The Devil's Argument
One of the most annoying attributes of almost every presidential campaign during
the primary season is the ubiquity of the logical fallacy known as the False Dilemma.
During the early stages of the Republican primary season, for instance, a disturbing number of my discussions with people about which candidate to support ended with a classic false dilemma: "If you're not for _____, then you must be for Jeb!" This was back when former Florida governor Jeb Bush was considered the party's front-runner (yeah, that actually happened). No matter how much time I devoted to explaining that my lack of interest in _____ didn't mean Jeb! was my only other choice, I was never able to break through to such people. That's why logical fallacies become popular,
of course: They give the person using them an excuse to avoid any further thought.
Once the GOP field had been winnowed, we heard non-stop variations on this theme heading into primaries in Ohio, Florida, Missouri, and Illinois. Dressed up with the label "strategic voting," the argument was that a vote for anyone OTHER THAN _____ was in fact a vote for asshat Donald Trump. There is scant evidence that any GOP primary voters found that argument compelling, but the campaigns continued to push it right up until the Indiana Primary on May 3, the results of which caused Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich to suspend their campaigns.
|"Your liberty will die screaming, I promise you!"|
That version of the false dilemma fallacy has intensified significantly since Cruz and Kasich dropped out.
We are told that no matter how much we revile Trump we must still vote for him come November or else "President Hillary" will be OUR fault somehow.
|"I'll be a YUUUUUGE disaster as president, that I can tell you."|
That argument didn't persuade many voters, either.
And now that the two major parties appear to have selected their candidates, the fallacy is being trumpeted (pun intended) almost non-stop. In particular, Trump supporters
use it as their finishing move in any disagreement about his fitness as a candidate.
They bang that fallacy down on the table like it is trump (pun intended) in a card game.
It certainly isn't, at least not for me.
1996 film version of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible (for which Miller himself wrote the screenplay), the amazing Joan Allen plays Elizabeth Proctor, wife of Daniel Day-Lewis's John Proctor.
Late in the film, Elizabeth is offered her own release from jail and the sparing of John's life if she can convince him to publicly admit to the Salem prosecutors his personal involvement in witchcraft.
When she resists, Reverend Hale pleads with her, telling her to have John tell the lie publicly, but to believe otherwise in his heart. Elizabeth responds by saying "I think that be the Devil's argument."
Telling me that if I pursue any other option than a vote for Trump (third-party candidate, write-in vote, or even just an abstention) I am responsible for the election of Hillary Clinton is not only an instance of the false dilemma fallacy, it is also the Devil's argument. Regardless of what happens in the election, I will not betray beliefs I have held my entire adult life. I need to look myself in the mirror the day after the election...
|"So, just to be clear, you won't be voting for Donald Trump OR Hillary Clinton?"|
That would be correct...
|St. John of Avila, by Pierre Hubert Subleyras|
May 10 is the feast day of St. John of Ávila. John was always a favorite of mine because of his reputation as a powerful speaker and writer.
Among his other good works, John was a spiritual advisor to St. Teresa of Ávila,
St. Francis Borgia, and St. John of God.
St. John was canonized by Pope Paul VI on May 31, 1970, just as my junior year of high school was drawing to a close. He was named Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI on October 7, 2012.
Wild Kingdom Bed & Breakfast Update
|"Hey, you can't blame a guy for trying, right?"|
One of the more amusing sights is one of the grackles who seems to believe that he can use the same bird feeders designed to be used by the sparrows and finches.
He is far too big for them, of course, but it is funny watching him try to keep his balance while bending down to eat. Invariably he'll lose his grip and fly off in frustration. But he always tries again the next day...
The rest of his grackle buddies simply eat the plentiful food laying around on the patio itself (and probably make jokes about his inept efforts).
From the pen of Lisa Benson, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.
Until Next Time...From time to time in my life there have been record albums which happened to perfectly capture my mood at a given moment, and thus became constant listens and eventually lifelong favorites.
I had been aware of the British band Dire Straits beginning in the early 1980s, and thought guitarist Mark Knopfler was one of the most amazing players I had ever heard, but I didn't purchase any of their records until I moved to Wyoming in the fall of 1983. In the spring of my first year teaching there, the band released Alchemy: Dire Straits Live, a two-disc live album that perfectly suited my loneliness at the time (I lived 800 miles away from my family and friends back in Missouri). The incredible live version of the band's big hit "Sultans of Swing" remains a favorite to this day thanks to Knopfler's brilliant guitar-playing.
In 1985 the band released Brothers in Arms, their most commercially successful album (it spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and received multiple platinum certifications from RIAA). But there were also stories about tension within the band, so
it didn't really come as a shock when the band announced its breakup in the fall of 1988, not long after I had gotten married. That was upsetting, as by this time they were one of my all-time favorite bands (not an easy club to be chosen for).
In 1991 I was living in Kansas City with my wife and our son (born in 1990) when the band got back together and recorded what would turn out to be their final studio album, On Every Street. The album was kind of a dud commercially, but it had several songs
I enjoyed, including the title track. Those songs were a reminder that the band was over, though, so there was always a sort of wistfulness I associated with them.
Fortunately, the band's final tour in support of their final album included dates in France and The Netherlands which were filmed and recorded in early May of 1993.
On the Night, a live album culled from those two performances.
It included several songs from the On Every Street album, as well as some of the band's other big hits.
The version of "Brothers in Arms" included on this album is a lifelong favorite (and was the send-off song for the June 14 post last year), but it is their version of "On Every Street" that still causes me to tear up every time I hear it.
Not long after On the Night was released my marriage began disintegrating, and that particular song touched something in me that is still there to this day...
Today's send-off is the live version of the song from that final concert tour. It is in my iTunes "Tearjerkers" playlist, and if you listen to the lyrics, you won't have much trouble figuring out which lines invariably get me choked up. Enjoy...