The Illogical Attacks on Judge Moore

They play the race card.  If that doesn't stick, they toss out the gender card, as they have with Judge Moore.  If the opponent survives these attacks, then it's the class card, as it was with Mitt Romney.  If none of this works, it's the LGBT card.  Then there's the "E" card – just "too extreme," as with Barry Goldwater and Judge Bork.  When all of these fail, as they did against candidate Donald Trump – and all of them were played – the left freaks out and starts throwing things.

All of these attacks are versions of the same logical fallacy: the ad hominem argument.  Ad hominem attacks are called "fallacies" because they have nothing to do with logic per se.  They intentionally deflect the discussion from ideas to personal issues instead of policy ideas or questions about one's ability to perform the job.  The fact that Mitt Romney's wife owned two Cadillacs, something clueless Romney cited as evidence of her unpretentiousness (Cadillac, not Mercedes – get it?), was held up as damning evidence that the candidate was out of touch.  In one poll, two thirds of respondents stated their opinion that Romney "doesn't care about people like me."  It was over after that, all without discussion of a single idea.

By its very nature, ad hominem is an "impure" form of debate.  It shifts the argument to the level of schoolyard accusations: "I don't like you because you're not nice."  "No, you're the one who's not nice."  That pretty much sums up the Democratic Party's line, especially since the 2000 election.  (Don't vote for Bush – he's a "cowboy," and his supporters are "bushies."  Does that make sense?)

Actually, in the case of Judge Moore, as it was with Clarence Thomas, "I don't like you because you're not nice" presupposes that one's opponent actually, in some respect, is not nice.  In the case of Judge Moore, it's "I don't like you because you may have made advances to young women 38 years ago, although no compelling evidence of such exists."  In other words, it's not just ad hominem, but ad hominem based on a personal failing that may or may not exist.

The clincher in the Moore case is the accusation, first published in the Washington Post, that he once made advances on a fourteen-year-old girl.  The idea of an adult male molesting a fourteen-year-old girl touches a primal nerve.  It violates a sacred taboo and evokes a primitive response.  It is all too easy to jump from accusation to condemnation without considering the facts or applying logic.

Several facts in the Moore case need to be considered.  The charges of sexual misconduct relate to events that supposedly took place 38 years ago.  Why were no charges made public until now, just weeks before a critical U.S. Senate race?  How is it that a man charged by four accusers with making advances on them, all but one of legal age at the time, has maintained his reputation and his marriage for so many years without scandal?  Why is it that only at this moment have several women have come forward claiming sexual impropriety?

Logic would tell us that the charges against Judge Moore are not just "related" to the Senate race – they are the result of his candidacy in a race that may decide control of the Senate in 2018.  Unless more convincing evidence can be produced of criminal activity or of a serious moral offense – and the only accusation of this so far comes from one woman relating two incidents – Moore must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

There is also the question of the reliability of witnesses.  One of Moore's accusers has links to the Hillary Clinton campaign.  What about the others?  The chief accuser in this case says she "thought about" coming forward years ago but chose not to.  Why has she chosen to come forward now, only after being contacted and repeatedly interviewed by investigative journalists from the Washington Post?

The charges against Moore stand in stark contrast to those against Al Franken.  Everyone has seen the photograph of a smirking Franken fondling the sleeping Leeann Tweeden.  One photograph may or may not be grounds for expulsion from the Senate, but is there other incontrovertible evidence of sexual misconduct of a criminal nature?  In fact, there are other accusers coming forward, one of them claiming she possesses evidence of stalking and harassment.  In Moore's case, it is one person's word, corroborated by hearsay, against another.  In Franken's, it is right before your eyes.

Liberals are masters at using ad hominem and other cheap forms of attack.  In their book, every conservative is automatically a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, or a madman ready to unleash a nuclear war until proven otherwise.  Conservatives are by nature hesitant to use this kind of tactics, partly, I suppose, because they are too proud to stoop that low.

For the record, I believe that if the allegation of sexual conduct with a fourteen-year-old girl is proven, Moore should step down immediately – just as I believe that there may also be a good case for expelling Al Franken from the Senate.

Hopefully, the people of Alabama will stand up and reject the left's ad hominem attacks on Judge Moore.  Perhaps the guilty party in the Alabama Senate race is not Judge Moore, but those who have drummed up the charges against him.  Until proven otherwise, Judge Moore must be presumed innocent.

If the left is successful in defeating Judge Moore, this will usher in a new phase of debasement in American politics.  From that moment on, it won't be necessary to bring charges and prove them.  All that will be required is to concoct the most salacious account of personal misconduct and find those willing to repeat the tale.

If we enter this new phase of politics, Judge Moore and Al Franken won't be the last of it.  Every candidate for public office will put his reputation at risk.  Elections will be fought on the basis of who can concoct the most sensational story.  We will have moved so far beyond logic that ideas will become irrelevant and character a mere figment of the imagination.     

