Friday, May 30, 2008

The Right to Be Offended

More fall out from the mocking of Hillary. This from the cleric who preceded the Rev. Pfleger on the stage at Trinity United:

As a woman, I was offended by Pfleger's mocking of Senator Clinton for showing emotion.

Oh, boo hoo. Leave it to a woman to get all emotional over the mocking of someone else's emotions.

All right, cheap shot there. But the Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite leaves herself open to that kind of criticism by shoving her gender in our faces. If it is an intolerable offense to stereotype one's behavior based on gender, why is she brandishing her gender as a special qualification to be offended? If you can produce the evidence that emotional response does not vary by gender, it doesn't matter who is delivering the message. Your gender confers no special status on assertions of the truth or the permission to be offended.

I take Thistethwaite's words as a variation of the logical fallacy known as Appeal to Authority:

the type of argument in logic consisting on basing the truth value of an assertion on the authority, knowledge, expertise, or position of the person asserting it. It is also known as argument from authority, argumentum ad verecundiam (Latin: argument to respect) or ipse dixit (Latin: he himself said it). It is one method of obtaining propositional knowledge, but a fallacy in regard to logic, because the validity of a claim does not follow from the credibility of the source.

Democrats in particular are fond of this tactic. It can be used to elevate identity politics, or a perceived victim status, as the absolute moral authority on any issue and it can be used to silence rational debate in favor of emotionalism (see usage of "shut up you Chickenhawk").

My understanding of the rules of logic cannot confirm whether you can properly use yourself, or the presence of your two X chromosomes, as an appeal to authority. Perhaps Thistlethwaite's "as a woman" qualification can more properly be defined as an Appeal to Gynecology.

Coincidentally, this particular logical fallacy is being used right here in Minnesota on another burning issue for the 2008 election. This from Rep. Betty McCollum (DFL-St. Paul):

As a woman, a mother, a former teacher, and an elected official, I find this material completely unacceptable," McCollum said of Franken's piece, published in 2000 under the headline "Porn-O-Rama!"

Wow, a quadruple play of special offense qualifications! It's the rare Appeal to Gynecology, Maternity, Pedagogy, and Democracy.

I take her remarks to mean that since I'm not a women, mother, teacher or elected official, I have no right to be offended at Porn-O-Rama! Duly noted. We bow down before her well earned offense and make a note to review Chad the Elder's archives of old Playboy's for a guilt free reading of that article. (He assures me he only reads Playboy Magazine for the Al Franken articles).

Breaking news, Rep. McCollum released another statement on this issue:

"As a parent and an aunt, and talking to other parents, people are very concerned about the type of Internet use that's out there, and how it has a potentially harmful effect on children"

As an aunt? Yes, it's the Appeal to Sibling Fertility! I qualify for that one! And I look forward to proudly standing next to Betty McCollum in the upcoming March of the Righteously Offended to Condemn Al Franken.

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