or "homosexual" in quotes. He actively belittles any kind of argument in support of gays (no matter the legal issue) in a way he does not do in other cases. Yes, he thinks extremely highly of himself, and loves to rankle people without regard for the fact that his decisions actually impact real human beings rather than theoretical concepts argued by law professors. But he reserves special animous for homosexuals.

-------------------

So what is the evidence that "sexual orientation" is a real, immutable thing rather than a manifestation of deep rooted psychological problems?

Scalia has the sharpest mind on the supreme court and I'm sure that he would follow the evidence if it was forthcoming. As would plenty of other people.

AF said...

"Glenn's response where he expalains his logic."

Understood. In my view, the people sharing these comments on facebook are homophobic (note the tell-word "homosexual community" rather than "gay community"), and that's who I was referring to in my comments. Note that my very first comment is "bigots" plural.

I don't think Reynolds and Althouse are consciously homophobic, but they were approvingly sharing homophobic comments.

Matthew Sablan said...

Ah, alleging people of thought crimes.

SPImmortal said...

"Glenn's response where he expalains his logic."

Understood. In my view, the people sharing these comments on facebook are homophobic (note the tell-word "homosexual community" rather than "gay community"), and that's who I was referring to in my comments. Note that my very first comment is "bigots" plural.

I don't think Reynolds and Althouse are consciously homophobic, but they were approvingly sharing homophobic comments.

----------------

If it is bigoted as you describe then it is even more fitting, no?

Compare and absurd bigoted comment, made in jest or otherwise, to another one. That's how it works.

chickelit said...

Come closer and say that.
I'd like to piss all over that pretty face of yours, boy.


Everyone knows women can't aim. Remember that woman who tried to piss on a painting? Althouse blogged it once.

AF said...

"Ah, alleging people of thought crimes."

I'm not "alleging" anyone of a crime, Matthew. I'm interpreting their statements. If I recall, it's you who argued that I should take into account subjective intent.

Matthew Sablan said...

There's a difference between interpreting something and simply calling people homophobes; which circles back to how you don't argue in good faith.

AF said...

"There's a difference between interpreting something and simply calling people homophobes; which circles back to how you don't argue in good faith."

Well, I've explained repeatedly why I consider the comment to be homophobic. I've also explained why I think throwing around accusations of bad faith is unhelpful. It's faith-based argument. I prefer reason.

jr565 said...

AF wrote:

Well, I've explained repeatedly why I consider the comment to be homophobic. I've also explained why I think throwing around accusations of bad faith is unhelpful. It's faith-based argument. I prefer reason.

except pointing out logic that is bigoted as an example of bad logic is not exactly endorsing the position. Hence, instapundit a position is actually not homophobic.
If Reynolds instead posted an argument about how we SHOULD hold gays accountable for Penn State and used the exampleof how we should hold gun owners accountable for this shooting it would be an example of him agreeing with the result, and hence homophobia (and similarly demonizing gun owners for the actions of a lone wacko). But the two results are the complete opposite even though he'd be using the same examples.

Rusty said...


except pointing out logic that is bigoted as an example of bad logic

It may not be PC logic , but it's hardly bad logic.

Tim said...

"I prefer reason."

You doth protest too much.

Much too much.

jr565 said...



How bout some bigger targets?

All Jews to bloodletters?
All East Coasters to childkillers?
All chicks to whores and bitches?
All white guys to pig fodder?

Cmon, let's get that dark humor a bit darker, and aim for bigger targets, eh? Raped little boys, and homosexuals with few legal rights just ain't cutting it in the funny dept here.


Well what would Reynolds be arguing with these other examples? That all Jews are blood letters or that it would be absurd to argue that all Jews are blood letters.
If he used any of the examples you'd prefer him to use it would be to refute the argument not endorse it.

Roger J. said...

Wow--the last couple of threads on this particular topic have rapidly degenerated into a morass of name calling. I draw absolutely no conclusions. Just an observation.

On a slightly different note, I did see up thread the assertion about guns being designed to kill people--There is clearly one weapon I can site that was specifically designed to kill people: The M1911 colt army pistol. In fact, I would suggest that most military arms are specifically designed to kill people.

Nathan Alexander said...

@Roger J.
Wrong.

The Colt 1911 .45 was not tested/accepted based on its ability to kill humans.

No tests of its killing capability were included at all in the competition for which pistol would be adopted by the US Army.

Roger J. said...

Nathan--of course the 45 was not tested on humans--but it was tested extensively on its ability to kill steers bought by the US Army for its tests. The thinking was if it knock down steers and kill them it would be effective against humans {in particular the Moros of the phillipines}

Roger J. said...

Here's a link on the testing protocols: http://www.chuckhawks.com/handgun_stopping_power.htm

EMD said...

Nathan--of course the 45 was not tested on humans--but it was tested extensively on its ability to kill steers bought by the US Army for its tests. The thinking was if it knock down steers and kill them it would be effective against humans {in particular the Moros of the phillipines}

Figures the army is led by anti-bovine gun nuts.

