Here is a image via Mark Shea’s blog:
Now, if this had been titled “4 Things to Think About in Regards to Food Stamps” I would have just let it slide. But it makes a claim so ludicrous and condescending that I once again ignored my “just stay out of it” instincts and commented:
This image above has crossed the line: lying so that good may come of it.
No, this is not all you need to know. 1 and 2 are emotional irrelevancies meant to put a stop to rational discussion; 3 is an out and out lie, meant to make us believe that not only do food stamps not cost anything, but are rather a regular gold-egg-laying goose! Throw a dollar in, get *$2* back! How does it work? It’s magic! And only a poor-hating doody-head would dare question it. 4 is true – and?
Food stamps may or may not be a great good – I personally don’t have any major issues with them – but attempting to lie and manipulate emotions so as to put a stop to rational public discourse? That’s evil, and remains evil no matter how good food stamps may be.
This of course lead to a bunch of fundamentally irrational comments, as well as a couple OK ones. Oh, well, some things I never learn.
So, as a public service, let me show the form an actual argument might take. This isn’t a particularly good argument – ok, is sucks – but at least it allows us to see what is being asserted as a premise and how the logic leads to the conclusion. Rational arguments will have this form, the more explicitly the better:
1. According to the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, public action should be taken at the lowest possible political level given the nature of the action.
2. Like making war and printing money, feeding the hungry is something best done at a national level.
3. Therefore, food stamps, as a national program to feed the poor, represents a proper Catholic approach to feeding the hungry.
See? Anyone can see the premise, the logic, and the conclusion. Then, we can have a rational argument! We can dispute the premises and the logic without any name calling or appeals to emotion. How cool would that be? And we don’t limit what you need to know to 4 points on the one hand, or need to fill in a bunch of ellipses on the other. It doesn’t makes the baby Thomas Aquinas cry.
Any time people substitute emotional appeals, unsubstantiated claims and assertions that ALL the facts are in in place of a nice clean little syllogism, it is at least true that they are behaving irrationally and, sadly, often true that they are lying. Current events supply many, many examples of exactly this substitution. This is not a hypothetical exercise.