I’ve made the mistake of getting involved in more than one “debate” on Gun Control in the “Comments” sections of various news articles on the topic.
It’s interesting in that these sections, even at the most liberal of websites, one finds a great number of people advocating the conservative point of view. One sees the same names over and over again, to the point that you really have to wonder if these people are sitting at the computer all day, doing nothing but posting comments.
One also sees the same rhetorical fallacies coming up again and again. To help you spot them, counter them, and avoid them yourself, here’s a modest guide to some of the more common.
It happened again. Some nutcase arms himself to the eyebrows, goes to a place filled with people he doesn’t like, and shoots the place up.
There’s the usual shock and outrage that we (alas) have all heard before, followed by an assortment of finger-pointing that is intended to avoid having to deal with the difficult questions in the case.
Various pundits are in a tizzy because President Obama hasn’t yet used their specific favorite terminology – as if that would make a difference. Others trot out their usual pet causes, conveniently overlooking key facts. “Block Muslim immigration!” Er, the guy was born here. “Tighter background checks!” The guy was a security guard, and passed the standard checks as a condition of his employment.
Let’s face it. There’s nothing that we could have done that would have stopped this particular tragedy.