I lived in the UK when Bush The Younger was president. To say the British chattering classes sneered at Americans who elected “that cowboy” would be like saying that I miss cruising the web for Israeli supermodels for metaphorical linkage. I mean real linkage for metaphors. See how tricky words can be? They can be even trickier when an anti-gun agitator uses them to manipulate readers’ political perspective. Here’s an excellent example of the rhetorical device known as the fallacy of false choice, written by a breed of Yank I met whilst living in The Land of Hope and Glory (the self-loathing American) . . .
The [Colorado] recall results on 10 September will be about more than the electoral fate of these two senators. It will speak to the kind of country we want America to be, and will signal the future political power of the NRA. Do we value the right to have high-capacity magazines more than the rights of children to be safe when they go to school? Will we allow the gun industry undue influence in our democratic process? And will NRA money be defeated in the American west?
The scribe, Dawn DiPrince, writes for the left-leaning Guardian. While we thank the UK broadsheet for giving Mr. Snowdon a chance to expose the fact that the NSA knows which porn sites we prefer, their anti-gun stance is as anti-freedom as their NSA whistle-blowing is pro-liberty. But you knew that.
Guardian readers who don’t [really] qualify for the latter part of the Armed Intelligentsia moniker will fall right into DiPrince’s logical fallacy. The polemical prose above offers a choice between “high-capacity” (a.k.a., standard capacity) magazines and the “rights” of kids to be safe. First, what right? Second, who says we have to choose?
Ms. DiPrince, of course. And her ilk. People whose desire for civilian disarmament blinds them to the fact that guns save life. That “shall not be infringed” means that Americans have the right to own any damn magazine they please. That Colorado’s version of the Second Amendment (Art. II, § 13) also says nothing indicating the legislature’s ability to limit magazine capacity.
Despite the fact that millions of citizens own tens of millions of 30-round detachable rifle magazines without ill intent or incident, Ms. DiPrince reckons “high capacity magazines” = evil. So that’s how she frames the debate.
Only it’s not a debate, is it? It’s the fallacy of false choice. Support gun control or your kid will die at the hands of an active shooter. Like that.
Ms. DiPrince also trots-out what car salesman call the “assumptive close.” “Will we allow the gun industry undue influence in our democratic process?” assumes that we (whoever that may be) are allowing the gun industry undue influence in our democratic process (Constitutional republic that it is). Hey DiPrince! Define “undue,” ’cause I’m thinking you’re using that term to mean influence with which you don’t agree.
“Will NRA money be defeated in the American West?” assumes that NRA money is responsible for the Colorado recall election. It isn’t. The campaign was and is a grass roots effort. But hey, if the NRA wants to write some checks to exercise the checks and balances provide by the Colorado state constitution, I say gopher it.
I for one am eager to see the ugliness of this fight to leave my usually friendly community. But even more, I hope that we will unite on the side of our children and with our legislators’ courageous leadership against corporate bullies.
And I hope that there will come a day when the anti-gunners to stop bending the language to disguise an emotional appeal as rational thinking. You don’t have to read her final paragraph to know that ain’t gonna happen. But rest assured TTAG will be there to slap some sense into these people. Metaphorically speaking.