Chip Ahoy said...

iirc it wasn't Glenn Reynold's analogy, he was referring to something somebody else said, as he does, then said, "fair enough ..." as he does.

So quit calling it Glenn Reynold's analogy And Glenn Reynold's gay penis before he has a reason to come over here and sue us defamation.

Rusty said...

Is it me or are a whole buncha folks here missin the point?

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
B said...

Rusty said...Is it me or are a whole buncha folks here missin the point?

It's not you.

Some are playing the SOS racist game. If you make a well considered critique on substance that cannot be countered in a way that doesn't expose the vapidity of your opponent's position, it's twisted into an indictment of your bigotry. In this case, homophobia. Andy R does it as a trademark.

For one or two, actually one in particular, any point more complicated than what day it is goes whooshing right on by.

JRPtwo said...

Let’s paraphrase Scalia’s argument with the Princeton student:

Scalia: We can outlaw sodomy based on moral feelings.

Student: These moral feelings are offensive; and, they’re not a good enough reason.

Scalia: Sure, they are. We can outlaw murder based on moral feelings, right? Are you suggesting we can’t outlaw murder? This is a reduction to the absurd argument. I’m surprised you weren’t persuaded.

The flaws here in Scalia’s argument seem pretty obvious. What are these moral feelings? Is he saying we can ban these things “because we all know they are wrong”? Yes, we all know murder is wrong, but not sodomy. Is it “because murder and gay sex are icky? They both upset his stomach? Perhaps Scalia means some things are wrong and “I know it when I see it.”

What about moral feelings against contraception? Premarital sex? What about lying—we all know that’s wrong, is that good enough to criminalize it?

Perhaps Scalia’s “moral feeling” is more like a conclusion than a reason. Society figured out long ago that murder is wrong; and, it was such an easy conclusion that we’ve forgotten all the reasons. Easy cases make bad law because the conclusion is so obvious, it’s easy to rely on the wrong reason. Scalia has picked the easiest case of all, murder. It shouldn’t be a surprise that he makes bad law.

Matthew Sablan said...

"But I am open to some added forms of gun control and it's a bit odd how some people think their right to have easy access to military style weapons is more important than the rights of the rest of society."

-- What form of gun control do you suggest? Then, how would that have stopped this man from overpowering a legal gun owner and robbing and killing her?

No one ever answers me except with vague answers about clip size and assault weapon bans. Tell me: How would your regulations stop this incident?

PD Quig said...

The only reasonable response to the faux outrage of the left is to humiliate them. Publicly and as thoroughly as possible. Contempt and mockery. Or perhaps a quick open-handed slap to the face if you can get away with it.

chickelit said...

Come closer and say that.
I'd like to piss all over that pretty face of yours, boy.


Piss up a rope

William Chadwick said...

"More people are ignorant of logic and proper argument . . . "

Especially "liberals," modern American "liberalism" being a branch of the Cult of the State. Cults are impervious to logic.

William Chadwick said...

"More people are ignorant of logic and proper argument . . . "

Especially "liberals," modern American "liberalism" being a branch of the Cult of the State. Cults are impervious to logic.

Tim said...

"But I am open to some added forms of gun control and it's a bit odd how some people think their right to have easy access to military style weapons is more important than the rights of the rest of society."

Explain, if you can, 1) the functional difference of "military style weapons" from a semi-automatic hunting rifle that makes it, in reality, a more dangerous firearm than a semi-automatic hunting rifle, and 2) how access to the "military style weapons" is more dangerous to "the rights of the rest of society."

In full disclosure, you should know this is a test of knowledge and intelligence.

Proceed.

Methadras said...

"Why are people having so much trouble understanding rhetorical devices?"

Because people are getting dumber, that's why.

VekTor said...

"AF said...

Professor Althouse, I notice you didn't quote my actual point, which was that the analogy is offensive because it assumes that guns are to killing people as gays are to raping boys."

No, the analogy does "assume that". You simply chose to infer that it does. I'll try to provide a far more reasonable breakdown of the real analogy. Please try to follow it, in the hopes that you can abandon this continued misrepresentation of the point.

There is a "gun community", made up of a wide variety of individuals with interests in guns. The massive majority of these individuals engage in activities with their guns in a fully legal and ethical manner, including target shooting.

A tiny fraction of people use guns in truly horrific and immoral ways, as we've seen recently at Sandy Hook. A despicable individual used guns to commit an atrocity. He turned children into targets, transforming a legitimate act into a monstrosity.

There is a "gay community" made up of a wide variety of individuals with interests in homosexual activity. The massive majority of these individuals engage in sexual activities in a fully legal and ethical manner, including males having consensual anal sex with other males.

A tiny fraction of people use sexual activity in truly horrific and immoral ways, as we've seen recently at Penn State. A despicable individual used his sexual activity to commit an atrocity. He turned male children into unwilling recipients of anal sex from another male, transforming a legitimate/legal act into a monstrosity.

