Friday, 3 February 2012

On false equivalencies

A public service announcement, in absolutely no way inspired by the current debate over Komen’s funding of Planned Parenthood, follows:

If you are comparing your contemporary domestic political opponents (say, pro-choicers or pro-lifers) to the Viet Cong, the Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, or the Taliban, it seems to me that one of two conclusions obtain:

  1. You should be willing to support the same level of political violence against the contemporary domestic opponents as you would against the other actors. For example, a pro-lifer who believes that Planned Parenthood is morally equivalent to the Nazis who would support assassinating concentration camp guards should also be willing to support assassinating doctors who perform abortions; similarly, a pro-choicer who thinks someone who supports sonogram bills is the moral equivalent of the Taliban, who supports the targeted killing of Taliban fighters in AfPak, should also support killing politicians who support sonogram bills.
  2. Or, if you are unwilling to take your positions to their logical conclusion, you should tone down your rhetoric so that the apparent equivalency you have expressed is no longer seen by external observers as an equivalency. Or, if you are unable to do so, just be quiet.

This might, for example, also apply to anyone who argues that supporters of Voter ID laws are channeling the spirit of Lester Maddox, or anyone who says that people who support socializing the costs of medicine are latter day Che Guevaras.