Natalie Bennett, Arch-Green
The main reason I won’t engage with these people has much to do with my profession, part of which was to run through things such as the logical syllogism with students:
All men are mortal
Socrates is a man
Therefore, Socrates is mortal
Though students are young, most in my groups had the mental capacity to follow all this and to argue their own cases – that was our bread and butter work in a way.
And everyone developed that sort of mindset – that anything argued must begin with either the statement followed by the steps, backed by the evidence which led to it or else it was done in reverse, with a conclusion drawn at the end.
So, having spent half a working lifetime doing that and then confronting the utter lack of logic in the political arena, along with sheer legerdemain and “shiftiness” in position, it’s a bit more, I’d argue, than just your sense of exasperation – it actually distresses me, seriously distresses me to see such shoddy argument, to the point I can’t deal with it and do avoid it.
That’s why I don’t go to Guardian comments, whereas some of you might find them amusing. They actually distress me.
Take this one Breitbart mentioned, about the climate “expert” who was trolling on Twitter. His opening was that climate deniers should be executed. In some contexts it might be amusing but not in the light of the recent beheadings – it’s not funny in the least.
Which comes to the first point after the lack of logic – the lack of a sense of proportion, of the appropriate, of what is decent.
So he removed the Twitter comment, which comes to the third point – the essential dishonesty in what so many on that side of politics find acceptable behaviour. Naturally, people were up in arms and trying to engage this person in logical debate, which brings us to the next point about such people – they are deliberately trying to tie up those they see as “haters” or “deniers”, i.e. someone who disagrees with the narrative and gives reasons why. The attempt is to stymie those with a case against what they preach, to delay, confuse.
They can’t afford to be trapped in a corner with no evidence so they write things like:
Why are you deniers so touchy? Mere calls for a beheading evolve such a strong response in you people.
One tweeter tries to pin him down to the comment he’s now removed from Twitter, the one about beheading, and asks on what basis he approves of such violence on those who disagree. And the response?
And what violence would that be? Making false claims is easy in the absence of evidence.
Which brings us to the Buzzwordbank, as I call it or the Buzzphrasebank. It is to misappropriate someone else’s expression, especially that of the opposition and attempt to play it as their own trump card, out of its original context and forced into a new, as a means of winning the argument in lieu of foundation, of groundwork of their own. It is the lazy student’s cut and paste from the net into his essay.
Which brings us to the next point, related to the lack of proportion, decency and ethics – they see it all as some giant hoot, an enormously funny game and most importantly – they’ve made a killer point and have WON! That’s what it’s all about.
Which brings us to the next point about them – they’re not interested in presenting a logical case, they’re interested in stringing enough of these buzzphrases they’ve retrieved from the bank, along with lofty buzzword pretensions such as fairness and tolerance and they’ve WON! This is about winning, not about logic. Not about there being two sides to a question, nothing like that.
Take the egregious Natalie Bennett:
No crime to belong to Islamic State, al-Qaida or IRA, says Green party leader
“Whaaaaa!!!” cry we, “have you no sense of decency woman? Children orphaned, women raped, men decapitated, women stoned. This is meant to be the leader of a compassionate party who protects the environment for our grandchildren? This is that same person?
Then out comes the misappropriated buzzphrase, on cue:
We do not protect freedom by destroying it.
She has deliberately stolen one of our own phrases used in the context of the debate on free speech at libertarian sites, has filed it in the Buzzwordbank for future use and now, suddenly, here it is trotted out, thrown down on the table like a trump card. She’s WON!!! [In her eyes.]
Except that, in this specific case, she is supporting the right to the freedom to murder as a legitimate part of freedom. She’s defending the freedom of these people specifically – ISIS et al – killers and rapists in other words.
Is the woman insane? Does she not see that her trotting out of that phrase wrongly in this context makes her look a totalitarian?
No, she doesn’t see that. Coz she has WON!!! Sorry – those things drive me out of my tree, to employ the vernacular.
And while I just sit there, openmouthed, observing this astounding lack of logic, my silence is then interpreted as having no counter-argument to her.
There was a similar incident the other day. I’d made some case in a post and as usual, had offered quotes in support. Into this came a detractor, going on an on about how bad I am personally. What the hell had that to do with anything?
So I wrote: “Sigh.”
So she wrote another diatribe and triumphantly concluded, while I’m just shaking my head, not knowing how to engage with such fruitcakery, that she has WON!!!
Which brings us to the next characteristic of these people – deep effrontery, if not libel [remembering of course that they are always the victims, not us] and it’s all quite OK to behave in this manner in civilized society.
Iris Murdoch was a well-known novelist and former member of the Communist Party, and at the time very much part of the fashionable literary scene. She was also a philosophy don at Oxford, so any gossip she was spreading was likely to be a reflection of the attitudes of the Oxford dons generally. None of the three of us had ever met her.
The allegation of being lesbians was one of many rumours that went round about me and my associates having zero basis in fact. (See also Oxford’s slanders about drug-taking.)
I could not bring myself to deny Iris Murdoch’s alleged slander, as it seemed merely boring to deny something for which there was no foundation, so I made no reply, nor did either of the others. After a pause, J.B. Priestley said, ‘Oh well, I didn’t expect you to deny it,’ as if our failure to deny it was an admission of its truth.
That’s the twisted logic again that this post has been about and I have a question:
Is it deliberate or is it a genuine inability to think straight and to then adopt all sorts of subterfuge to win an argument?
Which brings me to the last point – just how dangerous are these people? If they’re actually in positions of power within the community, just what havoc can they wreak?
And yet look at the percentage whom they say will support them in May. I fear for our country, readers, I truly do.