Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Bad Argument



Very occasionally I still catch The Daily Show. It is a shadow of its former self of course, with John Stewart gone. However I did see the interview Trevor Noah did with Tomi Lahren. It did not do much to raise my opinion of either of them, but made for a nice diversion. Lahren, though clearly quite young and not the greatest thinker, held her own for the most part. She seemed like a clear rising star for the Fox News crowd.

So I was surprised to learn that she was being suspended from her position at The Blaze, Glenn Beck's media outlet. I caught a tweet about it and it turns out it was because of her appearance on The View. She stated that she was pro-choice during her interview there.

Now, that in and of itself is enough for any conservative outlet to distance themselves from her since a strong majority of republicans are pro-life. However when I actually watched the clip and heard her reason for being pro-choice, I immediately knew that Glenn Beck was right to suspend her.

Lahren claimed to be pro-choice because she supports small government. That was her reason; "Stay out of my guns and stay out of my body." This is an impressively stupid argument. The abortion issue is not about scope of government. It is about the definition of life. To a pro-lifer she is basically saying that stopping the murder of babies is not a legitimate function of government.

If she were smart she would have just taken the standard liberal position and said, "I do not believe an undeveloped fetus is equivalent to a baby." She could have put it nicely with some qualifiers. Instead she tried to be clever and make a "conservative," argument for abortion. This sort of reasoning is risky because it can anger people in your ideological camp. I have heard intelligent liberal arguments against Obamacare, and conservative arguments for gay marriage. Bill Maher has done this well as a lefty attacking PC culture. For an emotionally charged issue like abortion, it is not a good idea to try to oppose your own side with their own philosophy. It is doubly bad when your argument is laughably deficient.

Lahren's argument goes beyond being simply bad and is actually offensive. She is betraying a cornerstone tenet of conservative ideology and simultaneously attacking conservatives for not agreeing with her. She's essentially saying, "If you guys were REAL conservatives, you would be pro-choice." You need some serious intellectual gravitas to try something like that. Lahren is out of her depth. Beck made a very understandable decision. This whole drama is a teachable moment on the risks of bad arguments.

And no, her suspension is not "censorship." Her employer, The Blaze, has every right to reprimand someone they think does not represent them well. Organizations have a right to set and enforce standards. If a Catholic school just so happens to only want to hire Catholic teachers, that is their right. If Glenn Beck's wants his organization to support an official position on abortion, that is his right too.

As for the abortion issue I of course have my own view but do not feel inclined to discuss it in this writing. Another time perhaps.