Thursday, 18 August 2011

Garbled garbage and false equivalence

Miranda Devine has a new article addressing the more hysterical of the responses she received to her aforementioned 'piece of illogical swill', in which she neglects to engage with any of the real problems in her argument, simply pointing to abusive tweets and other hyperbolic garblings of her original garbage. Obviously the majority of these comments were made flippantly, satirising the absurdity of her stance by talking about it just as absurdly, a point she fails to comprehend. Calm down, Miranda. Nobody (worth worrying about) actually thought you were saying 'People in London are rioting because Penny Wong is having a baby'; they were just saying that may as well've been your point because you argued it so hopelessly.

Unsurprisingly, in the face of this half-assed response, my point still stands.

But let's map this out and I can pass it off as practice for the first-year Philosophy subject I'm taking this semester, Practical Reasoning. This is Devine's position:
  • The London riots were undesirable
  • A major contributing factor to the London riots was the largescale fatherlessness of younger generations
  • Therefore, fatherlessness is undesirable
  • Lesbian child-rearing also necessarily involves fatherlessness
  • Therefore, lesbian child-rearing is undesirable
  • Therefore, we shouldn't be celebrating it
The problem here lies in the over-generalised term 'fatherlessness'. Devine's superficial contention is that fatherlessness is always a bad thing. She maintains that the kind of fatherlessness experienced by many of the London rioters is the same as the kind of fatherlessness experienced by the child of a lesbian couple. Fallacy of false equivalence, anyone? 

What happens when hardcore Catholicism/conservatism mixes with reason.
(Image amalgamated from,, and

If the parents of the London rioters had been married and the fathers present in the home, the riots wouldn't have happened, or at least not to the same extent, Devine implies again and again. As if it's the absence of fathers, not the absence of good fathers that makes the difference. As if it matters that it's a father that's missing, not a parent

She does surprise us though, in her rebuttal, providing some actual evidence! A+ for effort, Miranda. Keep up the good work! She cites someone else citing UK think tank Civitas's finding that: 'Fatherless children are “more likely to engage in behaviour associated with social exclusion, such as offending, teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse or worklessness.”' 

Yes, they probably are. As I was saying in my previous post, that's because scumbag guys tend to have children with scumbag girls and then fuck off, leaving the child to be raised by the scumbag girl. Can't Devine see the world of difference between this situation and the situation of two lesbians going to extraordinary effort and expense to conceive a child? The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

This hole in Devine's logic, although she doesn't realise it, is what forces her to admit 'that Wong and her partner will no doubt be “fine mothers” providing their baby with “a stable, loving upbringing, despite not having a father in the home. Individually, these things work themselves out. Allowances are made, extra effort applied. Love conquers all.”'

Which is funny. Evidently she is perfectly aware of the weakness of her own argument, but continues to make it anyway. She knows it is shallow to simply say 'Fatherlessness of any kind is bad', so she is careful to add that 'many ... [single mothers] ... do a heroic job', and the concession that Wong's baby will be fine quoted above. In realising that concessions such as these have to be made, she should have realised that the issue of 'fatherlessness' is not as black and white as presents it to be. I think it's just that she wants so badly for it to be a good argument. She's found herself pissed off at the fuss over Wong's impending baby, looked at the riots and gone, 'Yeah, see? None of those rioters have strong male role models to keep them in line. Neither will the baby of a lesbian pregnancy!' without examining the issue any further.

And I'm sure no one down at The Daily Telegraph would've prompted her to, either. What's their motto again? 'Superficial is good enough'?

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