Tag Archives: tu quoque

May cause a sudden drop in blood pressure

More fun with conditional hypocrisy, courtesy of the Virginia Senate:

The bill, SB484, says pregnant women must be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image prior to an abortion and requires abortion providers to keep a copy in the patient’s file.

"I view this as a serious women's health issue," Vogel said on her website. "At a minimum, ultrasound is necessary to determine gestational age and that there is no anomaly that could affect the health of the mother or outcome of the procedure."

Pro-abortion rights advocates consider the ultrasound provision a tactic to add cost and inconvenience to the process with the goal of getting women to change their minds.

Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax County, was dismayed enough by the bill's progress that she tried to amend it so men seeking prescriptions for erectile dysfunction medication such as Viagra would be required to undergo a rectal exam and cardiac stress test.

She said that's "only fair, that if we're going to subject women to unnecessary procedures, and we're going to subject doctors to having to do things that they don't think is medically advisory."

Howell's amendment ought to help people visualize how such a bill would affect their own administration of their privates, were certain facts different. 

The amendment was defeated, but so was the bill. 

Analogy and hypocrisy

Cal Thomas thinks Newt Gingrich is being unfairly criticized for his consulting work for Freddie Mac.  The charges of hypocrisy, he holds, are off base.  Here's the defense:

That Gingrich took money from Freddie Mac, an agency he now derides, may seem like hypocrisy to some, but not to me. I, for example, think the Department of Agriculture should be closed, though I once worked for them. I also received a student loan, which I repaid, though I am now critical of how some of the government's student loan programs are run. I attended public schools, but believe parents ought to be able to send their kids to a private school if it promises to offer a better education. Am I hypocritical?

I wonder what Thomas would have to say to someone who said: Yes, all that is hypocritical.  Now, it may be the case that Thomas worked for the DOA and thereby learned that they don't do anything worthwhile.  So he believes that the agency should be shut down.  He may have taken a student loan because it was a sweet deal.  Now he sees that the government shouldn't give such sweet deals, because it can't be on the hook for the loans.  And it may be the case that he attended a public school, but because there were no other options.  So he now believes there should be private school options, too.  That's the story to tell.  In these cases, we have someone who was part of the system being criticized who saw something negative about it and now has critical things to say.  That's perfectly intelligible. And it's not hypocrisy. (My own view is that he's not a hypocrite, just wrong)

But are these cases analogous to the Gingrich case?  I don't think so, as Newt knew what Freddie Mac was about before he took the consulting job. He had choices of alternatives as what companies or corporations to be an advocate for.  If he's hired as a consultant, he should be knowledgeable enough to know what he's getting into. Thomas may not be a hypocrite for the incongruity between his past and his current views, but that's not enough to get Newt off the hook for the hypocrisy charge.

But now a broader question:  of what relevance is the hypocrisy charge against Gingrich, to begin with?  There's already so much about the guy I don't like, the fact that he's a hypocrite about this is not very important.  But I think the importance of the point is more for deep red Republicans.  Hypocrisy, especially on an issue like this at a time like this, is really important to anyone who is looking for the right (right-wing) fiscal conservative.  If Newt has a history of getting into bed with failed companies  that contributed to the mess, it's harder to sell him as someone who can fix it.  The issue, really, isn't his hypocrisy, but his judgment generally. 

Scare quoque

Mallard Fillmore's recent take on the President's rhetorical strategies:

This is an argument about arguments — namely, that scare tactics are bad, but it's worse to be a hypocrite about using them.  So the score tally goes:  Republicans -1 for using scare tactics, Obama +1 for chastising them for using the tactic.  Obama -1 for using scare tactics, and -1 for being a hypocrite about using them.  (And +1 for Fillmore for pointing out the scare tactic, and +1 for pointing out the hypocrisy.)

Now, a question.  Surely arguing that policy X will have bad consequences (or not following policy X will have the bad consequences) appeals to people's fears, but (a) so long as those things are bad and worth fearing, and (b) X is a crucial element in either avoiding or bringing about those consequences, aren't arguments from fear also good arguments from prudence?  The scare tactic is not composed of simply pointing out that something bad will happen if we don't do something — it's comprised in shutting down discussion about what is the best way to avoid the bad consequences.  Take for example the insurance salesman who says something like: people your age often can get sick and die with no warning — that's why you need St. Bartholomew Insurance to take care of your family if that happens.  The fact of the sudden death may mean that you should get insurance, but it certainly doesn't mean that you should get St. Bartholomew Ins.  We don't get why the Republicans or Obama are using scare tactics here, but it is a real question for us when we're being scared to accept a conclusion that doesn't follow.

Time to employ the tu quoque

Short items today.

First, according one study, half of the recipients of social programs (including various tax credits) in the US do not know or believe they are participants.  As they continue to demand the government get their hands of their Medicare, or that the government stop treating social security like its some kind of government program, one may without reservation employ the tu quoque.

Second, hipster baby might inspire a new response to the ultra conservative pro-life types: I was gay before I was born.  Then again, perhaps the science is not clear on that, as the careful (though oddly selective) skeptic Tim Pawlenty proclaims.


