Here's Juan Williams, formerly of NPR, on non-bigotry:
"Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."
NPR fired this guy. If they fired him for being an f—ing moron they would be absolutely more than justified. I can think of two reasons: first, Muslims in traditional garb are not going to commit acts of terrorism; second, Muslims as a whole ought not to be identified for logical and political reasons with Taliban-style extremists (Wanna be identified with Timothy McVeigh?).
One more reason: Williams endorsed the justification, although this time a bit more plausibly, for any Iraqi or Afghani or Iranian or just anyone at all perhaps in the non-Israeli Middle East who worries that Westerners, in particular Americans, might want to democratize them.
22 thoughts on “I’m not a bigot, but I play one on “The O’Reilly Factor””
The interview on video
Response on ABC
Come on. You can't be THAT bias as to think that this was a smart move on NPR's part.
As I think I've said a zillion times to you Andrew, the question of my bias is irrelevant. I've expressed a point of view, offered reasons for it, so of course it's f—ing biasED, that's not the bleeding point.
My point, as you might have gathered had you understood the post, was that Williams said something extremely idiotic, I would as a consequence question his basic skills and thus qualifications for his job.
Williams expressed overt bigotry while on a major media outlet in his official capacity as an NPR spokesperson, in direct violation of his contract. This is not the first time he's crossed various ethical lines in that capacity.
Exactly how is it a "smart move" on NPR's part to continue to enable and enfranchise the kind of infantilism that Fox specializes in?
Maybe because he's resorting to fear mongering? There is little difference in the interpretation of changing the order of words in statements like, "all muslims are terrorists, or all terrorists are muslim". Logically there is gigantic difference, but that's not what questions like this are discussing.
Clearly, someone in traditional garb might look odd, trigger your stereotypes, and maybe even have space to conceal something under a robe. Think for a moment how many security measures have been pointed directly at a person dressed and appearing Arabic, you treating them differently will keep you no safer. If anything, creating an environment where someone in tradition garb is accepted as having an American identity is the only way we can all try to prevent acts of violence and terror. We need to remember that we cannot always look around in the group of white midwestern Americans and see who the McVeigh(s) will be, the same should be held for others in our country.
Anyone who watches the full interview will see that he's not being a bigot (hence why I linked to it). Really, the forced outrage here is laughable. Congratulations though, you won't have to deal with me again. You've convinced my that there's no point in my continuing to try to understand your point of view.
Again, Andrew, you fail to get the point.
You don't have to be a Librull to think Williams' comments are idiotic and grounds for dismissal from a reputable news organization. Good thing there's a go-to disreputable news organization that provides "safe haven" for this nonsense, and it apparently pays well!
Your post is provocative.
First, your title is an obviously sarcastic stab at William’s prefatory comments, which he intended to use to insulate himself from potential charges of bigotry arising from his then forthcoming comments. It seems that you cleverly manage to get this one both ways in an implicit, “if-it-walks-like-a-duck…” sort of way, effectively charging Williams with his having it both ways by trying to avoid the general character stain of bigotry while seemingly engaging in the defining activity of the bigot. It’s as if you say, “You may not be a bigot, but damn, you sure sound like one.” You accomplish that through your allusion to the propensity of some entertainment consumers to unthinkingly or naïvely identify the actor with the character—“I’m not [x]; I only play one [on TV, in the movies, on stage, etc.]” being the antidote that such an actor would dispense to attempt to cure the confusion in those audience members.
Also, your title could easily have an implicit stab, conscious or not, at Fox News and it’s audience or at Williams and his audience or both, for if the actor-confused-with-character allusion is indeed present, then it’s at least possible that you are also directing your sarcasm at those audiences as if they are especially prone to that kind of idiocy. And if one’s audience is disproportionately composed of idiots, then the likelihood that that to which the audience is paying their attention is idiotic is disproportionately higher (but not necessarily at the same rate).
