Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the original episode of the original Star Trek (and I knew a refugee from Tehran who told me how their Pre-Revolution dinners had been disrupted in a battle for years, because her brother wanted to watch Star Trek, which came on at dinnertime in Iran), then be warned that I’m going to give the whole shebang away, and if you read on, you will deprive yourself of the delight of watching it for the first time, without knowing what will happen. T’would spoil it for you.
“Mirror, Mirror” was broadcast for the first time on October 6, 1968, and I watched it. I had to arrange to be at a friend’s house to see it — there being a strict prohibition since the first episode, Nancy, the Salt Vampire, because monsters gave my little brother John nightmares — so I snuck it, nonetheless, and tag-along John started sneaking it, too. Go figure. He had to lie about his nightmares thereafter, since he was bound under the same familial taboo and proscription that I was … because of HIS nightmares. Go figure.
The short form is this: Transporter accident lands small contingent of the lead characters in a parallel universe which is not the democratic Federation, but the ruthless Empire. All other regular characters then get to play their doppelgängers, their shadows, and it’s a lot of plots within plots and backstabbing fun as the decent heroic Enterprise captain and officers attempt to return to their universe. And at the end, the Captain appeals to the parallel universe Spock, and convinces him of the reason for democratic governance, and the ultimate futility of despotic Empire. And he give bearded Spock a weapon that will make him invincible in pursuing that path.
And he knows that Bearded Spock will see the logic of it. And there is that most important of tags: We, like the crew have been troubled by a sneaking worry about what the barbarian Enterprise crew is doing on the Federation Enterprise.
Regular Spock, albeit Amok
And here is the wisdom. “Oh, we threw ‘em in the brig.” Because (paraphrasing) while a civilized man may pretend to be a barbarian, a barbarian may not pretend to be a civilized man. And civilization depends on civilized men and civilized women. Civility means something to you, but it is ALSO the civic duty to report a crime, or defend the country.
And we wonder what the logical — and ultimately civilized — bearded Spock is doing in the universe of the barbarians.
Which brings me to Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher and Michael Kinsley.
All three believe that what they are doing — each in his own way — is the reasonable response, the civilized response. Response to the yowling rationalizations and equivocations of the barking snarkosphere over the Rush Limbaugh vilifications of women, and loss of advertisers (as discussed yesterday, and the day before, and so on and so forth).
(Well, if it is, the scene at the end of Zardoz is the kind of civilization we’re talking about. And it’s that latest buzzword that hurts my ears to hear from its utter clichéness and [pl]attitude: unsustainable.)
It is International Women’s Day, gentlemen, and the women of America have been attacked, let’s face it, by male power figures. And our civilization is being attacked by ruthless barbarians who use schoolyard bully tactics, stymie the government IN A RECESSION, betray the cause of Liberty embodied in the Declaration of Independence by not allowing and agreeing that we should walk together in the governance of this land — just as their Revolution has swept the entire globe. Peoples all over the world are fighting for democracy and we are showing them how stupid, silly and selfish corrupt democracies can be.
Lincoln at Independence Hall
That is a betrayal of our parentage, which has given us this land, it is a betrayal of our present in NOT dealing with present crises to chase, instead, shibboleths of a bygone century, and it is a cruel betrayal of our posterity and of being the first generation to leave America worse than we found it.
No: Like bearded Spock, and Federation Kirk, in that parallel universe, you have to play by their rules to stay alive. But you can also recognize that there comes a time to fight back. Not by defending Rush Limbaugh’s “free speech” rights. He has NONE — on the commercial airwaves. He has Commercial speech rights, which CAN be governed and regulated on the public airwaves, as reiterated by the Supreme Court for a very long time.
I see all three of you pinioned by fuzzy thinking.
There are two arguments being made, and they have cowed you and the rest of the Zardoz civilized into utter catatonia.
The first is: well somebody on your “side” did it, too.
The Greeks would say: two wrongs don’t make a right, but at this point, any number of wrongs can make you a right-wing hate machine.
I would put it to you this way: so you’re saying that until I and every other Democrat who has ever lived is perfect, we cannot make moral and ethical judgments of your actions? (Dream on.)
But since this is never made explicit, the “civilized” meekly accept this outrageous argument and have FOR DECADES.
It is logically absurd. Even Bearded Spocks know that.
Independence Hall (photo by author 2008)
The second argument invariably trips up all commentators on the Left, and I am here to lay it out for you in very simple terms:
Communication of THINGS in English require two elements to be present to be meaningful:
There is always an amount of a thing. That is the quantity.
And that thing has a value in whatever context it exists: space is empty or cold, ducks are flying animals or water animals,
The false equivalence argument always works by suppressing either quantity or quality.
