Elementary Logic For Hysterics

The argument “Everything Hitler did was legal”, while perfectly true, does not logically entail the proposition “Grazing fees are legal, therefore the United States is a Nazi hellhole and some cowboy crook wrapped in a flag can threaten to kill people with his militia posse if he loses in court.” If ever the reductio ad Hitlerum was revealed to be hysterical crapola, it’s when talk-radio-catechized Catholic defenders of this lawless vigilantism trot it out to try to paint a delusional scofflaw–who childishly pretends the US government does not exist–as a patriot and not as the criminal he is.

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  • Dave G.

    Which is why it was a good thing we balanced our outrage at Boston’s reaction to the bombings last year with focus on the bombers who killed innocent people No. Wait. Strike that. Those of us who tried to do that were painted as right wing tribalists enamored of Fox News since the only thing worth focusing on was the government’s police state tactics. Boy what a difference a year makes.

    Anyway, the good news is that I decided to actually watch FOX last night and turns out that Bill O’Reilly, Bernie Goldberg, and Megyn Kelly (the three I had time to see) had urged caution from the beginning of this. If Beck and Carlson were as well, I’m wondering just who is constituting this horde of right wing pundits worshiping this fellow as a patriot hero. Sure, some might be. And maybe some thought better of him before things were revealed. Which can happen. Though it appears condemnation for his remarks, as well as pointing out his own legal problems in the mess, have also been documented by those on the Right. What Limbaugh has to say I don’t know since I don’t listen to him, and can’t. Only Hannity seems to have jumped with both feet behind the fellow, and that got a dig from at least one of the others (Goldberg I think, who technically isn’t a conservative, but seems to be more critical of the Left).

    But in the end, just going about to various Conservative Pundit outlets, it seems at different points they were saying there is more to this story than meets the eye. They did show clips from the Fed’s initial reactions, and it seems the story is more complex than one side evil/one side good. The cell phone clip I saw showed the Feds with dogs going after the protesters. It also appears that some politicians on both sides have jumped in and fueled the fires. But it also looks like more than one Right winger was, fairly early on, urging caution about putting too much stock in this rancher’s plight. So given that in just a half day poking around, I’m seeing various individuals urging caution, balance, and suggesting that we shouldn’t forget the problem with the Feds, while also realizing the rancher may not be innocent either – for my money, that seems a balanced approach. More balanced than the reactions to the Boston police crackdown last year, where innocents actually died and where the killers were all but dismissed as irrelevant.

    • Andy

      As a rule I don’t watch FOX, nor MSNBC or the other national outlets – they depress the hell out of me. I read some blogs and try to read news on line both the “right” and “left” versions. I do not know how many conservative pundits jumped to Mr. Bundy’s side, but the com-boxes on the conservative sites were rife with the Feds are evil and Bundy is the new Washington standing for our rights sort of gibberish. There were even flashes of this attitude on this very blog. I
      I do not think that the “pundit class” leads anymore – if they ever did. I believe that people are now lead by there sense of despair at what our country has become and lash out what they see as controlling the paths we take.
      I would guess that there are several sides to the “Bundy story” – with each side picking and choosing what supports their beliefs. What is needed is a sense of proportion and probity that allows a thoughtful discussion and examination – that time is long gone in this country.

      • Dave G.

        I learned ages ago that comboxes are never representative of any grouping in the real world. I need only remember what was said during the great Lila Rose disaster of 2011. On both sides of the lying debate. And to be honest, at least from those with some level of reputation on the line, balance in this story seems to be the norm rather than the exception in this particular story.

        • Andy

          I was commenting on the extremes of the comboxes, not their veracity or even-handedness. For em the problem is that the ability to have a reasoned discussion or dispassionate review is now missing.
          I am not so sure though that I agree with comboxes not be being representative of grouping – I think that the echo chambers created by the rapid ability to write and communicate with those you agree with leads to groupings or sub-tribes of tribes or whatever. It is this ability to ignore what others may say and concentrate on what those you agree with only that creates the inability to examine and discuss.

          • Dave G.

