Politics, shallow reasoning and intimidation

Roger Scruton offers some interesting perspectives on the push to legitimize homosexual relationships. I am not commenting on homosexuality, per se, in this little article, nor the trend toward homosexual marriage. Rather, I want to draw attention to Scruton’s observations about the tactics that are utilized by those seeking to bring about this transformation.

Very briefly, he claims intimidation is an all-too-common strategy, backed by shallow reasoning.

For instance,

If we ask ourselves how it is that the advocacy of gay marriage has become an orthodoxy to which all our political leaders subscribe, we must surely acknowledge that intimidation has some part to play in the matter. Express the slightest hesitation on this score and someone will accuse you of “homophobia”, while others will organise to ensure that, even if nothing else is known about your views, this at least will be notorious.

He goes on,

And some of us are troubled by the shallow reasoning that has dominated the political discussions surrounding this move, as though the threadbare idea of equality were enough to settle every question concerning the long-term destiny of mankind and as though the writings of the anthropologists … counted for nothing beside the slogans of Stonewall.

Notice two things in these quotes. First, the reasoning behind this political activism is, in his opinion, quite shallow. The arguments that are being provided by the homosexual activists, or those who support them, simply are not rigorous or compelling in themselves.

Secondly, this lack of persuasive arguments is probably due, in part, to the fact that reason is not the most effective tool of this political movement, intimidation is. The fact that some people will attack you and belittle you for your views is a reality I describe in Arguing with Friends. I call it the rhetorical tactic of demonizing the other guy. While I provide some general comments about it in the book, Roger Scruton describes a clear example of it in action.

The entire approach of focusing on intimidation instead of sound arguments is not unlike a previous post I wrote about the tendency to overemphasize theatre over reason. Again, sound arguments took a distant back seat to drama and emotional manipulation.

What’s the take-away?

  • Learn to recognize these kinds of tactics
  • Do not be swayed by these kinds of tactics
  • Ensure your own reasoning is sound and avoid the temptation to use intimidation or rely solely on drama

That’s all, class dismissed.

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