- Quality: Charles Manson is a criminal. Your grandma got a parking ticket. Therefore, since both share the quality of “law breaker” Your Grandma = Charles Manson. The quality or the degree of “law breaker” is absurdly different between your grandma and Charlie Manson, no matter what you might have told your therapist. Bill Maher called Sarah Palin, an abrasive and equally insulting — see “Palin’s Penis Poke Provokes Proprietor’s Point“– public figure, a “twat.” Once. Rush Limbaugh abused a young woman, a private citizen only a couple of years out of high school for three days for three hours a day. And then used an apology to CONTINUE that public abuse another day and then attacked a young female journalist for another three hours the NEXT day. They are no more equivalent than your grandma and Charlie Manson.
- Quantity: The numbers have different masses, they are of entirely different quantity. Baby Linda said a bad word. A drunk screamed a bunch of incredibly dirty, scatological, scabrous and profane words at a judge in a courtroom when court was in session. The relative weight or quantity of baby Linda’s bad word and the drunk and really disorderly fellow is virtually immeasurable. Or, Rush Limbaugh said yesterday that he has “18,000″ advertisers (counting all local advertisers on all stations) and that losing 28 (or 32, he vacillated) doesn’t mean anything, therefore. Because, Granny’s Donuts in Pig’s Knuckle, Arkansas is the SAME as Sears or AllState. The QUANTITY of advertising dollars represented is utterly out of skew. Granny’s Donuts may not spend as much in a year as Sears spends on advertising nationally in a DAY. The weight of the audiences if different. Granny reaches ten or twenty thousand listeners around Pig’s Knuckle. Sears reaches millions nationally and overseas. An ENTIRE continent is DIFFERENT than the AM radio listenership of Keeblerville, Arkansas. DIFFERENT QUANTITY.
And sometimes, a bit of both. There is nuance in all things, we move on.
- NOT EQUIVALENT. Therefore, not a supportable or even ascertainable ’argument.’ Fail.
And yet, this is the argument that is made over and over and over and over again. successfully.
It is a logical fallacy. It is a rational impossibility, and yet “civilized” media mavens accept this ridiculous proposition over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again — BECAUSE BOTH SIDES DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, see if you can untangle that very simple fallacy attached to the last actual sentence in English above. (Hint: it’s NOT Bwahahahahahahh!)
Take your time. I’ll wait.
Limbaugh robbing a crippled child
Dum dum de dum dum. Doo wacka doo wacka doo wacka doo.
The Republicans do it all the fucking TIME. The Democrats only more occasionally, and if they do it, THEY ought to be called out on it, too.
But the false conflation of two entirely different things through omission of quantity or quality is the essence and the error of the argument, and until you solve this simple puzzle, you will NOT be let through to the next game level, and you will receive no fresh lives or bonus points. You will NOT be bearded Spock in the Land of the GOPs.
Keith Olbermann implicitly bought this argument last night, when he equated Limbaugh’s days and hours of serial verbal abuse of women with his (false equivalence’d) comments on Michelle Malkin, surely one of the mistresses of contumacious vilification and sanitized obscenity to spew venom in the public sphere. And vowed to never sin no more* and to retire “worst persons in the world” yet again, repeating his mistake of a couple of years ago.
Michelle Malkin and John Fund at the 2009 Sammy Awards
(Aristotle: “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” When barbarians manipulate your conscience, sir, ask yourself, Who is the more irrational: he who rationally rebuts irrational accusations to the irrational, or the irrational who have made such accusations? Answer: the former, since the former is gifted with a mind, and a soul and articulate knowledge of civilization, whereas barbarians can only be expected to be barbaric.)
The media are gatekeepers of civilization, and it is their responsibility NOT to split the difference between reason and unreason; nor between civilization and barbarism. We have accepted the necessity of logic and reason since Greece. That has NOT changed, sophistries notwithstanding. Unreason and civilization cannot co-exist. (I refer you to the Dark Ages for a reference point.)
As for Michael Kinsley: may whatever deity or non-deity you either worship or accept as Ultimate Reality have mercy on your soul, if you believe in a soul, but if such an imprecation would offend either your theistic or non-theistic sensibilities, and would wish withdrawn, consider it withdrawn, along with any implicit supplication to any deity that you might or might not believe in. Amen.
The Winds of Time
You’re going to have to be bearded Spock in the Land of the GOPs, and this ridiculous “tolerant” notion that you ought to keep turning the other cheek again when they lie with their mindless fallacies and their brainwashed masses is a betrayal of your country and civilization just as surely as theirs is and continues to be: a long, pissing on the graves of the Founding Fathers, who believed in a better sort of America than we seem to envision.
Now, you have your weapon that will make you invincible against the barbarians of the Empire.
You can do a lot of damage by passing on this simple weapon and by using it at every rhetorical opportunity — because, since the weapon is knowledge, you can arm others without disarming yourself in the process . When a critical mass is reached, the GOPs will find another fallacy, but in the meantime, you slays the dragons you got.
Next week, if you do well, come back, and we’ll see about getting you your Magic Sword.
Jabberwock : illustration by John Tenniel for
“Alice Through The Looking Glass”
Now: go and do battle with the barbarians. They are pretending to be civilized, and that is their infallible weakness. And you can do this. Our future and our children’s future hang in the balance.