There are a lot more fallacies, but that is not why I am writing this. What I want to address is what I see as a cousin of the "straw man." I'll call it the "blow-off fallacy." It is becoming more and more prevalent and it really seems to have gained a foothold as a result of the gay rights movement.
(Here is where I stop and point out that I am addressing is not the issue of gay rights but the means of arguing about the issue. People can and will hold whatever stance you want to on gay rights or gay marriage; I just want them to argue about it logically.)
Probably the most common argument in favor of gay marriage is: "What do you care? It doesn't affect you!" This is the "blow-off fallacy."
|I would have liked to have watch Lincoln and Douglas|
Does the acceptance of gay marriage cause heterosexuals to fall over and die? -- does it poison the water supplies? -- does it cause hurricanes, as some religious nuts have implied? -- does it cause straight people to turn gay? No, of course not. But it, culturally, affects all of us. Using the blow-off fallacy to defend it is just bad form and, on top of that, it may just be counter-productive to supporters: it belittles the very idea and it makes that very thing being supported seem like "no big deal." Ask a gay couple, who can now get married, if it is a big deal to them. Ask parents of children (Louis CK attempts to ridicule this idea with a scathing blow-off argument) how much more difficult it is to explain sexuality, in general, to their kids, now.
Just today, the news is buzzing with a story about a high school freshman who brought a home-made clock into school. The kid got arrested. He claims the clock was something he made to impress his teachers. Ultimately, the kid got arrested for fear it was a bomb. I heard a commenter say the kid got punished for being named Ahmed Mohamed and for being creative. Well, that is a blow-off fallacy, to me (along with a few others). (I suppose it is a blow-off fallacy that dances with straw man, as well...but it has a blow-off element.)
I'm not implying the kid is a terrorist. My instinct as a teacher and as an administrator is that he is what my grandmother would have called a "nudge" (the "u" should be pronounced like the double-Os in "took") who is really smart and who probably knew he would cause a row by bringing in something that people might mistake as a bomb -- but this is all just a gut feeling.
I'll tell you one thing this incident is not; it is not "no big deal." I'm not aguing that the kid needed to be arrested, because I don't think he needed to be; a call to the parents and maybe even a police visit to look around in the kid's room, to be sure, would have been sufficient. (Not because he is a Muslim. That would be going after me with "straw man.")
I do take the safety of my kids, in my school, very seriously. This incident can't be blown off. Therefore, we can't use the blow-off fallacy to defend the kid; we need to defend him in another way, or we risk making the act of bringing in things that look like bombs seem like harmless fun -- which is it certainly not.
It is a shame that this young man is a Muslim, because that fuels the prejudice of the masses and if (note the "if") he did this (as my instincts suggest) to be a "nudge," he needs a severe talking-to by his mom, dad, or grandparents for having fed into stereotype.
Butthe fact remains that it is a big deal, as is the shift into legal gay marriage. Both are a very big deal and, for their respective reasons, need to be seen that way in order to do the issues justice.
A little ad hoc fun (ad hoc at :39, but it is all funny):