My last posting was about James Gannon's "Hayseed Rebellion," and the version of ad populum argument I'd called 'arguments from persecution." I've reconsidered the reconstruction, as I don't think the argument hangs on the injustice of persecution per se, but the vice of the persecutors being a function of what they are persecuting. In this case, the crucial element of the argument is that it is addressed to an audience of folks who feel as though they are under attack from somebody (or who are open to being convinced that they are) who persecutes them for what they believe is right.
Take the opening characterization Gannon uses:
If you believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman, you are a homophobe and a bigot.
Now, his audience (it is American Spectator) is someone who accepts the antecedent. But they feel uncomfortable, I think, about the consequent. I think Gannon's audience would want to say something like the following: I stand for traditional marriage, which is between a man and a woman, but that doesn't make me a homophobe or a bigot. That just makes me a conservative.
Gannon's statement, clearly, attributes a view, then, to an opposition that is inattentive these fine distinctions between conservatives and bigots. You see, bigots deny rights that are deserved, conservatives deny rights that, erm, aren't deserved. Or are "special rights" that the rest of everybody else has. Or something like that. The irony, as Gannon takes it, is that these folks who hold that to be opposed to treating gays as equals is a case of bigotry are educated. These educated folks just don't get it, yet they look down on conservatives, who are right, you see.
Now, I've myself used this little frame of argument in passing, but with postmodernists. These folks think that everyone who thinks that logical thinking and valid argumentation is worthwhile are 'logocentric' and hold a 'totalizing' view of the world. Totalitarianism isn't far (down a slippery slop). So when I say these things to right-minded folks, i.e., those who see the value of logic and valid argumentation, all I need to do is say that they have names of disapprobation for these things that are so clearly right. That's enough, because we see this as a short-hand for saying: this group is composed of stupid people who must be stopped.
So these contrastive statements (if you believe this thing that seems right to you, then you are a that thing that seems wrong to you) are for the purpose of out-grouping a class of people who think that of you. We think this, they think the things we think are stupid. This is right, so that makes them stupid. All done, especially when it's done in the right tone of voice.
The objective, then, is to show the vice of those who are wrong and stupid: they have special terms of abuse to refer to those who are right. They call us (conservatives) bigots, homophobes, religious nutcases, and so on. That not just shows that liberals are wrong, but that shows that their error breeds unique vices. Liberals don't just need correction. They need confrontation, and resistance.
So the reconstruction:
P1: You hold view p. And view p is true (that's why you hold it, duh!)
P2: Those who belong to group X hold that anyone who holds view p has vice V.
P3: You do not have vice V.
C1: Those in group X are wrong about p.
P4: Those who hold that those with true beliefs are vicious are opponents of truth.
C2: Those in group X are opponents of truth.
P5: Opponents of truth must be resisted and reviled.
C3: Those in group X must be resisted and reviled.
And thereby, you make a case against a group (and provide a rallying cry) simply by the fact that they criticize you.