You don’t charge Williams with bigotry outright, however. Either you are being at least somewhat charitable here in allowing for the possibility that one, as you perceive it, bone-headed comment does not a bigot make, or you do believe that this one, particular comment does this bigot reveal but will allow your readers to make that link themselves, leaving you free of having explicitly made the charge. It seems more likely that the former possibility rather than the latter is at work here, for if Williams is “play[ing the bigot] on [TV]”, then implied here is that it is a fictitious, or at least temporary, role. If the role is fictitious or temporary, then it is not permanent and does not entail a general character trait that would render accurate a charge of “bigot” leveled at him.
Williams’ comments, though, do not rise to the level of bigotry. According to Merriam-Webster Online, a bigot is “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” In this episode, there is no obstinacy or intolerant devotion to opinions and prejudices, nor is there treatment of Muslims with hatred and intolerance. Indeed, later in that segment on Fox, Williams makes the distinction between the moderates and the extremists in Germany, correcting O’Reilly’s comingling of the two—I don’t think a bigot would have cared enough to correct the host of the show on which he appeared.
One may be able to argue that his comments reveal a certain degree of irrationality, but comments about reactions to particular demographic groups that merely reflect some irrationality are insufficient to demonstrate bigotry. If Williams’ record is littered with, meaning that there is a pattern of, prejudiced, intolerant outbursts, then it would understandable to view his comments on Fox News differently. However, even then, it would still be problematic to apply the “bigotry” label to them, because over the course of the entire segment, there is enough content and context to suggest that he was merely expressing an unease that he has or may have in certain situations with certain Muslims.
Your response to Andrew (not your taking him to task for anything; for all I know, he richly deserves it) is particularly “extreme”. A reaction of anxiety or worry by Williams, an emotional response to certain stimuli that occurs before reason kicks in to corral it or put it in context, cannot reasonably be described as “idiotic”, let alone “extremely” so. As alluded to above, at most, one could argue that it is irrational to have that emotional response. Moreover, one could plausibly argue that by definition, emotion itself is irrational or, at least, not within the realm of reason and is often beyond one’s control. Perhaps sometimes they coincide: I can be reasonably angry if someone punches me in the face unprovoked. Sometimes they do not coincide: perhaps I cannot not be reasonably angry if that person merely wears a burqa. To call someone an idiot for that latter emotional reaction would be pretty intolerant, and calling that person an extreme idiot for merely stating in a public forum that he or she has had or could conceivably have this reaction would be hyperbole.
I think where my disconnect with you and Gary Herstein lies is that Williams did not follow through with the critical “Therefore…” after he acknowledged on O’Reilly’s show his internal emotional state in certain situations. You know, “Therefore, we should ban Muslims from airplanes,” or “Therefore, we should boycott airlines that don’t screen out Muslims,” or “Therefore we should demand that they ‘go back home’,” for example. Williams never went out and committed acts of violence, moreover. He did not make a statement about Muslims; he made a statement about himself and kept it there. The mere emotional state or mention of it is, again, insufficient to demonstrate bigotry; he would have had to go somewhere else with some degree of intent, and he did not.
“If they fired him for being an f—ing moron they would be absolutely more than justified.”
One of the other interesting things about the post is your tagging of it. Clicking on the “Juan Williams” tag shows only this one post, which would imply that somehow Williams escaped your attention for as long as this weblog has existed which is for most of Williams’ ten-year career at National Public Radio. It is difficult to believe that it is possible for a “f—ing moron” as high-profile as Williams with questionable “basic skills” and “qualifications” to which you allude in a subsequent comment of yours not to have shown up here at some point prior to now, let alone remain at National Public Radio for as long as he did. Rather, if he never made that statement or one like it in the future, it’s highly doubtful we would be discussing him right now, and chances are that his career at National Public Radio would have ended as his own decision instead of as that of his superiors at the station.
“I can think of two reasons: first, Muslims in traditional garb are not going to commit acts of terrorism;”
This is a very strong claim, one that covers all future time. One may agree that such an act is unlikely, because as numerous pundits and experts have noted, Muslim terrorisms will more likely try to fit in in order not to raise suspicion or get caught than stand out in traditional garb. To prove your claim false, however, all that would be sufficient is for one Muslim in traditional garb to commit one act of terrorism at any point in the future. Because knowledge of the future is limited, you should not be so quick to completely foreclose the possibility, which is why Williams cannot be condemned to “f—ing moron” status for your first reason.
