Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A failure of reason

Mountain Goat complains here
that the people of Idaho at the behest of a few politicians and people like Steven Thayn, told me and my family that, not only were we not good enough, we were so not good enough that the Idaho Constitution should be changed to reflect the fact that we would never be good enough.
MG says she took this personally because it affected her and her family personally, and that justifies her exposing Thayn's son's domestic abuse problem. That's a personal problem of the Thayn family. Thayn has placed family issues in play, so his family issues should also be in play. (Put another way, "Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.")

Anyway, the ever vigilant Adam has attempted to counter MG's argument here.
If we personalize politics, where does it end? I suppose I should take Carte Blanche with pro-choice politicians to go and visit county courthouses where they’ve lived and dig for dirt, and search for anyway I can to ruin their lives. The reason is that abortion is very personal to me. After all, every pro-abortion person is of the opinion that had my mother (who would never in a million years consider the thought) decided to have me killed that would be okay. Or, even a politician who raises my taxes. I could say, “You take money out of pocket, you cause me pain. I’ll cause you pain by finding out something embarrassing about you.” Heck, I think even smokers who can’t smoke in Bowling Alleys or nearly every restaurant in the state could take vengeance.
Adam doesn't directly refute MG's point about personalization. He doesn't say that MG's logic is flawed, he just posts up a few logical fallacies of his own in an obfuscation effort.

First, saying "where does it end" is employing the slippery slope argument; this step leads to all these others. Wrong. The second step does not follow inevitably from the first. Legislating that your family will have the permanent status as second class is not the same as supporting abortion rights. One effects behavior, the other is just an opinion. If we legislated that Adam's family must abort every other child, that would be an equivalent argument. It's a fallacious slippery slope argument, and it doesn't even meet the point head on. If the legislature passed an amendment that said African-Americans or Mormons would not be allowed to marry, is that the same as believing that women should be able to get a safe and legal abortion if necessary? Of course not.

Next, Adam misstates the pro choice position; classic straw man. Put up a phony argument, attribute it to the other side, then knock it down. Another fallacy. To paraphrase Adam, he says every "pro-abortion person" believes that it would be okay for Adam's mom to have had him killed. Of course, saying every is akin to saying never or always; hyperbole and overstatement. Also, many if not most and perhaps all pro-choice folks agree that abortion is a serious act to be used only when there are no other options.

Adam next equates imposing taxes and outlawing smoking with relegating a family to permanent second class status. Taxes are not levied based on a person's individual characteristics. You're not taxed on blond hair, or beards. The smoking argument would be equivalent only if the legislature ruled that smokers cannot get married.

Adam calls MG's response a "perceived personal afront." No, it's not just perceived. She actually cannot get a marriage license to marry her sweetheart.

To close, Adam refers to MG's Thayn posts as "hyper-personalized politics where reason was abandonned to embrace a politics of anger and emotion." I think Adam has, if not abandoned reason, certainly failed to employ reason in his effort to stick up for Thayn.


MountainGoat said...

Thanks for this rational and logical response; you've said it much more succinctly than I could have. Sad to say, but I've nearly given up on attempting a logical discussion with Adam.

Adam Graham said...

Adam doesn't directly refute MG's point about personalization.

Actually I did. I wrote:

Of course, what she doesn't quite get around to in this post is that those who passed the Idaho Marriage Amendment were not targeting her. They had a different view of what family policy ought to look like in Idaho. Thus the difference between disagreement and maliciousness.

She's personalizing it because she's chosen to personalize it, because it was not about her. It's the height of egotism to suggest it is.

As to your abortion stance.

"Also, many if not most and perhaps all pro-choice folks agree that abortion is a serious act to be used only when there are no other options."

Tell me, do you have any concrete data? Is it your stance that there ought to be a department of Abortion that determines when it's appropriate and when it is not?

Is that why every time the pro-life movement mentions a woman who got an abortion to fit into a wedding dress, that there's a shocked, "How dare you judge her" response rather than a, "You know that's a lousy reason to get an abortion." response.