            True that. Though I don’t think comboxes create a problem as much as they increase it. I think every group has always had its loon, its extremists, its advocates of hate and evil. It’s just that, as you say, the rapid ability to comment, mixed with the fact that people who may have otherwise been confined to almost microscopic cells of isolation, now bring some of that to a disproportionate level in the Internet.

    • The Deuce

      Which is why it was a good thing we balanced our outrage at Boston’s
      reaction to the bombings last year with focus on the bombers who killed
      innocent people No. Wait. Strike that. Those of us who tried to do
      that were painted as right wing tribalists enamored of Fox News since
      the only thing worth focusing on was the government’s police state
      tactics.

      Well, see, the Boston bombers were recently citizenized immigrants and jobless welfare cases with a hostile ideology hailing from a hostile 3rd-world hellhole, who blew up a bunch of random civilians in order to terrorize the country. Focusing on them might’ve caused people to have unallowed hatethoughts about Islam, the state of the welfare system, or mass indiscriminate immigration and granting of citizenship, so you’d be a racist for focusing on them. Cliven Bundy is a bigoted white guy and natural citizen who threatened to shoot some government officials if they tried to forcibly kick him out, so you’re a racist if you focus on anything but him.

      Anyway, the good news is that I decided to actually watch FOX last night
      and turns out that Bill O’Reilly, Bernie Goldberg, and Megyn Kelly (the
      three I had time to see) had urged caution from the beginning of this.
      If Beck and Carlson were as well, I’m wondering just who is
      constituting this horde of right wing pundits worshiping this fellow as a
      patriot hero.

      As many or as few as need be imagined for another anathema against “The Thing That Used To Be Conservatism.”

      • jroberts548

        You literally posted a link to a video of Sean hannity defending cliven bundy, yet you’re perplexed that anyone would associate Fox News with cliven bundy.

    • The Deuce

      Speaking of Sean Hannity, I’m not really a fan, but I rather like his response to Jon Stewart on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcyFFP7NnFA

      • Ken

        I really can’t stand to listen to the right constantly victimize themselves. This is the same group of people that criticize poor minorities for a “victim culture.” There is never a missed opportunity to whine about the overpowering beast that is MSNBC or any other news outlet. How much content of Fox news is dedicated to being a victim of the media? It seems that is around 50%. How about some personal responsibility? Also, just because Harry Reid has said stupid things doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to say equally stupid things. Are there any adults left in the world?

        • Dave G.

          Same could be said about the Left. Or maybe people of all stripes at different times are justified in being upset. Even Eighties.

          • Ken

            Conservatives hold themselves to be morally superior to liberals but whenever they have to defend their actions they say, “We’re just doing the same thing they are.” How can they claim to be better than the other side if they engage in the exact same name calling and immature actions?

            • Dave G.

              I’m not sure Saying you’ve been wronged is a moral stance. Nor would I say there are many differences between right and left in the moral superiority department.

    • jroberts548

      By last night, fox had abandoned bundy, as there’s no way to make ” slavery was better for blacks than freedom” sound okay. Prior to that, fox was pro bundy.

      It’s not clear to me what the police state tactics in Boston have to do with bundy. In Boston, the cops unreasonably shot down an entire city except for the do it shops. In the bundy case, the federal cops tried to seize the assets with which bundy was trespassing on federal land and with which bundy had incurred a million dollars in fines and fees.

      • Dave G.

        From what I’ve read, and assuming Fox isn’t one person, there seems to have been a variety of reactions. Especially when details began to emerge. There’s nothing wrong with that.

        As for Boston, I thought I was clear. In both cases focusing on both parties was the obvious approach. Trying to parse why they’re different, especially in a way that makes Bundy worse (at this point) than the bombers is beyond a stretch.

        • jroberts548

          No one is saying bundy is worse than the tsarnaevs. Bundy and his deranged militia only threatened to murder people, the Tsarnaevs actually murdererd and maimed people.

          In Boston, you had police overreach at a coat of hundreds of millions of dollars, and scores of illegal house to house searches. You had swat teams raiding innocent people with no probable cause. It’s a miracle the police managed not to murder any of the people they were protecting at gun point. At the bundy ranch, you have the government attempting to seize a devtor’s property and being met with armed resistance. There’s no other side to focus on.

