tigtog doesn’t get it

I recently came across an old post from hoydenabouttown.com that referenced an argument about rhetoric I made on Pharyngula. Basically, I was saying that one’s argument should match one’s goals. The sexist goals of PZ and others do not match their goals of making people more aware of what they see as sexism, thus their rhetoric is just awful. That isn’t to say it is awful for their in-group discussions. I expected to see harsh rhetoric from PZ and his followers. That’s what his audience wants, so he delivered. The problem is when they want to appeal to anyone else. No one is going to listen. Try getting an event organizer to book more female speakers by calling him a sexist, privileged pig who wants to take away women’s rights to vote. See what happens. So once I made my argument and everyone thoroughly misunderstood it, I cited Cicero who made the same basic point all day long: rhetoric should match goals. Unfortunately, author “tigtog” of hoydenabouttown.com doesn’t seem to get it:

Using this quote as if Cicero thus obviously advocated politely rational rhetoric is so hilariously ignorant about how Cicero actually used rhetoric in practice to garner an audience and persuade them to his will! Nobody who was actually familiar with Cicero’s most famous successes as an orator could possibly imagine that he was recommending civil argumentation.

(I didn’t actually use a quote, but I digress.)

tigtog then went on to discuss specific tactics Cicero used. None of it got to my point. Again, rhetoric needs to match goals. The times when Cicero used harsh rhetoric matched his goals and spoke to his audience. If he did the same thing in 21st century American politics, he may have been seen as just another asshole who is petty and flies off the handle. Or not. All politics are local, so – as always – it all depends on his audience.

People just don’t seem to get it. I’m all for harsh tones when harsh tones work. I feel they are more honest, so I prefer them. Just look at the hilarious lashing Richard Lenski gave to creationists. The second letter he sent to the morons at Conservapedia was far from nice, but it’s hard to deny its greatness. And, oh gee, look at his third sentence:

I expect you to post my [second] response in its entirety; if not, I will make sure that is made publicly available through other channels.

In his first response he was fairly cordial. He was just responding to a few silly creationists. However, his second response was designed to be seen by scientifically-oriented people. That’s why he explicitly said he would make it public one way or another. So in each letter we see appropriate rhetoric: in the first he answered nicely so as to more easily move on from the situation while remaining professional; in the second he ripped them apart so everyone could laugh. That pretty much nails the sentiments and arguments of Cicero in every regard.

So, again, my argument is simply that one’s rhetoric must match one’s goals. In fact, that was Cicero’s argument. This makes tigtog wrong twice. First, she has implied that I would not advocate for harsh tones. Saying as much is to willfully disregard everything I have said. Harsh tones are great when used correctly. Second, I never argued what Cicero thought was the best or worst specific rhetoric one way or another anyway. That’s just poor reading comprehension on her part.

Oh, and using an embarrassing misunderstanding of another person’s argument as a premise for one’s own argument is also bad rhetoric. I don’t know if Cicero ever felt the need to be explicit on that point, so maybe tigtog can enlighten us all.

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Glenn Beck defines “bigot” correctly

I figured Glenn Beck had slithered back into his hole, but apparently he still does and says stuff. For instance, in recently speaking of gay marriage he gave a correct definition of bigotry:

Beck started the conversation off by offering up the definition of the word “bigot” — a term that is often utilized in the gay marriage debate. “The definition of bigot is somebody that won‘t listen to anybody else’s side, because of their point of view…they try to shut down everyone else’s point of view,” he explained. “If you won’t tolerate someone else’s point of view, then you are a bigot.

His first part isn’t entirely correct – that’s just a common action of bigots – but the part I bolded is perfectly correct. Bigotry comes down to tolerance. I’m not sure Beck is smart enough to distinguish between that and non-acceptance, but is at least on the right track.

Now the next step is for the bigoted Beck to stop being intolerant of equal rights for gays before the law.

Thought of the day

New linky link

I have added The Right Atheist under “Teh Conservatives” widget on the right of the site. While it always pains me a little bit to promote conservative views, he is an atheist. As happens so often, that brings with it a good degree of reasonableness.

Check out his site.

Government widens definition of rape

I was a little worried when I read the headline that the government is widening its definition of rape. As I wrote last month, the CDC already has a definition that includes acts which, although horrible, are not rape. Such inaccurate definitions dilute what it means to be raped. I can’t imagine doing anything much worse than that. Fortunately, the government is not going homeopathic on the term:

Until now, the FBI’s standard counted only forcible vaginal penetration of a woman as “rape.” The new definition expands rape to include oral and anal sex acts against women as well as men. It also says if a victim cannot give consent for any reason, the crime is a rape even if force is not used.

That includes any victim who cannot consent due to alcohol or drug use, who is under the age of consent, or who is mentally or physically incapable of consent.

Who knew that men weren’t included? Or anal and oral penetration? In fact, forced penetration with objects has not been included until now. All of these exclusions have always been a part of my definition of rape, as I have specifically said in the past. I had no idea, though, just how much I was only talking about my definition.

None of this is going to affect how crimes are prosecuted since states have their own definitions, but this will impact the accuracy of reporting:

“This major policy change will lead to more accurate reporting and far more comprehensive understanding of this devastating crime,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

“Without an accurate understanding of the magnitude of the problem, how can we effectively solve it? Definitions matter because people matter,” she added.

Now we just need organizations like the CDC to get on board. Reporting molestation and other terrible non-rape crimes as rape undermines the life-shaking experiences of those who actually have been raped, whether orally or anally or vaginally or with a foreign object. This change is a good thing.