Whether we’re out at a restaurant with friends or family, or whether we’re on Facebook or some other social media platform, arguments break out. People state and restate their positions, spout slogans, make accusations, get progressively louder (or the print equivalent thereof) and seldom introduce new facts, alternate solutions, or anything at all that could lead to a compromise, or get the other party to actually change their mind.
That, itself, becomes part of the problem. We argue badly.
There’s one particular type of logical fallacy I’ve been noticing recently. It was prevalent in the Colin Kaepernick controversy, it’s popped up in the Confederate Flag argument, and in the current brouhaha between J.K. Rowling and the transgender community. It’s also been bandied about in the current argument about Starbucks v. BLM.
Maybe some people aren’t up to date on all of these. Starbucks recently told their employees not to wear any pins, emblems or anything like that supporting Black Lives Matter. Actually, I’m supporting Starbucks on this one. It’s a place of business, and it’s reasonable to expect their employees to serve everybody neutrally. Of course, if it’s JUST BLM stuff that’s barred, that’s pretty bad, but I suspect they’re not supposed to be wearing any political slogans at all. I can understand if somebody disagrees. But, saying “Their shitty coffee is overpriced anyway, I hate that place” is a completely irrelevant argument. We aren’t talking about their prices, or whether or not we dislike their product. That’s a different argument.
With J.K. Rowling, the trans community is up in arms because she made comments to the effect that trans women are not biologically identical to natural born women, and she doesn’t want them in women’s restrooms. I agree with the first half of that, disagree with the second, but saying “I hate the Harry Potter books, anyway, they are stupid and she’s not that great a writer” is a dumb argument. It has nothing to do with the issue.
When NASCAR banned the Confederate flag (which shocked the hell out of me, and was a very gutsy move on the part of NASCAR) one of their drivers, Ray Ciccarelli, resigned in protest. A lot of people have pointed out that he’s not exactly the highest ranked driver on the circuit. Completely irrelevant.
When Colin Kaepernick was frozen out of the NFL in 2017, clearly because of his protests against racism, a whole lot of people were saying “Well, he wasn’t that great a quarterback anyway.” Not true, but more importantly, not relevant. Are you for or against the cause he’s supporting. Or, do you think the National Anthem is a sacred thing. That’s the argument. Let the sports experts argue about who’s a great quarterback, as they do, but don’t pretend one thing has anything to do with the other.
If we all could just stick to the point, I think the quality of our arguments would improve. They might even rise to the level of intelligent discussion.