Boo Effing Hoo

I'm not trying to horn in on Scott's rock'n'roll fallacy posts, (kudos and kleos for correct guesses for what song is in my head right now), but I think there's a sub-type of the ad misericordiam fallacy that we might name by the title of this post. I don't have an example in print right now, rather I've been running into this argument occasionally in conversation. It runs something like this.

No really, it runs something like this:

A: "We think X is bad because it places significant burdens on us."
B: "That's nothing we have had much greater burdens placed on us."

Or, colloquially:

B1: "Oh, Boo Effing Hoo, that's nothing compared to what we suffer."

So, there are some forms of this argument that might be reasonable, but when it is offered as a reason against rejecting X it seems to me to be fallacious, unless some sort of substantive premise, a "shared misery premise" is added. Something along the lines of:

B2: "It is your turn to share the burden that we have already endured."

But, as I've encountered it out in the irrational wildernesses of discourse, it seems often to be a nice variation on the ad miseridcordiam fallacy–a way of turning an assertion about burdens into a misery pissing contest.

8 thoughts on “Boo Effing Hoo”

  1. Gee Colin,

    Back in my day, we didn't have to have fallacy names for everything.  Besides, there were a lot more fallacies then, we just had to stick it out, so I don't know why you're complaining.

  2. Well, in my day, we didn't even have fallacies. All logical inferences were justified and everything was true.

  3. That's nothing! Back then we didn't even have logic. It was all "Thus saieth the Lord" and "thou shalt not" and "cast the runes" and "burn him at the stake."

  4. I wonder if there is a connection between the the ad misericordiam and the ad hominem tu quoque.
    Take this example:
    Kid: Mom, I don't like macaroni and cheese, can't I get a hot-dog instead?
    Mom: You know that there are kids in Africa that have nothing to eat? Go ahead and finish your lunch.
    The implication being: if you were that kid in Africa, you wouldn't complain about macaroni and cheese.

  5. You're right John … that's the one I meant: hypothetical tu quoque. Are Colin and Scott the same person? 🙂

  6. Yeah I was thinking of the same thing BN.

    "If you were in my shoes you wouldn't complain about X."

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