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Internet Non-Substitution Rule; Rosa Parks

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Nov. 3rd, 2008 | 06:37 pm

As well as a licence to use the phrase "ad hominem" in internet arguments, involving a short essay designed to illustrate that you are aware what it actually means, I am increasingly of the opinion that there should be one for using analogies too. Of course, some analogies will always be stronger than others, but some are just so pathetically weak that you have to wonder whether there's an actual misunderstanding of how an argument from analogy is supposed to work in the first place.

One simple rule that could help would be along the lines of "substituting 'black' or 'Jewish' for another group in an argument does not necessarily create a valid analogy". So, for instance, the following doesn't work:
"This march against male violence against women is wrong; if the BNP had a march against black violence against whites you'd be calling them racists wouldn't you?"
Similarly, "why don't we have a white history month?" et al. Taken to extremes one ends up with people actually saying things like "discriminating against Nazis makes you as bad as the Nazis".

There's also the "You Are Not Rosa Parks" principle, which might apply to cases such as, say, it being suggested to you that starting a thread linking to a piece on NHS provision for gender reassignment surgery entitled "Genda Benda" and referring to "deluded self-mutilators" does not, as it happens, count as "raising the issue for discussion". This principle might help you appreciate that quoting Chomsky on censorship is not an appropriate response to this.

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from: mordantcarnival
date: Nov. 3rd, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)

Oh God.

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