False Equivalence and the Right
A couple of days ago, someone posted the following statement on his Facebook page, “HEY REPUBLICANS! Please don’t object to expanded background checks for gun purchases. The Dems are begging for it...give it to them.... with this caveat...all voter registrations have to be handled with the same process. (Please wear protective gear when suggesting this to your favorite liberal. Pretty sure their head will explode.)” This is a person of influence (to some) with a wide audience.
It is the worst kind of manipulation and pandering to his base.
If we look at these words, the largest issue is the blatant use of false equivalence. False equivalence is a logical fallacy in which something is suggested to being the same as something else for the purpose of an argument. But, they are not. In this case, there is a false equivalence between gun purchases and voting.
Let’s look at the issue of legality. According to the Heritage Foundation (conservative think tank), there have been 1,177 verifiable cases of voter fraud in the U.S. in the last 18 years. According to the Gun Violence Archive (which gets its information from new reports), there have been 1,459 deaths from gun violence this year (we are on day 39). So, voter registration isn’t really that much of a problem. Guns are. Saying that voter registration needs the same kind of background check as a gun purchase is ridiculous.
By comparing a gun purchase to voter registration, a huge false equivalence is created. These two things only have one thing in common. They are in the Constitution (and in reality, the universal right to vote is not in there). In fact, voting has evolved immensely over time, where the 2nd amendment hasn’t. By comparing the two, it is only creating a myth about voting.
Now the second issue I have with this argument is the opening.
Obviously, the writer had to make sure he reached his audience. Therefore, the intro. However, this is directing the false equivalence to one side by pairing it with gun ownership. And directing it to only one side. By screaming to his particular audience, he created a fake argument that would get rile them up.
My third issue with the argument is the use of an ad populum attack on the left. By ending the post with the idea of sharing with a liberal so their heads would explode, it is creating a further division in the conversation. Yes, I know it is for ratings, but with the decline in civility and fracturing of society in the last two years, there is no call for it.
My issue is that shortcuts, logical fallacies, and fear have replaced thought, logic, and evidence. The right will believe anything if there is a single piece of evidence. They will rely on news that isn’t news. They will do what they are told. We need to be thoughtful in our conversations. We need to be thoughtful to each other. We need to discuss things logically and try to come to decisions.
Now, I will admit, my head almost did explode. But, not for the stupid post. It almost exploded because of the manipulation of his audience.
With the exception of a year, I have been a teacher or a student for my entire life. I have taught on many different levels. I have been a middle school teacher (okay, for one semester for student teaching...because of this, I have a profound respect for middle school teachers), high school, undergraduates and graduate students. I have coached soccer in youth leagues and high school. Education is in my blood.