Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A lack of logic is a dangerous thing

One of my cousins sent me a link the other day to a video of a guy defending same-sex marriage. He was calm, eloquent and believed in his cause. And dangerously convincing. No doubt using words like "dangerously convinving" make me a homophobic bigot, but what I'm actually talking about is logic, or a total lack thereof.

The problem is this: no-one is taught logic anymore and therefore very few people can recognise when the flaws in an opponent's argument have nothing to do with the point at stake. These days, hardly anyone bothers to put together an argument which has any more content than maligning the opposition. This guy talks about logic, talks as if he's being logical, attacks "so-called homophobic logic" and you have to really pay attention to see where his logic totally falls apart and reveals itself to be a big pile of...fallacies.

When I clicked on this link, the first thing that happened was that I was asked to respond to the following statement: "I believe that everyone should be treated equally regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation". There is a long-standing, regularly exploited ambiguity of the words equal and same. For example, I believe that men and women were created equal in dignity, but men and women are obviously not the same, whether on a biological, psychological or spiritual level we are clearly different. But when people start talking about gender equality they usually mean that everyone is the same. But "treating people equally" doesn't mean "treating everyone the same" and everyone being equal and treating everyone equally and treating everyone the same are three different things. If they were the same, then I should give money to everyone who asks me for it, whether they need the money for medicines or illegal drugs. I should carry out brain surgery on two people who have fallen down some stairs and injured their head even though one of them is a 92 year-old whose blood pressure medication made her dizzy and the other is 20 and was drunk. Equality comes in ensuring that both get the treatment with the best risk-benefit ratio, giving them the best prospect of recovery. How that is decided, and who decides it, is another issue. As for sexual orientation, everyone is called to live chastity, and for the record that is not something which is lived on a purely physical level. If I don't have a boyfriend, but have sexual fantasies about a good-looking guy I saw on the bus, am I chaste? If I am married and do the same, am I chaste? No: "sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes" (CCC 2351) whether in the mind, the heart or the act.

Returning to the website, I might easily agree with the equality statement, but then I could well be left questioning myself over why, in that case, I don't agree with same-sex marriage (it being obviously discrimination, myself an unknowing homophobic bigot). I might even end up deciding that as I'm not a bigot and I am in favour of equality I therefore had better start supporting same-sex marriage because it's totally in line with my priniciples. You see...dangerous, and the guy hasn't even started talking yet.

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