kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Monday, June 29, 2009

La Coultera

I haven't posted anything here in awhile; summer, new smoker, learning about Twitter, reading, avoiding grading, watching Pujols, catching up with a long-lost friend: many distractions.

But I popped over to Ann Coulter's page the other day. I don't have TV any more, and I miss her insights.

I have a sneaking suspicion that there are some really good lawyers (my long-lost friend is probably one of them). I also think there are some that are evil, liars, stupid, drunk, asleep, and/or some combination of those qualities. At the same time, looking at the recent display of logic on the part of La Coultera, I think I'm starting to understand why she went into writing columns:

1) It avoids the long hours and hard work involved in doing the law correctly: you know, reasons, and evidence, and inferences, and arguments. Icky.

2) It avoids the long hours and hard work involved in doing journalism correctly: you know, reasons, and evidence, and inferences, and arguments. Also icky.

So you scream and rant and rave, say the most ludicrous things, dare people to put you on TV (aren't there videos you can already get, "Brains Gone Wild," or something?); complain if they don't, and complain if they do. It's a fabulous approach for a rich spoiled kid desiring to remain rich and spoiled. Wish I'd thought of it.

But let's examine a single claim of La Coultera's June 24 column, and see what, if any implications one can draw from it (using traditional logic, say that of Aristotle, or Frege; not her own, for, as we shall see, one of her axioms is "If P, then any fucking thing I want follows.")

The money quote:

Liberals hate America, so they assume everyone else does, too.

So when a beautiful Iranian woman, Neda Agha Soltan, was shot dead in the streets of Iran during a protest on Saturday and a video of her death ricocheted around the World Wide Web, Obama valiantly responded by ... going out for an ice cream cone. (Masterful!)

Let's ignore the fact that La Coultera probably doesn't know much about Neda—famously supported by liberal bloggers all over the planet—and that much of the ricocheting that La Coultera mentions was the fault of liberals who hate America—and was, of all things, a philosophy student.

Let's just focus on the logic here.

X happens. Y does Z after X occurs. Therefore Z is a response, by Y, to X.
(There's a first-order predicate version of this, but I'll spare you.)

Feel free to fill in the variables. Let's try a few.

  • 800, 000 Tutsis are massacred in Rwanda. La Coultera responds by going to the beach.
  • In 1984, some 15,000 people die in 72 hours in Bhopal India. La Coultera responds by going on a date and having a second martini and half a pack of cigarettes.
  • In 2001, some 3,000 people (not just Americans, people from 83 different countries) die in a coordinated attack by Muslim extremists. La Coultera responds by watching TV.
  • In 2002, Daniel Pearl, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, is beheaded. La Coultera responds by walking her dog and then taking a shower.

Need I add "masterful!"?

C'mon, it's fun! Add your own. While some law schools no doubt teach "post hoc ergo propter hoc" as a traditional fallacy (well, it is about 2,500 years old, at least), maybe La Coultera missed that day.

How did you respond to Neda's tragic killing?
La Coultera didn't offer us information on her response. I'm sure it was pious and devoted.