          You don’t need to parse why they’re different. There’s no similarity. When bundy or his defenders start killing people, or when the BLM starts illegally raiding houses at gunpoint, then there’ll be similarities.

          • Dave G.

            If you think there is no other side to focus on then you’re missing part of the story. At least I hope so. Not to mention wondering why, if the killings at Boston were worse (which they were) then why did so many want to dismiss them and what they did as irrelevant?

            • jroberts548

              What other side is there? We have a landowner (the Government) and a trespasser (Bundy). We have the government seizing property it’s entitled to, and a band of armed thugs threatening to kill them. There’s the side that’s rooted in law and fact, and there’s the ravings of a lunatic.

              The Boston bombing isn’t irrelevant, except to questions like “Should police have the power to raid houses without any reasonable suspicion or a warrant?” and “Should the police have the power to shut down an entire city at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars?”.

              I don’t understand why anyone would champion unconstitutional police overreach in Boston, but side with Bundy when the government is acting completely within its constitutional powers and not overreaching at all. Are cowboys protected by a different constitution than suburban homeowners?

              • Dave G.

                It’s simple. Examine the Boston police reaction while keeping any critiques in perspective based upon the killing of innocents by at large fugitives being a key factor.

                And separate what Bundy did wrong legally from ignorant statements made, while also focusing on overreacting on the part of the feds. It’s amazingly consistent and doesn’t involve championing government overreach or dismissing criminals or those who break the law or endanger others.

                BTW even critics of Bundy are admitting that the initial reactions by the law were over the line. So it all works.

  • Michaelus

    So Bundy is right because America freedom Robert E. Lee or Bundy is wrong because Glenn Beck racist tea part gun nut.

    Do we are realize that this problem start in 1993 when the BLM stopped issuing grazing permits for land that had been grazed for a century+ in order to protect a tortoise? The crux of the issue is not racism or State’s rights but the fact that the Federal government routinely destroys people’s livelihoods. The same thing has happened to thousands of small manufacturing businesses who cannot comply with “legal” OSHA rules and farms that cannot meet EPA guide lines etc. etc. All of these battles have been fought in courts without any relief. This is why larger businesses are so prosperous. If Bundy stops ranching all it means it that some giant beef company in Nebraska (doing far more environmental damage that Bundy) gets to sell more feed lot beef.

    And the tortoise has done just fine since 1993 despite the grazing.

    • LFM

      This is the only comment here that sounds both moderate and well-informed. Can’t be sure it’s right, but it offers enough information to give the rest of us places to look to learn more.

      The fact that Mr Bundy is not an especially attractive figure does not mean that his rights and those of people like him are not being violated, whether legally or otherwise. There are, after all, such things as bad laws – as Catholics here ought to know.

      . Mark Shea, I think you are off on a tangent again without sufficient information. Do reconsider.

      • peggy r

        Ding! Ding! We have a winner here.

      • Dave G.

        Personally I thought a couple comments were. : )

      • wineinthewater

        I think one of the striking issues here is that whether or not the laws are just is actually somewhat immaterial. If the law is unjust, Bundy’s action is still immoral and dangerous.

        But we should bear in mind that an immoral and dangerous action by Bundy doesn’t mean that government agents may not also have acted dangerously or immorally (it *seems* that they didn’t in this case, but the governmental agency track record isn’t great, so it wouldn’t surprise me). And just because Bundy’s reaction to the law is immoral and dangerous doesn’t mean that the law isn’t still unjust (I don’t understand the market or the regulations well enough to have an opinion on that).

        Unfortunately, the polarization, tribalism and partisanship that dominates our society generally won’t let us have much of a sane conversation about this. I actually find the fact that the “side” critical of the government is not also so whole-hog behind Bundy to be an almost shocking departure from the polarized status-quo.