“second, Muslims as a whole ought not to be identified for logical and political reasons with Taliban-style extremists”
True enough, but Williams did not do that in his comments, and in fact, as I mentioned before, he corrected O’Reilly on a distinction between moderates and extremists that he failed to make during their discussion, so Williams cannot be condemned to “f—ing moron” status for your second reason either.
“([You] [w]anna be identified with Timothy McVeigh?).”
The tired Timothy McVeigh example needs to go; there may even be a flawed analogy here. What exactly is the marker with McVeigh that is analogous to the marker of radical Islam with alleged Fort Hood murderer Major Nidal Hasan, failed Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta, et al., such that the unstated “you” shouldn’t be identified with him? In other words, if the Taliban are extremist Muslims not to be identified with Muslims as a whole, McVeigh is an extremist…what not to be identified with…what as a whole? Whatever his marker is, I suspect that he’s the exception that proves, or at least strongly suggests, the rule that people with that marker generally don’t commit acts of terrorism.
To conclude, I don’t think you’ve demonstrated that William’s firing was justified, because the criterion that you set for yourself, that he’s a “f—ing moron”, has not been met as I believe I have demonstrated. If “f—ing moron” is code for “bigot”, then I believe that that criterion has also not been met as I believe I have also demonstrated. I also think whatever mechanism of inconsistency that says Juan Williams had to go, but Nina Totenberg didn’t, really needs to be explained by someone. Perhaps I’m missing something in all of this, but in the spirit of Descartes, I radically doubt it.
First, Williams wasn’t a “spokesperson” for National Public Radio. As far as I can tell, he was a news analyst, someone who gives his or her take on current topics in the news, for example, while a spokesperson communicates what his or her superiors want him to communicate. Williams was no more a “spokesperson” for National Public Radio than he is for Fox News. Perhaps your comment reveals an implicit claim that Williams should have functioned as a spokesperson, that there was some “party line” that he had to toe at National Public Radio and failed to do so. I cannot conclude this decisively, however, based only on the limited content of your comment.
Second, he was not on Fox News in his “official capacity” on behalf of National Public Radio any more than when at National Public Radio he was appearing in his official capacity on behalf of Fox, which is not to deny that what he says at one venue won’t have an effect at the other—there is a line beyond which statements Williams makes can reflect poorly on his employers, National Public Radio and Fox News, such that each may reasonably take corrective action, even when such statements are made “off the clock”. While I haven’t seen Williams’ contracts, I would assume that any such contract for a TV news analyst, reporter, etc. includes language to allow the employer some control over what the employee does off the clock to minimize the risk that the employee would do damage to the employer’s brand and reputation.
Third, I would like to see a hyperlink to William’s contract so that I could verify that what he said on Fox News constituted a “direct violation” thereof. It is your burden to prove that Williams is guilty of “direct[ly]” violating his contract, so without that hyperlink, I will assume that you really don’t know what you’re talking about and cannot provide any evidence to support this empirical claim.
Fourth, I would like to see at least one hyperlink to a crossing of “ethical lines”, which you fail to precisely draw, by Williams. Again, without the evidence, I will assume that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
That's perhaps the longest response in Non Sequitur history. A couple of quick points.
1. Tags "tag" the post on the internet, not only on the site. Having said that, I don't think it follows at all that I would have commented on Williams before had he been a moron. He's a reporter, allegedly, and I do very little of that here.
2. Williams alleges that any Muslim in traditional dress has identified themselves "first and foremost" with Islam and therefore is the justifiable cause of anxiety or nervousness. That's dumb on its face.
3. It's also dumb for the reasons I mentioned. Which I repeat. On this score, your "traditional garb" objection ("it's a strong claim . . . ." and "it only takes one. . . " can't be taken seriously).
4. On McVeigh, Rudolph, etc.: terrorists have come in all shapes. Some of them white Christian American types–or Irish Catholic types, in traditional Mick garb (in Britain)–maybe enough to make someone bloody nervous.
5. Finally, let me respond for Gary. Williams' contract (I believe) prohibited him from making NPR look bad:
wasn't that hard to find. It was in the most of the stories. But here's a quote (as you make repeated and silly demands for hyperlinks):
“I don't think it follows at all that I would have commented on Williams before had he been a moron.”
