Have you ever noticed that when liberals offer two arguments for a liberal idea, the two often completely contradict each other?
Example 1: All jobs should have just as many women as men. If they don’t — if statistics show that more construction workers or police officers or professional boxers or whatever are men — the only possible explanation is sexist discrimination. And then they almost always say, “There is no difference between men and women. And besides, women offer a unique perspective.” Right? I’ve heard pretty much those exact words a thousand times.
Except that if women have a “unique perspective”, then they are not exactly the same as men. To have a different perspective, they must be … different. And once you concede that women are different from men, in ways that you are clearly implying are relevant to this job, it follows that there might be jobs that women tend to do better than men, and jobs that men tend to better than women.
Example 2: Capital punishment is cruel and barbaric. Besides, conservatives should be satisfied with sentencing murderers to life in prison, because life in prison is harsher than execution. Instead of a quick end, you keep the criminal locked up and subject to continual punishment for decades.
Except that if you believe capital punishment is evil because it is too cruel, how can you then say you are in favor of an alternative that you tell me is more cruel? Either you’re lying, and you don’t really believe that life in prison is harsher than execution, or you are irrational and incoherent.
Example 3: You can’t mix religion and politics. If you have religious beliefs against abortion or homosexuality or whatever, that’s fine, you can talk about that in your church on Sunday, but don’t try to pass laws based on your religious beliefs. Besides, if you were a real Christian, you’d support government programs to help the poor and protect the environment, because Jesus said to help the poor and that the Earth was created by God and we should respect it.
Except that if it’s wrong to pass laws against abortion and homosexuality based on personal religious beliefs, than why is it not wrong to pass laws about aid to the poor and protecting the environment based on religious belief? If you believe that we should protect the environment, that’s fine, you can talk about that in your church on Sunday, but don’t try to pass laws based on your religious beliefs. Indeed, I was about to say that I was in favor of anti-poverty and pro-environment laws, until you convinced me that that would be an improper mixing of church and state. Now I have to oppose on principle. 🙂
Et cetera. One could go on and on with these. I encourage you to watch for them!
Side note: Perhaps I should clarify that this is not the same as an argument that goes, “That’s not true, but even if it was true …” Yes, the premises in such a case contradict, but the person who says this isn’t saying that either case proves his point, but that the claim is irrelevant or insufficient. To take a deliberately silly example, suppose someone said, “We should hire Sally Jones because she is so pretty.” You might well reply, “I don’t think she’s all that pretty. And even if she was, that’s not a good reason to hire her for a job as an accountant.” You aren’t arguing that being ugly makes her qualified for the job and being pretty also qualifies her for the job, but that either one is irrelevant. Or maybe that while you’d like to have a pretty girl around, that alone isn’t sufficient to make her qualified. She has to be pretty and be able to do the job.Tags: Critical thinking Liberalism Politics