Regardless, this sad attempt to defend an argument based on how a decison was not passed to personally target her is sad, particlarly in the name of reason when it's really little more than shallow justification for becoming a political hatchet woman.

Alan said...

It's not personal only when you are the specific named target; it's also personal when it effects you personally. Yes, your examples effect people personally but not in the same way or to the same extent. My point is that MG is justified in exposing the same aspect of Thayn's life that Thayn affected in MG's life, in a deeply personal and far-reaching way.

My stance about abortion is that Roe v. Wade got it as right as it can be gotten. Early, between the woman and her doc. Later, when the baby can survive outside the womb, the state's interest in the child is heightened and more control is justified.

No, I have no concrete data. Just that every pro-choice person, without exception, with whom I've discussed abortion believes just as I stated. Having an abortion just to fit into a wedding dress is not a good reason. Do you have any documented cases of that?

Saying things like "sad attempt" and "shallow justification" don't help your credibility. Adjectives are pretty easy to string together.

Adam Graham said...

Wait a second, so why do you get to be the arbiter of which legislative action that personally offends me and hurts me is subject to my wrath and my attempts to totally destroy their lives and ruin their families?

What if I say, "We currently have the 37th best business tax environment in the country. If we had a better environment for business and less taxes, I'd make more money work, and I'd have more money to save. Because of the Idaho legislatures that block reform, I don't make enough and I pay too much taxes, and you're making it hard for the wife and I to get money to adopt a child. Therefore, I can go after your children."

This is an emotional argument, however you cut it. There's no logic and reason to it. If you want to allege any logic, then let's be clear, it's not the logic of a civil society. It's the "logic" of vengeance, it's the logic of civil wars. It's the logic of medieval countries, and blood feuds. It's the type of logic that leads to the destruction of civil society, and the breakdown of order, as recriminations escalate.

As to the Wedding Dress, the LA Times actually had an article on an abortion clinic in Arkansas. While the article isn't online anymore. A blogger included posted the article with his comments:


His first patient of the day, Sarah, 23, says it never occurred to her to use birth control, though she has been sexually active for six years. When she became pregnant this fall, Sarah, who works in real estate, was in the midst of planning her wedding. "I don't think my dress would have fit with a baby in there," she says.

Adjectives are easy, you're right. The fact remains that MGR chose to intentionally harm the wife of Damon Thayn and his child in order to prove a political point.

That's all I got to say.

Sara E Anderson said...

So the crime isn't hitting your wife - it's exposing the criminal who hits his wife. Women aren't hurt by their abusers, they're hurt by public acknowledgement of their pain.

I never thought I'd see someone so publicly rooting for a domestic abuser.

Adam Graham said...

Well, first of all, Sara, I find the idea that somehow MGR did this for the wife or for the family specious and she hasn't made the argument.

The issue has been worked out between the Thayns at this point. She was hurt by the abuse, but having some spiteful blogger publicly make a name for herself by exposing her pain and lessening your husband's economic and job prospects as you're expecting a new child only adds insult to the injury.

It's not about exposing domestic abuse. If there were MGR's goal, she could post a complete list of everyone convicted of it.

Anonymous said...

Adam is incorrect on so many things here, I will merely pick out the two most egregious from here and his own post.

First, Adam, you are the naive one if you do not believe that the "Marriage Amendment" were NOT targeting MG and family plus anyone else who does not conform to those "acceptable" parameters to the religious right. PERSONALLY attacked? ABSOLUTELY.

Second, when Theyn or any other pious political A-hole spouts "family values" but does not keep his own house in order should not only be revealed, but pilloried for the most common crime in America, hypocrisy. Otherwise, by your standard, folks like Drudge and Malkin should be out of work too.

Finally, let's just dispense with the morality canard the Republicans toss out. By any standard, Republican public figures rate about a 2 to 1 advantage vs. Democrats when it comes to scandal. Money, Sex (including the weird bathroom stall stuff), Deceit.

Sisyphus said...