How about “follows somewhat”? In other words, I’m making an inductive rather than a deductive claim here. My two main points are that I don’t believe that we can conclude based on his comments or your weblog post about them that he is a moron or a bigot. Again, as I previously acknowledged, that doesn’t mean he isn’t, just that these two bits of media are insufficient to demonstrate it. Unstated in my response was the idea that being a moron is a long-term trait that, to paraphrase a comedian, “You can’t fix.” That his supposed moron-ness didn’t leave even a hint of a trail on your site until now leads me to believe your claim is a weak one.
“Williams alleges that any Muslim in traditional dress has identified themselves "first and foremost" with Islam and therefore is the justifiable cause of anxiety or nervousness. That's dumb on its face.”
No, he doesn’t. His comment was much narrower, which included time and place as severely limiting factors: on an airplane that he is on. Again, he merely revealed an emotional response to environmental stimuli. I would imagine that seeing a Muslim in traditional dress walking in the woods would not produce the same emotional response in him; if it did, then your case gets stronger, but not by much. Perhaps it is not “justifiable” in the sense that the numbers just don’t match his emotional reaction: the odds of some random Muslim dressed traditionally doing something harmful on a plane may be negligible, but emotions don’t originate from the same part of the brain that crunches these kinds of numbers. The real issue is what he does with the emotional response, not the response itself.
You’ll have to forgive me, but I don’t quite follow your third point and how it demonstrates not only that my objection fails, but also that it fails so spectacularly that it need not even be taken seriously.
“terrorists have come in all shapes.”
Granted, but again, Williams was talking very particularly (not generally like your comment here) in the present while on a plane, likely in the United States, though he doesn’t mention geographic location. Once you add those qualifiers, talk about Irish Catholics in Britain in traditional “Mick garb”, for example, misses the mark completely.
“Williams' contract (I believe) prohibited him from making NPR look bad:”
I don’t doubt this at all and even acknowledged it in my response to Gary, and it’s not a stretch to assume that a “you-must-follow-our-code-of-ethics” clause was in William’s contract. The phrase Gary used, though, “direct violation”, suggests something much clearer and unambiguous, which we don’t have here. We don’t know, for example, that he “express[ed] views [he] would not air in [his] role as an NPR journalist.” You can’t prove that he would have been unwilling or reluctant to say on National Public Radio what he said on Fox News, which is necessary to prove that he violated that part of the code of ethics. In addition, “if NPR determin[ed] such appearances are harmful to [it’s] reputation”, it’s code of ethics states that permission for Williams to appear on O’Reilly’s show in particular or Fox News in general could be revoked, not that he’d be fired. Finally, if the claim is that The O’Reilly Factor is a show that “encourage[s] punditry and speculation rather than rather than fact-based analysis,” I’d like to know the objective differences between the two such that O’Reilly can be correctly placed in the former category rather than the latter, because that description is too subjective for me to make that call.
1. I think it's obvious my claim is limited to what he said–which was moronic–as in "don't be a moron dude, that's dumb." Your analysis about moronism being a long-term property is cute, but misses the point.
2. Turns out it wasn't Muslims in traditional garb who carried out terrorist attacks in the US on 9/11 and at other times, so one has to wonder what Williams is talking about. The time and place restriction makes his claim more moronic, not less.
3. Speaking for Gary, I think it's fairly obvious Williams would not have said what he said on NPR. But he had had a longish history of this sort of thing on FOX, and that was part of the reason they NPR fired him.
4. Having said all of this, I don't have a position on the wisdom of firing him. I probably wouldn't have recommended it, as people who poorly understand such distinctions as these will poorly understand them.
*minor edit in point 3.
VAD, since all you can offer are your baseless assumptions, perhaps you should consider looking up the definition of argumentum ad ignorantiam: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/ignorant.html
I don’t think so. I know that fallacy well enough to know that I did not commit it. According to Copi & Cohen’s tenth edition of Introduction to Logic, the Argument Ad Ignorantiam occurs when one argues “that a proposition is true simply on the basis that it has not been proved false, or that it is false because it has not been proved true.” Um, looking at what I wrote in my first response to you, I can only guess that you must be looking at my third and fourth points:
“Third, I would like to see a hyperlink to William’s contract so that I could verify that what he said on Fox News constituted a ‘direct violation’ thereof. It is your burden to prove that Williams is guilty of ‘direct[ly]’ violating his contract, so without that hyperlink, I will assume that you really don’t know what you’re talking about and cannot provide any evidence to support this empirical claim.
