i dream of being possible

analogies and logic

Okay, okay. Let’s talk about analogies. After this woman yesterday decided to condescendingly tell us all what analogies are to defend her white supremacy and then it was also used by this charming racist claiming to be transethnic, as a means for excussing their appropriation of trans and/or disability language, it is time to for some real talk about analogies.

The white supremacist from yesterday linked us to this bit about analogies. If you scroll down to section A10.3, you’ll see that it provides you some criteria for evaluating analogies. I think she may have forgotten to read that part. There is also the case of the straight up fallacy of making a false analogy.

Analogies can be useful (and valid) rhetorical tools. They can explain more abstract ideas by relating them to something concrete. They can use familiar ideas to explain unfamiliar ideas. They are actually close to some natural cognitive processes our brains use in abstract thinking, so analogies really are great and powerful tools. They are also amongst the most misused rhetorical tools.

For example, here is her argument from yesterday:

You had me until the body slur ("HEFFA”). No. I don"t care how much you hate a person. You don"t do that. Analogously, imagine like a super-homophobic black man being called the n-word by an angry non-black queer. NO. DO NOT TAKE USE SLURS DIRECTED TOWARDS OTHER MARGINALIZED GROUPS IN YOUR ATTEMPT TO TAKE DOWN SOMEONE WHO MARGINALIZES ANOTHER GROUP. The kyriarchy loves it when you do that shit.

And this is the argument she was replying to:

(OP seems to have deleted so you can follow the previous link to see the original argument, but I'll respect their deletion and not repring the argument here.)

The gist of the issue was that a Black person called the white woman who does the vampire diaries a heffa for being racist. Leading to the above 'call out.'

So here is the analogy:

  1. Black person calls racist white woman a heffa.

  2. White woman woman’s analogy: White queer calls homo-phobic Black man the n-word.

Analogies depend on the similarity of the two situations in order to be considered strong.

So. Here are the match ups that I can determine:

  1. Oppressed person: Black person/white queer

  2. Oppressor: racist white woman/homophobic Black man

  3. Slur: heffa/n-word

4./ Conclusion: You don’t use a slur of group A when calling out for someone oppressing group B.

Many, many, many people in the thread yesterday pointed out that point 3 is factually incorrect and, more or less, where the analogy fails. This is true. One of those words is a slur in the english, one of them is a non-slur in AAVE. Clear analogical failure.

But maybe the analogy still has some legs…

What about point 2? Something seems fishy here. Is it the case that a homophobic Black man is just as oppressive as a racist white woman? Too many variables have changed here. The gender is different, the axis of oppression is different, the relative hierarchical position is different, the power differiential isn’t the same, etc. These two types of people have almost nothing in common… Mainly, this analogy might have worked if the man hadn’t needed to be Black. Why not a homophobic white man? That works much better and focuses on only one axis of oppression at a time. (because… a white queer cannot, without comment, be just put as ‘oppressed’ in opposition to a homophobic Black man. No.)

At this point we’ve taken down two of her points of similarity. What is the basic rule of a valid argument? All the premises must be true and, if true, garauntee the truth of the conclusion….

So. No. Analogies are a real thing. But so are false analogies.

And what about her assumptions? Her argument has, as an implicit assumption, the premise that ‘heffa’ is an english word used to demean women of a certain shape and size. However, again as other people pointed out, this isn’t what ‘heffa’ means in AAVE. So, really it all falls apart there.

My take down above grants her assumption to demonstrate that even if you assume this, her analogy still fails. Why? Because of intersectionality (that she tried to school poc on). Her analogous sitution introduces too many new elements. Why have a homophobic Black man and a white queer? Her analogy would have been stronger (and possibly valid) with a homophobic white man and a white queer. And if the white queer had used the word r****d. But only if her assumption were true.

Remember, folk, especially those who claimed to study philosophy for fours: You can never have a valid argument with false premises. Ever.

on Posterous: http://bit.ly/MP9o0P