So difficult and ethically questionable to have a battle of logic with an unarmed man. Adam, as a representative of the the party that believes wholeheartedly in less government why do you insist that government be expanded to intrude into peoples' personal lives? Here Thayn, and the Idaho House by appointing him, have suggested without any authority that active governmental intervention is necessary for the preservation of the "traditional family" unit and is the primary method to solve societal ills like domestic abuse. The fallacy of that position was unequivocally demonstrated by MG when she published the very public information regarding Thayn's own son's arrest for that crime despite the fact that he was raised in such a traditional family whose virtues Thayn had used himself in a Statesman article just the week before to sell the proposals of the Idaho Family Task Force. Indeed Thayn arguably had a duty to make the arrest disclosure himself since one of the proposals of the Task Force was to revisit the availability of restraining orders associated with domestic abuse allegations. This disclosure he didn't make. So MG disclosed not only hypocrisy but also questionable ethics of a sittng lawmaker. I'm certainly not going to fault her for making relevant contributions to the public policy debate or disclosing the questionable ethics of a major decisionmaker in that debate. Indeed she deserves an award.

Adam, you and the rest of the Idaho Taliban need to quit using government to impose your fantastical view of the perfect world on the rest of us. And it feels strange to have to tell you this, but there are just some areas where government is completely ineffectual in rearing its ugly head.

Republicans have to leave women alone. Quit interfering in what they do with their bodies, who they live with, whether they can work, who they can sleep with, what doctors they can choose, and who they can marry. But for God's sake allow them to have the tools they need to avoid physical abuse which you freely acknowledge is gender based.

I really can't believe you had the temerity to blame MG for lessening Damon Thayn's job prospects because he beat his wife. What a loathsome statement.

Serephin said...

To Adam, hero to those who religiously practice self-inflicted ignorance:

Re: "The Wedding Dress"...

I'll see you one dress, and raise you a passel of anecdotes collected by Joyce Arthur. There, you'll find numerous stories of ardent anti-choice women who believe it's OK when they have an abortion, but when other women do so they're evil, God-forsaken sluts doomed to Hell. (You know -- the kinda babes that rock your world, Grammy).

Once again, a few of the homeschooled give the rest a poor reputation...

MountainGoat said...

Wow. I'm glad I tuned back in since my name seems to be flying freely here. I'll just add a couple of additional points since you've all done a wonderful job of explaining my position.

If my goal was to maliciously hurt any of the Thayns:
1) Don't you think I would have published that information the minute I learned of it in April? It would have been juicy news then...just after the defeat of the daycare legislation. Thayn was big news. It only became relevant when he used the argument that divorce causes domestic violence in the Statesman article.

2) I also would have published the entire police report and several other juicy pieces of information I learned that would have been interesting but very hurtful and just not relevant. It's called discretion.

Your arguments frankly are just not true Adam...and maybe show just a little projection here, hmmmm? I don't need to hurt people to make a name for myself; my work speaks for itself. Even the AP picked up the story...it was news. There is no need for you to be spiteful; in fact it's very unbecoming.

It's so easy to justify your position when the people you're targeting are faceless. The marriage amendment hurt people and I'm one of them. How exactly did preventing me from having the legal benefits of marriage save your marriage?

Serephin said...

MG asked: "How exactly did preventing me from having the legal benefits of marriage save your marriage?"

It prevented him from leaving his wife and shacking up with Larry Craig in a darling little bungalow on Fire Island?

Purely conjecture, mind you...

MountainGoat said...


But seriously, I wanted to clarify something that may have been a little overlooked here. I know it's kind of complicated so I'll try to simplify.

Adam states my argument thus:
Since politics affected MG personally, MG feels justified attacking Steve Thayn personally.

That is/was not my argument in my self-described rant. The argument was:
Separating people from politics is impossible. (Then I use the marriage amendement as an example of how politics has personally affected me, but really anyone could use their own example.) Then the argument continues, and here's where if you're not paying attention you could get lost,
if (a politician) says (my family is a model family)
and if (the politican) says (domestic violence) is caused by (non-traditional families)
and if (the politician's son) who was raised in a not (non-traditional family) is found to have committed (domestic violence)
and if (the politican) doesn't mention that when disparaging (non-traditional families)
then (that politician) is open to criticism.

The two arguments are very different.