Saturday, April 24, 2010

Did you notice? Timothy McVeigh & Tea Partiers both begin with T?

All fallacious arguments are a form of intellectual transgression related to "Overgeneralization" or "The argument of the beard." You may be unfamiliar with the second of these which always tickles me.

It's power derives from the apparent impossibility of distinguishing at precisely what point an unkempt spread of hair on an adolescent's face becomes a beard. "How many hairs does it take to make a beard?" "Oh, you can't answer me then you don't know the difference between Mr. Clean and Allen Ginsburg."

Propagandists of all sorts love using the argument from the beard. It assumes that people cannot perceive important distinctions or distinguish one thing from another. The politics of personal destruction rely heavily on these two intellectual acts of malice aforethough--- whether from left or right. Mark Steyn does a masterful and fun job at illustrating.

Here's a taste: [Democrats are trying to shore up the President's popularity by dismissing or trashing his opposition.] "Hence, Bill Clinton energetically on the stump, summoning all his elder statesman’s dignity (please, no giggling) in the cause of comparing tea partiers to Timothy McVeigh. Oh, c’mon, they’ve got everything in common. They both want to reduce the size of government, the late Mr. McVeigh through the use of fertilizer bombs, the tea partiers through control of federal spending, but these are mere nuanced differences of means, not ends. Also, both “Tim” and “Tea” are three-letter words beginning with “T”: Picture him upon your knee, just Tea for Tim and Tim for Tea, you’re for him and he’s for thee, completely interchangeable. To lend the point more gravitas, President Clinton packed his reading glasses and affected his scholarly look, with the spectacles pushed down toward the end of his nose, as if he’s trying to determine whether that’s his 10 a.m. intern shuffling toward him across the broadloom or a rabid armadillo Al Gore brought along for the Earth Day photo op." Enjoy the full column here.


  1. I say that's trouble! And that starts with T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pool!

  2. Very good...why didn't I think of that? Too true.