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Virtually every Tea Party argument is a fallacy. That's not a scientific poll or anything, just a very biased observation through Facebook meme's, which appears to be where the Tea Party gets the bulk of their information, since they don't have the attention span to watch Fox news.

Liberals waste a lot of time trying to argue with these fallacies, rather than just pointing out the fallacy and trying to have a real discussion. This is the first in a series of articles defining some different types of fallacies and how the Tea Party uses them. Hopefully it can save some liberals a little time and/or sanity.

There's no such fish as a red herring. There's herring, but they aren't red. To get them red you have to smoke them. The thing is, when you do that they they also pick up an extremely strong scent.

So, as the legend (which recently has been challenged but it's still fun) goes, they were used to train hunting dogs back in the day. The "red herring" would be used to wipe across the trail of the fox to throw the dog off the scent, distracting him from his original goal.

The expression was picked up both as a literary technique and as a name for a type of fallacy.  The fallacy occurs when another argument is introduced to distract from the main argument. The Tea Party Republicans and the NRA have used this in a number of forms to distract form the gun control debate.

The problem with liberals (present company included) is that we go barking after the red herring, not even realizing that it's what we're doing.

So what is the argument for gun control? It's twofold.

Simply put the goal is to make it as hard as possible for criminals and those with certain mental illnesses to obtain guns while infringing as little as possible on the rights of responsible citizens to obtain them.

Example One: Don't take away my guns, I have a Second Amendment Right!

The red herring is the actual second amendment argument. There are a hundred different directions to go with this, talking about the militia clause, or the history of the amendment and why it was written to allow for the slave owners to maintain their slave populations, or even Heller and how even the most conservative justice in the history of the court said that there were restrictions on the Second Amendment.

All of those are chasing after the wrong scent. Remember a good red herring gets you distracted. The best way to do that is make a bad argument when the other party knows the answer. The urge to chase after it is compelling.

But the best answer to this is, "We're not taking away your guns."

Example Two: People kill people with cars, knives, hammers et al and you're not taking them away!

The car one is really annoying isn't it? You want to point out a multitude of arguments, such as the fact that cars aren't designed to kill people, or that if you had millions of people walking in single file with assault weapons firing, there would be a lot more people killed, or that cars are heavily regulated, requiring both registration and licensing.

Again, because you have a valid point, it doesn't mean it's valid to make it. If you're chasing a red herring, you're losing the argument by trying to win it. As soon as you start engaging this line of reasoning, you're entertaining the notion that their guns are going to be taken away.

The best answer to this is, "We're not taking away your guns."

Example Three: If you take away everyone's guns, then only the criminals will have guns.

Oh how this one can lead you down a long and winding path! You can get into endless conversation about England, Australia, Japan, how different countries record their crime rates differently, Chicago, Washington DC, straw buyers and so on and so on.

But this all feeds the same giant fish that could swallow the one who swallowed Jonah. Forget all of that, even though you're right.

The best answer here is "We're not taking away your guns, we're only making it harder for the criminals to get them."

Example Four: The real problem is that Hollywood and video games desensitize us to violence, so why do you want to take away our guns.

You want to point out that there are countries with gun control who have far lower murder rates than ours, that watch the same movies, and play the same (or even more violent) video games.

You want to argue that it's arguing to take away the First Amendment to protect the Second.

You want to argue a bunch of things, because the argument is so intensely stupid that it must be answered, but remember—red herring stink. They're designed to do that.

The real answer here is, "We're not taking your guns away."

There are other examples, but I'm sure you're getting the point. Any argument that they poise which leads down the path of taking their guns away is something that doesn't need to be engaged in because we agree with them. No one is taking their guns away!

Now, there are two caveats to this.

First Caveat: I understand you're not coming to my house to take away my guns, but by banning semi-automatic weapons you are restricting my right to by whatever guns I want, and that's a violation of my second amendment rights

This introduces a new fallacy, the strawman, and will be addressed in the next diary entry. There is a valid discussion to be had here in regards to what is an assault weapon versus what is a semi-automatic weapon.

Second Caveat: BlowBama wants to steal all my guns! He's secretly conspiring to bring in a one-world government and he manufactured Sandybrook with a bunch of actors so he could drum up support to come and take my guns so that me, and the other red-meat eating Americans who love freedom and liberty won't be able to fight back when they try to take over the country! He'll have to pry my AR-15 and 217 other guns from my cold dead hands!

Here the correct answer is, "OK, we're probably going to have to take away your guns, but only because you're failing the sanity portion of the background check."

Originally posted to Backell's Big Blog of Bodacious Brewing Brainstoms on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:23 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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Comment Preferences

  •  Absolutely Correct; Should be on the Rec list... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    backell, bmcphail, Sandino

    The argument is not "banning guns" versus "2nd Amendment".  That is a strawman.

    Going all CT, I think it is deliberately created by NRA type organizations because they know that the real discussion is on how much regulation and control in needed for safe and sensible gun ownership in the country.  They know that the vast (and I mean VAST) majority of Americans - gun owners and non-owners alike - support sensible controls, common sense regulations and workable restrictions that would keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.

    The terms of the debate need to be changed.  Once that happens, the unity between gun owner and gun control advocate will be unstoppable.

    Tax and Spend I can understand. I can even understand Borrow and Spend. But Borrow and give Billionaires tax cuts? That I have a problem with.

    by LiberalCanuck on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:35:37 AM PST

  •  Someone votes for them; we pay them with our (0+ / 0-)

    Taxes.

    There is something wrong with us, don't know what it is. Stupid & evil is winning.

  •  Best answer is: (2+ / 0-)

    "I don't have time or energy to debunk every single bullshit lie and half truth someone tells you to repeat because they think it sounds clever."

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:51:29 AM PST

  •  but you are taking away my guns (0+ / 0-)

    that's what banning certain types firearms that I have means.

    •  No, I'm not (0+ / 0-)

      Not if the kinds you have are grandfathered in. If you are still allowed to have the guns after the law is passed, no one is taking them away.

      Discourse is better served if we can stick to the rules of logic.

      by backell on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:23:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  then what's the point? (0+ / 0-)
        •  You need to ask? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          efrenzy

          If you're honestly asking, the stated purpose is to "dry up the existing supply" of assault rifles. Additionally, it will make it harder for criminals to acquire them.

          Now you can argue that they'll still be able to do it. But it will be harder, and more expensive, for them to do it. As I said in the beginning,

          Simply put the goal is to make it as hard as possible for criminals and those with certain mental illnesses to obtain guns while infringing as little as possible on the rights of responsible citizens to obtain them.

          That's the point.

          Discourse is better served if we can stick to the rules of logic.

          by backell on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:14:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for explaining the origin of the term "red herring".  I love language, and I love learning about how our modern language usage came about.

    And thank you as well for your reply to the conspiracy nut worried about sharia law and Pres. Obama and the rest of it.  Your response to this type of argument will get widely used.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:25:19 AM PST

  •  I now know the meaing of the red herring, (0+ / 0-)

    today was a good day!

    Also great diary!

    Reach for the sky, Touch the sky, Revive a hope, For Mankind!

    by Greatwyrm on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:58:25 AM PST

  •  I am also fond of "The Flip" when engaging (0+ / 0-)

    in these types of arguments, for example, in answer to any of the above arguments against gun control, "so your idea/reccomendation/solution is to do nothing?"

    You can of course amend this with a specific reference of recent gun violence, but that is setting you up for the red herring isnt it.

    Reach for the sky, Touch the sky, Revive a hope, For Mankind!

    by Greatwyrm on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:18:14 PM PST

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