Tag Archives: Robert Brady

Argument by Tu Quoque Analogy

Cal Thomas has conjoined two fallacy forms, and it will make all attentive readers smile.  After hearing that Robert Brady (D-PA) has proposed a bill outlawing threatening elected officials, Thomas sees some analogies… some analogies that show some hypocrisies.

In the 1980s when conservative groups tried to "clean up" the bad language, sexual references and violence on TV, the Left cried "censorship." When conservatives campaigned against pornography and "music" that encouraged violence against women and racial epithets, they were told a healthy First Amendment required that even the most offensive speech be tolerated. It was the same argument used to allow the burning of the American flag at political protests. But the Left is intolerant of speech it disagrees with and so wishes to censor what it cannot overcome with superior argument.

Fallacy double-dipping.  Faulty analogy used in order to fix a premise for tu quoque.  It takes a special talent, you see.

The first problem is that Brady's bill is just extending the protections that are already given to the President to other officials.  For sure, enforcing it requires some judgment, but, you know, so do most laws governing speech (e.g., libel).  The crucial thing is that there's a difference between language that contributes to icky culture (profanity, obscenity, sexist and racist language) and language promoting violence on an individual.  This bill is only about the latter. So Thomas' analogy is way too thin to show a real inconsistency here.

Second, by saying that the Left (who says Democrats are of the Left, anyhow?) censors language they can't defeat by argument, is Thomas thinking that this bill extends to criticism?  It certainly seems so.  But that's not what Brady was talking about.  It was about threatening, not disagreeing with, refuting, or holding wrong.  Maybe that's just how Thomas does it, but most folks make that distinction.  I'd noted earlier that Thomas, when warned about tone, seems to get more aggressive.  He thinks he's being censored, not just criticized or given some advice.  (Nothing causes Thomas to be more caustic than his being told that he maybe could try to tone it down.)