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).

They play the race card.  If that doesn't stick, they toss out the gender card, as they have with Judge Moore.  If the opponent survives these attacks, then it's the class card, as it was with Mitt Romney.  If none of this works, it's the LGBT card.  Then there's the "E" card – just "too extreme," as with Barry Goldwater and Judge Bork.  When all of these fail, as they did against candidate Donald Trump – and all of them were played – the left freaks out and starts throwing things.

All of these attacks are versions of the same logical fallacy: the ad hominem argument.  Ad hominem attacks are called "fallacies" because they have nothing to do with logic per se.  They intentionally deflect the discussion from ideas to personal issues instead of policy ideas or questions about one's ability to perform the job.  The fact that Mitt Romney's wife owned two Cadillacs, something clueless Romney cited as evidence of her unpretentiousness (Cadillac, not Mercedes – get it?), was held up as damning evidence that the candidate was out of touch.  In one poll, two thirds of respondents stated their opinion that Romney "doesn't care about people like me."  It was over after that, all without discussion of a single idea.

By its very nature, ad hominem is an "impure" form of debate.  It shifts the argument to the level of schoolyard accusations: "I don't like you because you're not nice."  "No, you're the one who's not nice."  That pretty much sums up the Democratic Party's line, especially since the 2000 election.  (Don't vote for Bush – he's a "cowboy," and his supporters are "bushies."  Does that make sense?)

Actually, in the case of Judge Moore, as it was with Clarence Thomas, "I don't like you because you're not nice" presupposes that one's opponent actually, in some respect, is not nice.  In the case of Judge Moore, it's "I don't like you because you may have made advances to young women 38 years ago, although no compelling evidence of such exists."  In other words, it's not just ad hominem, but ad hominem based on a personal failing that may or may not exist.

The clincher in the Moore case is the accusation, first published in the Washington Post, that he once made advances on a fourteen-year-old girl.  The idea of an adult male molesting a fourteen-year-old girl touches a primal nerve.  It violates a sacred taboo and evokes a primitive response.  It is all too easy to jump from accusation to condemnation without considering the facts or applying logic.

Several facts in the Moore case need to be considered.  The charges of sexual misconduct relate to events that supposedly took place 38 years ago.  Why were no charges made public until now, just weeks before a critical U.S. Senate race?  How is it that a man charged by four accusers with making advances on them, all but one of legal age at the time, has maintained his reputation and his marriage for so many years without scandal?  Why is it that only at this moment have several women have come forward claiming sexual impropriety?

Logic would tell us that the charges against Judge Moore are not just "related" to the Senate race – they are the result of his candidacy in a race that may decide control of the Senate in 2018.  Unless more convincing evidence can be produced of criminal activity or of a serious moral offense – and the only accusation of this so far comes from one woman relating two incidents – Moore must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

There is also the question of the reliability of witnesses.  One of Moore's accusers has links to the Hillary Clinton campaign.  What about the others?  The chief accuser in this case says she "thought about" coming forward years ago but chose not to.  Why has she chosen to come forward now, only after being contacted and repeatedly interviewed by investigative journalists from the Washington Post?

The charges against Moore stand in stark contrast to those against Al Franken.  Everyone has seen the photograph of a smirking Franken fondling the sleeping Leeann Tweeden.  One photograph may or may not be grounds for expulsion from the Senate, but is there other incontrovertible evidence of sexual misconduct of a criminal nature?  In fact, there are other accusers coming forward, one of them claiming she possesses evidence of stalking and harassment.  In Moore's case, it is one person's word, corroborated by hearsay, against another.  In Franken's, it is right before your eyes.

Liberals are masters at using ad hominem and other cheap forms of attack.  In their book, every conservative is automatically a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, or a madman ready to unleash a nuclear war until proven otherwise.  Conservatives are by nature hesitant to use this kind of tactics, partly, I suppose, because they are too proud to stoop that low.

For the record, I believe that if the allegation of sexual conduct with a fourteen-year-old girl is proven, Moore should step down immediately – just as I believe that there may also be a good case for expelling Al Franken from the Senate.

Hopefully, the people of Alabama will stand up and reject the left's ad hominem attacks on Judge Moore.  Perhaps the guilty party in the Alabama Senate race is not Judge Moore, but those who have drummed up the charges against him.  Until proven otherwise, Judge Moore must be presumed innocent.

If the left is successful in defeating Judge Moore, this will usher in a new phase of debasement in American politics.  From that moment on, it won't be necessary to bring charges and prove them.  All that will be required is to concoct the most salacious account of personal misconduct and find those willing to repeat the tale.

If we enter this new phase of politics, Judge Moore and Al Franken won't be the last of it.  Every candidate for public office will put his reputation at risk.  Elections will be fought on the basis of who can concoct the most sensational story.  We will have moved so far beyond logic that ideas will become irrelevant and character a mere figment of the imagination.     

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).

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