    • The Deuce

      If we’re going to go by the liberal logic that Bundy is a racist, so it’s racist for anyone to say that he might have any legitimate point at all, then having admiration for Hispanic illegal immigrants must be racist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agXns-W60MI&feature=youtu.be&t=2m22s

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        Based on this and on the quotes from Bundy yesterday, he obviously places a premium on an intact family–which is a good. I can’t help thinking how many families would be broken and grieving if that stand-off he and his supporters put on had gone very wrong. Here in farm and ranching country, the idea of the generational family ranch, self-sufficiency, freedom to live as we wish and handle our own problems is all tied up in people’s identities. A rancher or farmer is that first and always as much as a mother is always a mother. I can see why this particular man and event has garnered so much support from people. I hate the precedent and actions they took, but I am close enough to see why they find Bundy’s narrative so attractive.

    • Ken

      I actually think the guy does have a point that he’s been grazing on this land for a long time and all of sudden it’s an issue. The problem is his response. We can’t have people picking up guns and threatening a revolution every time something like this happens. People would probably be on his side if he wasn’t acting so nutso.

    • peggy r

      Actually if you listen to radio talk, including Glenn Beck, and to conservative media, the Right is not all behind Bundy. THey see that he has lost all of his court cases and are wary of getting entirely behind him. Now, FOX has had him on, but I do know Megan Kelly has expressed doubt as to Bundy’s rightness. Beck is also as we speak excoriating Bundy for his thoughtless racist comments. So, Shea’s premise here is incorrect.

    • jroberts548

      If it would be so bad for bundy to stop ranching, maybe he should pay his grazing fees.

      • Michaelus

        He cannot pay grazing fees because the BLM stopped allowing him graze on at least a large portion of the land in question. The BLM has fined him for continuing to graze – that is the money the Fed say he owes them. He paid grazing fees until 1993.

        • HornOrSilk

          The fees are for grazing which he has already had his cows do. It’s called pay up the debt.

  • Evan

    While I did call Bundy and his supporters evil and/or stupid yesterday, after thinking their actions over, I concluded, as some of Bundy’s defenders have said, we ARE taking their actions out of context and being too harsh on them. We need to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new west. You know…morons.

    (For the humor impaired, the first sentence is sarcasm.)

    • Guest

      …so farmers being morons isn’t sarcasm? 😛

      • LSUStatman

        You obviously have missed the “Blazing Saddles” reference.

        • Doug Sirman

          “Evan Johnson is right!”

  • JM1001

    Saying “Everything Hitler did was legal” is just a lazy way of saying that not all laws are just. There is a tendency among authoritarians on both the Left and the Right to merely point to The Law(tm) as something that must be obeyed without question.

    “Obamacare is the law!” says the Left. “Therefore, we can force Catholics to violate their conscience.”

    “The Patriot Act is the law!” said the Right (at least during the Bush years). “Therefore, we can spy on Americans’ communications without warrants.”

    It’s a way of combating the equally invalid argument that something is the Law, therefore You Must Obey. You saw something similar during the surveillance debates last year, when President Obama defended dragnet spying programs by saying that they were “signed off” by all three branches of government, as if that automatically made them moral or just.

    So the question becomes: Are the laws being protested here immoral or unjust (in this case, U.S. property and resource allocation law)?

    Admittedly, I don’t know enough about the situation or the relevant laws to answer that question, but the basic principle is sound.

  • jroberts548

    Not everything Hitler did was legal. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have had legal justification for the punishments we gave Nazis that we tried in Nuremberg.

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      From what I understand, the charge against the Nazis at Nuremberg was “crimes against humanity”, which had no strictly legal basis but was rather a recognition that Natural Law condemns certain things whether there’s positive law against them or not.

  • Benjamin2.0

    I don’t know if this has occurred to anyone. They can both be wrong. Bundy can be a dangerous militant racist and the bureau of land management can be wrong to fine him and confiscate his property. Sometimes, there isn’t a good guy.

    Take this Crimea mess, for instance….

    • Dave G.

      I think it has occurred to several. Most comments I’m hearing on this are basically saying that.

      • Benjamin2.0

        Bully for them. I must have missed those comments in the sea of ones founded on the unstated premise that rejection of one side in any way is a comprehensive acceptance of the other.

        “My kingdom for rational discourse!” says the guy with no kingdom in a comment box (while missing the fact that rational discourse is, in fact, occurring).