The Sandy Hook shooter using guns to commit his atrocity upon children does not imply that he is a representative member of the "gun community", and those who have an interest in legal uses of guns should not be held ethically responsible for his misbehavior.

Jerry Sandusky using male-on-male anal sex to commit his atrocity upon children does not imply that he is a representative member of the "gay community", and those who have an interest in legal uses of male-on-male anal sex should not be held ethically responsible for his misbehavior.

Employing the rhetorical device of asking "What is the gun community going to do about this tragedy?" is fallacious, because it implies that the "gun community" bears some responsibility for the outrageous acts of an individual, because of some passing similarity (both sets include the repeated firing of guns by some members of the set).

Employing the rhetorical device of asking "I dunno. What is the gay community going to do about Penn State?” uses the same fallacious reasoning: it implies that the "gay community" bears some responsibility for the outrageous acts of an individual, because of some passing similarity (both sets involve male-on-male anal sex by some members of the set).

Therefore, the second rhetorical device is analogous to the first. QED.

Big Mike said...

@Vektor, Don't try teaching at Princeton -- if they kids had enough brains to be able to follow your logic their high school counselors would have routed them off to state schools.

richard mcenroe said...

Another tactic is to complain that they don't understand what you said; this is supposed to make you want to defend your own coherence. I've just learned to say "thank you for proving my point" and carry on...

VekTor said...

My favorite response to the "I'm outraged!" tactic is to simply say "Yes, you're outraged. And therefore... what?"

Force them to make their implications plain, for all to see. If you want to try to bully me with rhetoric, you're going to have to be brazen about it. I'm not going to help you through it by supplying my own inferences and then reacting to them on your behalf.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

JRPtwo said...

Let’s paraphrase Scalia’s argument with the Princeton student:

Scalia: We can outlaw sodomy based on moral feelings.

Student: These moral feelings are offensive; and, they’re not a good enough reason.

Scalia: Sure, they are. We can outlaw murder based on moral feelings, right? Are you suggesting we can’t outlaw murder? This is a reduction to the absurd argument. I’m surprised you weren’t persuaded.


Scalia's argument here is not reduction to the absurd. There is nothing absurd about saying we base our law against murder on morality. Scalia's argument is more of a slippery-slope argument; if we can't outlaw sodomy based on morals, than we can't outlaw incest, bestiality, or murder for the same reason.

I do think that Scalia really weakens his case when he includes murder. That can easily be outlawed based on harm-to-others.

But what is the justification for outlawing incest between consenting adults? How about bestiality with a consenting animal? ( anyone who says an animal can't consent had never had a dog humping their leg. )


The flaws here in Scalia’s argument seem pretty obvious. What are these moral feelings? Is he saying we can ban these things “because we all know they are wrong”? Yes, we all know murder is wrong, but not sodomy. Is it “because murder and gay sex are icky? They both upset his stomach? Perhaps Scalia means some things are wrong and “I know it when I see it.”

Scalia is not saying they should be illegal because he believes they are wrong. He is saying that state legislatures have the power to make things illegal based on morality. That's clearly been the case since our country was founded, was the understanding when the constitution was ratified, and is still true today. ( for example, there are places where you can't buy alcohol on Sundays. Prostitution is illegal in most states. etc. )

You could argue that some other, unenumerated right prohibits the government from outlawing sodomy. But its silly to argue that, in general, morality is not a valid reason for a law.

What about moral feelings against contraception? Premarital sex? What about lying—we all know that’s wrong, is that good enough to criminalize it?

Yes, yes, and no ( 1st amendment )

Perhaps Scalia’s “moral feeling” is more like a conclusion than a reason. Society figured out long ago that murder is wrong; and, it was such an easy conclusion that we’ve forgotten all the reasons. Easy cases make bad law because the conclusion is so obvious, it’s easy to rely on the wrong reason. Scalia has picked the easiest case of all, murder. It shouldn’t be a surprise that he makes bad law.

As I said, murder was a bad example. But it was not his only example. The rest of his argument still stands.

Also note, he is not saying sodomy should be illegal, just that the constitution does not prohibit such a law. And since his argument is not based on his opinion of sodomy, any counter-argument should address his argument, not what you believe to be his personal opinion about sodomy.

Marty said...

In most cases, the proper response to those who use the "offended" position to shut you down is that THEY have a problem of not being able to participate a discussion; it's their problem, not yours.

geoffrobinson said...

Wow. I've been thinking about this since Santorum got in trouble for drawing out the consequences of Lawrence v. Texas.

My personal belief is that people just aren't smart.

rasqual said...

No one gets reductio ad absurdum any more. Nor satire, really. You end up being deemed the kind of lout you're trying to trash with rhetorical devices -- blamed for holding what you impugn. It's bizarre. In all seriousness, Idiocracy is not fiction.

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