The question mark fallacy

For the second third (behind Paul Krugman and Rush Limbaugh) most influential columnist in America, George Will, it seems politicizing things is now bad.  He writes:

"This is just the beginning," Yosi Sergant told participants in an Aug. 10 conference call that seems to have been organized by the National Endowment for the Arts and certainly was joined by a functionary from the White House Office of Public Engagement. The call was the beginning of the end of Sergant's short tenure as NEA flack — he has been reassigned. The call also was the beginning of a small scandal that illuminates something gargantuan — the Obama administration's incontinent lust to politicize everything. 

Incontinent lust?  Anyway, this argument, if you can call it that, suffers from the "question mark fallacy"–all of the premises end in question marks:

Did the White House initiate the conference call-cum-political pep rally? Or, even worse, did the NEA, an independent agency, spontaneously politicize itself? Something that reads awfully like an invitation went from Sergant's NEA e-mail address to a cohort of "artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, tastemakers, leaders or just plain cool people."

They were exhorted to participate in a conference call "to help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda." The first core area mentioned was "health care."

Questions, your introduction to critical thinking teacher will tell you, are not statements.  They have no truth value.  Will is also guilty of the quotation mark fallacy–a signal someone has ripped a bunch of stuff out of context in order to make it look accurate (it's a quote!) and ominous (those are their actual words!).  This research, such as it is, is done by an assistant trolling the conservative blogosphere for the topic of the day.

Crap.  As for the quote itself, uou can read the actual email (in a screen capture) at the links in the quotation above; it's a call for people to get engaged in public service and volunteerism, which things, so it seems to Will, are political.  To suggest as much, I think, commits the everything-is-political fallacy: defining "political" so broadly that nothing does not qualify.  Of course, if that's the case, ergo, etc, as they say. 

This is Jonah Goldberg quality stuff here.  If Mr.Will keeps this up, he'll be lucky to be the thirty-fourth most influential pundit in America.

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