        P.S. I’ve seen some interesting tidbits in defense against the racism charge in the last hour. The fuller context of his offending remarks includes a portion in which he claims he would proudly sit next to Rosa Parks on a bus. If I had my first comment to do over again, I’d omit ‘racist’ for some comment to the effect that he uses tin-eared comparisons (likening one’s struggle to civil rights is always a third rail death-warrant). Given that it was stated as a hypothetical, I graciously choose to assume I will be forgiven.

    • HornOrSilk

      How is the BML wrong? He owes over a million dollars, continues to use land which is not his, hurt it, and thrust himself against the government basically saying “come and get me.” He’s not even a Billy the Kid.

      • HornOrSilk

        Just think how he would be if he owned a large piece of land, and someone took their herd of cows into his land, and had his herd drink all the water and eat up all the food like locusts and left. He would be getting in a fight, I can assure you. And most supporting him would support him if he did that, too. Which basically says, they are not consistent; they usually stand for “property” and “authority over one’s own property” but — when it is someone they don’t like, they whine and whine and whine when the real owner tells him off.

        • Benjamin2.0

          Your comparison compares federal land to land owned by a private citizen, dismissing the very distinction important to the discussion.

          • HornOrSilk

            The distinction of who controls the land does not play any role in this discussion, unless you believe government has no authority whatsoever.

            • Benjamin2.0

              To say a government has no authority to do X is not to say that it has no authority.

              • HornOrSilk

                To say it has no authority over land, when it does, is to deny it some of its basic authority.

                • Benjamin2.0

                  Me:

                  To say a government has no authority to do X is not to say that it has no authority.

                  You:

                  To say it has no authority over land, when it does, is to deny it some of its basic authority.

                  Who said it has no authority over land?

                  • HornOrSilk

                    Your argument is it has no authority over its own land here. Your sophistry shows no consistent argument.

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      Me:

                      To say a government has no authority to do X is not to say that it has no authority.

                      You:

                      Your argument is it has no authority over its own land here. Your sophistry shows no consistent argument.

                      This is getting boring (you wouldn’t like me when I’m bored). Please stop saying things I can disprove by gesturing upward with blockquote.

                    • Jordan F. Mooney

                      Welcome to the Interwebz Society of Princes of Pretentious Trolling

        • Dave G.

          Flag on the play. Accusing someone of crimes not committed based on scenarios that haven’t happened. I’m sure there’s s fallacy in there somewhere.

          • HornOrSilk

            I did not accuse him of crimes not committed. I was explaining the fact that the same people acting up right now are the same ones who tend to be “property rights” and “defend property” all the time. But they get upset when someone else (government) is defending property. This is a logical form of discourse, no fallacy at all. Analogy and comparison.

            • Dave G.

              If this happened… He would… I can assure you. Sounds like accusing someone of doing something that hasn’t happened. At least to me.

              • HornOrSilk

                Subjunctive is your friend.

                • Dave G.

                  Hey, I’m not the one who assured readers I know how he would react based on hypotheticals. But by all means. To each his own they say.

                  • HornOrSilk

                    He’s the one who is claiming the right is his and belongs to his family, and he had people come with guns to defend his “rights” and he said he didn’t recognize the authority of the US government.

                    Sometimes I wish people would actually pay attention to what was said and done and see how it connects to discussions.

                    • Dave G.

                      We do. Some just prefer to shy away from that line that could be considered judging others.

      • Benjamin2.0

        I suppose if you merely assume as premises, a priori, precisely those things which the opposing parties reject as false (notably, the terms ‘owes,’ ‘not his,’ and ‘thrust himself against‘) and which make up the very substance of the dispute, the matter becomes crystal clear.

        • HornOrSilk

          And I suppose, if you presume, the evidence has not already been there — for decades– Bundy is in the wrong, just ignore history and all the proof which has been given, then you can act like both are in the bad. Sorry, but no. It’s not “a priori” just as much any criminal who is proven to be a criminal, is not able to give this “ah, you believe a priori their accuser” stand. This is just absolute relativism on your part. Which is what lies behind this mess. Nihilistic relativism which knows no sense of order nor epistemology..

          • Benjamin2.0

            Criminals are often convicted on the weight of evidence, rather than vague claims about the existence of evidence some place over there.