Ironic, in other words, tu quoque

Target stores are doing their best to fight the unions.  They've made some anti-union videos to be shown during training sessions.  They employed union actors to make the videos.  Here's the story in Salon.com, and the author, Justin Elliot, sees the tension:

Oh, the irony! Target Corp., long locked in a battle with labor organizers, filmed a notorious internal anti-union video with union actors and under the jurisdiction of one of the biggest unions in the entertainment business.

The trouble with the observation, at least argumentatively, is that it's clearly a critical statement, but it's not clear yet what the criticism amounts to.  What follows from the fact that Target used union workers to make a video against unions?  The actor who is one of the spokespeople in the video, Ric Reitz, felt it was "awkward" for him, not for Target.

Tu quoque arguments, like with many of the fallacy forms, usually are deployed cursorially, and one element of this cursorial presentation is conclusion suppression.  And so it has been said: 

Have you ever noticed that liberals want to kill babies but save the lives of hardened criminals?

Have you ever noticed how Christians worship someone who calls himself the prince of peace, but they themselves are crazed warmongers?

What follows from either of these tu quoque cases?  Not clear in either, but they are clearly critical.  And so some reconstruction is in order.  Perhaps with the liberals one, the observation is that the values are upside down, and so we know something about the kind of person who'd make that error.  Perhaps with the Christians case, the point is about self-deception.  Those are pretty charitable, but, hey, even fallacy forms deserve a little love.

So what's the charitable interpretation of the Target case?  One interpretation of Target's actions is that they did not look into whether the actors were union-affiliated, or if they knew so, their being in a union is immaterial, because these employees are utterly temporary, and Target won't have to deal with them again.  Store employees are different, and that's what they are out to prohibit.  Another charitable interpretation of Target's actions is that they genuinely do believe that unions get in the way of good business practice, but they won't begrudge individual actors and actresses who've made the error of joining one.

How about charitable interpretations of the argument as criticism, though? Here's one: Target has a double standard. On the one hand, there are actors, and they deserve the protections that unions can provide.  And on the other hand, there are the people that Target employs.  Target treats them however they like. Here's another: Target will play ball with unions. They just don't like to.  Here's one more: Target recognizes the quality of work that unionized workers provide, and they use them for crucial jobs.  But store workers are replacable, and so get no such treatment.  So far, they are just ad hominem arguments about character, but that's an improvement from cursorial tu quoque.

I’m rubber, you’re glue…

David Limbaugh (yes, brother of that Limbaugh) has a message for all those liberal-types and namby-pamby conservatives who aren't down with the Tea Party: the more you act like or say that Tea Party Conservatives are extremists, that just shows what an extremist you are. 

I'm surely not the only one who notices the persistent efforts of the leftist establishment and certain establishment Republicans to portray mainstream conservatives, especially those inhabiting the tea party movement, as radicals and extremists. The more they push this theme the more they marginalize themselves.

You see, according to Limbaugh, Tea-Partiers can't be extremists, because they believe in everything that is right and good.  And so, those who hold that the people who believe in all things right and good are extremists must themselves be the real extremists:

They reveal a great deal about themselves when they call "extremists" patriotic Americans who believe in the American ideal, lower taxes and fiscal responsibility, originalism, the rule of law, blind justice, equal protection under the law, strong national defense, limiting government to its assigned constitutional functions, the Second Amendment, the nondiscriminatory application of freedom of speech and expression, the free exercise clause, a reasonable — not unduly expansive — interpretation of the establishment and commerce clauses, protection for the unborn, judicial restraint, federalism, the separation of powers, the free market, racial colorblindness, the existence of good and evil in the world, equality of opportunity rather than of outcomes, law and order, immigration control and border protection, motherhood and apple pie.

First of all, anyone who says he believes in apple pie has got to be an extremist, if only because he takes it that in having to avow belief in apple pie, there are people out there who don't.  Who doesn't believe in apple pie?  Anyone?  So who's he up against?   Well, sure, it's a rhetorical flourish… but what on Limbaugh's list isn't?  It's not that anyone in the debate doesn't believe that lower taxes and fiscal responsibility would be great… just if we didn't have to prop up banks that would otherwise drag the country down the drain or find some way to stimulate the economy in a way that doesn't take advantage of the fact that so many are suffering.  Who's against the rule of law, blind justice, freedom of expression and speech, free exercise of religion?  Who doesn't believe in real goods, real evils? Anybody?  Really, it's all a long list of stuff nobody really rejects, well, except Originalism and the stuff about the unborn.  But reasonable people disagree about those things.  Ah, but here's the rub: Tea Partiers have a quick tendency to use terms like 'fascism' or 'tyranny' or 'socialism' or 'communism' to describe those who disagree with them on the details.  That's what makes them extremists — they refuse to acknowledge that those with whom they disagree have good intentions, reasons, a love for their country, and a vision of justice.

Now, here's the problem: if Limbaugh can't see liberals (or even moderate conservatives) as committed to blind justice, free exercise, and fiscal responsibility, too, regardless of how they come down on originalism and abortion, then isn't that the real face of extremism?