Fourth, I would like to see at least one hyperlink to a crossing of ‘ethical lines’, which you fail to precisely draw, by Williams. Again, without the evidence, I will assume that you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
What I’ve done here is engage in a bit of skepticism. I am reluctant to accept as true your claims that Williams “direct[ly] violat[ed]” his contract or crossed “ethical lines” until you present a convincing case with evidence. Until you do, he is innocent in my eyes, as in the “baseless assumptions” of “presumed innocent” and “innocent until proven guilty”, not that he actually didn’t do it as an objective fact of reality.
As I’ve acknowledged numerous times over multiple comments, just because Williams’ segment on The O’Reilly Factor, John Casey’s original post, and subsequent comments here have thus far failed to demonstrate that Williams is a bigot or that he violated his contract, doesn’t mean that he in fact isn’t and didn’t; it just means that you haven’t proven your case or justified your claims. My repeated acknowledgements of that were aimed precisely at preempting potential charges of the very fallacy of which you just accused me (or at least insinuated), but it seems that despite those efforts, either I have nonetheless failed to avoid rhetorically tripping over myself and falling into Ignorantiam chasm, or you have misdiagnosed my argument like the Simpsons’ Dr. Nick. You’ll have to forgive my admittedly partial assessment, but I’m leaning toward the truth of the latter explanation, for it is consistent with what I would expect from someone who would see “baseless assumptions” when I adhere to the presumption of innocence.
I'm sorry for the aesthetic quality of my comments; I'm still figuring out how to work in a word processor and copy and paste here into this editor. They look different in the editor than they do after I've submitted them.
VAD, your comments are fine for the most part. We apologize for our slim editor.
I think Gary's accusation is a solid one, as you stridently assumed ("I will assume you don't really know and you cannot") Gary's claim to be false (or Gary to be full of it) in the absence of evidence for it. That in fact is a rather textbook case of the ad ignorantiam fallacy. In an argumentative exchange between non-lawyers (i.e., non advocates), which is what one hopes to have here, you might have done a little googling yourself. The stories about Williams' firing were full of references to his contract, etc. Perhaps had you done this, you might have been able to point out to Gary that he was wrong, or that his formulation of the matter was too strong. But that would have been a somewhat minor point, given the charity one ought to extend to people in these types of fora.
But this brings me to a more general point about your responses. Don't get the idea we (me and the other regular authors and commenters) don't appreciate criticism. We do. We just defend ourselves.
I'd say in general, as the Gary case above illustrates, that you're guilty of over-interpreting your interlocutor in an effort to make them look careless or sloppy. That I think is a failure of charity. I didn't actually imply or argue that Williams was a bigot. I think that's a strong claim, and I didn't offer any evidence of that. My title was a play on the issue (I'm sorry I have to explain this, but maybe it's my age). Williams has been accused of playing one person on Fox and one on NPR. That's in fact why NPR said it fired him. The title of course refers to a commercial about Aspirin (seems you got this), so it was mostly a joke.
I will however stand by the view that Williams said something moronic initially, backed it up with crap facts (this wasn't in the original post, but you can find it if you google it), but worse, backed it up with shallow analysis. People in traditional garb, as I think you mentioned, aren't likely terrorists (by the way, that's obviously what I meant, so your long excursus on logical possibitly is another instance of an absence of charity) on airplanes. And, to my knowledge, they have never been guilty of this (in America). That was just a dumb inference to make, and that was my point. Williams ought also to have been smarter than to have attempted to justify his fearful connection of Islam (he said it was war. . . . ) with Islam as a whole.
That's dumb. Really dumb. He may feel fear when he sees Muslims, but he doesn't really need to confess it. Perhaps, as someone from NPR rightly said, he ought to have kept that between himself and his psychiatrist.
“We just defend ourselves.”