            The rejection of ontological moral claims in the face of deontological moral claims is precisely how one combats Nihilist relativism once it gets its claws into those in power.

            • HornOrSilk

              He has had his day in court. He has lost. The evidence is there. You just ignore it and then say “there is no evidence.” You prove where you stand, where you just want to blame the government. And it is nihilistic relativism with no sense of epistemological grounding for your point, because all you provide is pure skepticism, ignoring evidence, as you go along.

              • Benjamin2.0

                Wade lost in court, too. The court was wrong, ontologically. Is this not the case, here? I’m skeptical toward your arguments because they’re bad, not because I’m skeptical toward argument, per se.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Ah, so, whenever the result is: I don’t like it, you go “well, the courts have done bad before.” Fallacious argument 101. Enough — play your absolute skepticism elsewhere.

                  • Benjamin2.0

                    If the point to be made is that the courts can be wrong, bringing to bear an undisputed case in which the courts were wrong is an excellent way to both make that point and give it the weight of evidence.

                    [*Points at his own oblong head while nodding knowingly*] Logics. No fallacies here, just us chickens.

                    My skepticism has an end: truth, in spite of the devoted, warring narratives which would lead me astray for political ends. The skepticism of a Nihilist has an end: the denial of truth, usually for the advancement of a political narrative. Equivocation of the two is a better candidate for the adjective ‘fallacious’ than my above use of a particular illustrative example.

                • chezami

                  The equation of grazing fees with abortion is one of the many dumb analogies supporters of this terrorist have indulged in.

                  • HornOrSilk

                    It’s a variation of the “but Hitler” response, as you have pointed out, is in error.

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      The validity of the reductio ad absurdum lies precisely in the validity of the reductio.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      You continue to lack any logical argument, and yet try to play with logical categories.

                      You have reduced nothing. Your claim is “government can be bad, look here is a bad government, therefore the government is in the wrong.” That is not a legitimate argument.

                      It’s like an atheist saying, “How can we know Catholic theology is legitimate, because of Luther…”

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      You have reduced nothing.

                      Right. You did. The validity of that reduction was the thing I suggested was lacking.

                      Your claim is “government can be bad, look here is a bad government, therefore the government is in the wrong.”

                      No, I haven’t said anything like that. I still haven’t taken sides. If I had any position at all it would be that I haven’t been given enough evidence to decide which, if any, side is worth taking, in no small part due to having to wade through maligning misrepresentation by both sides. My discussion with you, so far, has centered around the invalidity of your arguments and wrongness of your conclusions even as perceived from my undecided and not yet fully informed position.

                      How can we know Catholic theology is legitimate, because of Luther…

                      Luther had no valid arguments, which weren’t based on ridiculous, novel, unsupported, and arbitrary premises, for rejecting Church authority. That’s why his and any claim should be rejected. It seems you would reject this reason as…How did you put it?… “Nihilist relativism.”

                    • HornOrSilk

                      You have taken a side. There is no “no side.” You accuse the government without proof, and anything which shows governmental authority as a part of the picture leads to your “and Hitler” or “and Wade” response. Your sophistry is as relativistic as it comes.

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      You accuse the government without proof, and anything which shows governmental authority as a part of the picture leads to your “and Hitler” or “and Wade” response.

                      I don’t recall accusing anyone of anything except you of promoting your side by use of bad arguments. To claim that use of real examples of bad law as a means of demonstrating that law can be bad is to equate the accidents of the former with those of the latter is just lazy and wrong. You introduced that equivalence, not me, and I will not answer for words placed in my mouth by false witnesses (especially in a forum which makes the bearance of false testimony easily disprovable – that’s right, I hold all the power! I can prove a negative! Fear my immanent wrath!).

                      Your sophistry is as relativistic as it comes

                      Hoisted on your own petard, it seems.

                  • Benjamin2.0

                    I made no such equation. The use of an example of bad law is not to equate of all the accidents pertaining to two particular examples of bad law. The tendency to dismiss the terrorist’s claims on the grounds of how they can be made to look in the public eye by selective quotation rather than their weight is precisely why I dismiss these dismissals.


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