Last week I wrote a blog challenging Alan Colmes of Fox News for his habitual use of bad logic to refute those who find fault with liberals. More specifically I said Colmes almost always responds to those who criticize the Left by simply saying, “The Right did it too.” I concluded by arguing that talking about you never exonerates me and complaining about someone else’s bad behavior never justifies mine.
Well, in response to my posting another blogger named Strider33 said this: “Perhaps Alan's … point is that Democrats … [are simply] the lesser of two evils … [and] as far as lapses of logic goes, there are a lot of people whose rhetoric is effective even while their logic is glaringly false. Persuasion and legitimate argument aren't the same thing.”
But here is my problem with Strider: If your logic is flawed, i.e., fallacious, it is by definition misleading and it distracts from the truth rather than leads toward it. Moreover, if Colmes and others want to argue that Democrats are the lesser of two evils then they should construct a cogent argument to that effect rather than distracting from the matter by justifying one bad deed by simply referencing another. In the extreme their tactic is akin to Stalin being criticized for genocide and defending himself by saying Hitler and Mussolini did it too. Or Southern plantation owners being challenged for owning slaves and saying that some in the north do the same. Or me beating my dog and when called on the carpet responding by pointing to Michael Vick as justification. All of this ad populum sleight of hand is intended to distract from the truth rather than shine a light on it. We should therefore call it what it is—a lie.