As do I; I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“People in traditional garb, as I think you mentioned, aren't likely terrorists (by the way, that's obviously what I meant, so your long excursus on logical possibitly is another instance of an absence of charity) on airplanes.”
In my eagerness to present my side in this debate, I may have failed to extend sufficient charity to my interlocutors, but I don’t think this is one such example, and I don’t think, if it were true, that it undermines my case. Here, I seized on your sloppy statement in your original post, “Muslims in traditional garb are not going to commit acts of terrorism.” It would have been only a few more keystrokes to say, “[It’s unlikely that] Muslims in traditional garb [are going] to commit acts of terrorism,” which is more plausible, but it’s also weaker.
Perhaps these statements really do mean basically the same thing such that I am nit picking here (I don’t think so, but I guess it’s possible), but I think that striving for as much precision as possible when attempting to justify the firing of a ten-year veteran of National Public Radio is a necessary effort at which I think you failed here. I do, though, believe that there is a difference, and my suggested, amended statement is more precise without losing accuracy. The improved accuracy, though, comes at the cost of undermining your case for Williams’ firing, because it is a weaker objection. Contrast that with such strong, uncharitable rhetoric that he’s a “f—ing moron” whose termination was “absolutely more than justified”.
Can he not just be mistaken, his apprehension merely misplaced, with his mention of his momentary emotional reaction in very limited set of circumstances without being a “f—ing moron” who deserved to be fired? Your very clear answer here is “no”, which is rather uncharitable.
One thing we should keep in mind about Williams’ appearance on O’Reilly’s show was that it occurred shortly after and in the context of O’Reilly’s appearance on The View when Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walked off the set after O’Reilly said that Muslims killed us on 9/11, a statement that is not inaccurate. Given the trauma that practitioners of one particular religion and in the name of that religion, Islam, inflicted on the United States, the most devastating attack on American soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II, I don’t think that giving Williams a pass here would be unreasonable.
Here is a more charitable interpretation of Williams to justify that last claim: 9/11 was an attack on the U.S. by Muslims, not by people who merely happened to be Muslim. These attacks were executed using airplanes. These events were traumatic for many people and possibly including Williams. These are quick associations, “Muslim”, “airplanes”, “attack”, and “trauma” that can easily occur in an instant in a part of the brain not governed by logic and reason. Merely acknowledging this and stating that it has/could happen to him upon seeing a Muslim on a plane could charitably be viewed as non-moronic, even if misdirected given the unlikelihood that traditionally dressed Muslims will actually cause harm on an airplane.
“I think Gary's accusation is a solid one, as you stridently assumed ("I will assume you don't really know and you cannot") Gary's claim to be false (or Gary to be full of it) in the absence of evidence for it. That in fact is a rather textbook case of the ad ignorantiam fallacy.”
Nope. The fallacy can basically take the binary form: I claim “x”; you claim “y” or “not x”. I claim that since you didn’t provide evidence or sound argument for “y”, it therefore must be “x”, “x” must be true, or “x” is thus proved. I did not do this. I did the following: I started with the charitable assumption “x” (Williams did not violate his contract), I read something that asserted “y (not x)” that failed to persuade me from my charitable assumption that existed before the discussion, and finally, I stated that my charitable assumption remains since the evidence/argument for “y” was unconvincing, or in Gary’s case, nonexistent. At no point did I make a truth claim or presume anything about the actual issue in dispute, which is what I think you think I did when you said, “…stridently assumed…”. Had I done that, the charge of fallacious reasoning would be justified.
Moreover, I was careful with my words here; I would have welcomed a response by Gary pointing me in the right direction, through a hyperlink, preferably, that would have made more clear how Williams violated his contract. I also made clear, however, that in the absence of that implicitly requested response, I “will assume” that he didn’t know what he was talking about. I was careful to use the future tense here, as in after some amount of time waiting for some evidence, I would reasonably assume, in the placeholder sense of “until something better comes along” rather than in the presumption sense of “I will therefore be convinced that it is actually true that you don’t know…”.
I believe that now it should be clear that I did not commit the Argument Ad Ignorantium.
