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OPINION | BRENDA LOOPER: Such blarney!

by Brenda Looper | March 17, 2021 at 3:44 a.m.
Brenda Looper

Legend has it that those who kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle in County Cork, Ireland, are blessed with the gift of eloquence.

You won't see this Arkansas girl kissing it, though, because, for one thing, you're supposed to lean backwards from the parapet walk to kiss it while upside down. My vertigo would have a field day with that. Plus, we're still in a pandemic and other people have kissed it. Ew!

Besides that, while "blarney" once meant something along the lines of eloquent speaking, it's now regarded more as, as Merriam-Webster's defines it, "nonsense, humbug." The dictionary writes: "One story claims the word blarney gained popularity as a word for flattery after Queen Elizabeth I of England used it to describe the flowery (but apparently less than honest) cajolery of McCarthy Mor, who was then the lord of Blarney Castle."

Not that I couldn't use some help in the eloquent-speaking category, as I've long had a stammer that comes out when I'm nervous, agitated and/or among strangers, which is why I prefer writing.

But all the Blarney Stone kissing in the world isn't enough to make up for a lack of logic, and flattery will get you nowhere with cynical little ol' me, whose in-born stubbornness has been honed by dealing with three older brothers who once used her teddy bear as a football and left him out in the rain. Yeah, I'm still a little ticked off about that.

Last week I talked about things that hadn't happened despite the doomsayers. This week, it's all about logical fallacies.

• Well, it's obviously bias!

I often see the argument that there must be a bias in academia against conservatives because there are relatively few conservatives there. Assuming there's a bias is false cause.

What about all the people who are discouraged from seeking higher education that would get them those jobs? What about those who have no interest in pursuing a career in education? Is is possible that it's a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy?

If your only interest as far as your career goes is advancing the cause of your personal politics, you might not last long ... except in politics. Do what you do well and that makes you happy. Ditch the quota mentality.

• Comparing apples to orangutans or anything else that isn't an apple.

Let's say you're comparing election returns in separate years. To do that, the points of comparison should be the same, not one result taken while the count was ongoing and the other a certified result.

Or compare the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol with last summer's protests if you want a real workout in false equivalence and weak analogies. The Black Lives Matter protests over the deaths of George Floyd and others were largely peaceful, though there was violence. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) analyzed more than 10,600 demonstrations that took place between May 26 and Aug. 22. About 80 percent of those were related either to BLM or the pandemic.

ACLED noted: "In more than 93 percent of all demonstrations connected to the movement, demonstrators have not engaged in violence or destructive activity. Peaceful protests are reported in over 2,400 distinct locations around the country. Violent demonstrations, meanwhile, have been limited to fewer than 220 locations."

Media and political spin placed the emphasis on the violence, as it also did Jan. 6. However, those who breached and over-ran the Capitol were beating officers, vandalizing, looting, and erecting a gallows outside the building; violence seemed to be the point.

The intent is maybe the biggest difference. BLM planned peaceful protests based on calls for justice for a man killed on camera; the Jan. 6 attempted insurrection was based on the lie that a free and fair election was stolen, and violence was planned against our very seat of government.

Whatever the reason, once violence and property damage enter the picture, it's wrong, no matter what side you're on, and those responsible should be held accountable.

• They're all the same!

Closely related to false equivalence is hasty generalization, which basically means making broad assumptions based on a small fragment of the whole. The parties aren't their fringes, though the fringes have gotten bolder. I would venture to say that most Democrats and Republicans are moderates, as are independents like me, but the fringes are loud and get more attention.

Because, you know, competence and coherence are boring.

But, sure, keep making those claims that all Republicans or Democrats are evil/smelly/etc. It's a really convincing argument.

I'll end with one of my favorites (read: most annoying): If you do A, B will be right behind, and the world will end!!!

Ahhh, the slippery slope. By its logic, allowing same-sex civil unions, then same-sex marriage, would result in quick course in being able to marry your dog. It's ludicrous to pose that possibility, and yet this argument was actually made.

Look, while I'm sure your dog is a great companion, a dog is not marriage material. Who wants a spouse who drinks out of the toilet?


Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com. Email her at blooper@adgnewsroom.com.

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