You haven't said anything to counter my main claim: *If* they fired him for being a moron, they'd be justified. They didn't fire him, by the way, for being a moron. They fired him for some other contractual reason. I have said above I don't know about the wisdom of that decision, however much I think what Williams said was dumb.
He was being moronic, for the reasons given. I'd say indeed–a ten year veteran news analyst of NPR ought to have sounder judgement and analytical skills to know the difference. That a group of 19 Muslim religious extremists committed an atrocious act of terrorism in 2001 is not an excuse to confuse extremist terrorism with the rest of the billion plus Muslims on the planet.
He can feel terrified all he wants, but he really ought to keep that between himself and his psychiatrist.
On the your defense against the ignorantiam charge, I think you're stretching credulity on the future tense business. But I'll grant that (on Gary's behalf for the time being for the sake of argument). I think it's been shown (at least by the NPR people) that he had been warned, and NPR feels he had breached the contract. To my knowledge, Williams hasn't objected to this. But in any case, I think Gary's point stands. One other thing on this point (again), if you don't like Gary's evidence, you can go look for yourself. It's obvious that he's referring to something. So maybe he's assuming you know the facts he does, so rather than throwing down the gauntlet, proclaiming that if he doesn't pick it up he loses, why not just go look. Or absent that, why not make an offer as follows: Gary, you seem to know something I don't, mind pointing it out to me? No need to follow up with the threat of victory.
“You haven't said anything to counter my main claim: *If* they fired him for being a moron, they'd be justified.”
Well, okay, but now this claim has become rather useless. If they fired him for punching a baby in the face, they’d be justified; if they fired him for setting National Public Radio’s headquarters on fire, they’d be justified; if they fired him for exposing himself to his superiors, they’d be justified. Even though he didn’t actually do any of those three things, those claims cannot be countered; they are not proven false even if the “If” part isn’t satisfied because assumed here is that if he did not do any of those things, he would not be fired for those things.
Those general claims, as well as your original general claim, are rather indisputable regardless of the facts of the case, but that wasn’t the context in which you made your claim. Your claim was an explicit “If…[then]” with an implicit, “[and the ‘If’ (Williams was/is a moron) has been satisfied here]”. In other words, you did not just make a claim, you made an argument: It is justifiable for national Public radio to fire someone for being a “f—ing moron”; Williams showed himself to be a “f—ing moron” in this case; therefore, it was justifiable to fire Williams if they did so for his being a “f—ing moron”.
To really make it clear, let’s say he really was a moron (I’m not conceding that here) such that firing him for it would be justified, but let’s also say that instead they fired him for stealing office supplies when he never actually pilfered anything, that would be an unjustified termination because, well, they fired him for an infraction of which he wasn’t guilty. The whole context of your claim was that he was guilty of the infraction of being a “f—ing moron”, and on that, I have said plenty.
“He can feel terrified all he wants”
He never said “terrified”, he said “nervous” and “worried”, which I think are significantly less intense.
“That a group of 19 Muslim religious extremists committed an atrocious act of terrorism in 2001 is not an excuse to confuse extremist terrorism with the rest of the billion plus Muslims on the planet.”
True for numerous reasons, but Williams didn’t do this, and later in that segment, he chastises O’Reilly for doing that very thing on his show. That alone convinces me that despite a momentary emotional response to certain stimuli in certain situations, he does not confuse the extremists with the rest. I’ve already gone over this multiple times, and I think I have successfully rebutted your reasons; you don’t.
“On the your defense against the ignorantiam charge, I think you're stretching credulity on the future tense business.”
I don’t think so, but that was really the icing on my defensive cake. The real thrust of my defense was in the paragraph before that one in which I state that I never made any truth claims about the issue.
It strikes me that you're not getting it. Let me try again:
If they fired him for having a mustache, they'd be justified (because he has a mustache).
That's basically it. You might have noticed that I never said that they should have fired him. So I don't agree with your further characterization. It's a separate question, in other words, whether being a moron constitutes sufficient grounds for firing. Probably not in fact. But hey, if it did constitute grounds for firing, he has satisfied that condition, therefore, he ought to be fired. But don't forget the if.
You don't think he was. I do. I've given my reasons, you've given yours.
To repeat, as I've said before, it was probably a bad idea to fire him.
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