The pastor and propeller hats
On a podcast called “Masks and the Limits of Edicts,” published on July 15, pastor Douglas Wilson compared Moscow mayor’s order for residents to wear masks in public to an imaginary edict in which an autocratic government inanely requires everyone to wear “propeller hats.”
Not only does Wilson not have a clue about virology, but he also commits the illogical blunder of the false analogy. For someone who created an institution that teaches its young people the art of rhetorical thinking, logic and Western classics, one would think that Wilson would at least know what the fallacy of a false analogy is, or at least when to avoid one.
By comparing a propeller hat edict to a mask-wearing edict, he rests his whole case on a false analogy, that is, comparing two entirely unlike things, thus invalidating his argument. For one thing, propeller hats don’t protect people from viruses — masks do. Edicts for propeller hats don’t ensure the public safety — face covering edicts do. Requiring propeller hats is not a reasonable thing to ask — requiring masks is.
Wilson adds that masks don’t protect people from viruses. One would have to be so inane to make that statement it’s almost impossible to reason with them. Additionally, Wilson does not seem to know about asymptomatic spreaders, those who have the virus but exhibit no symptoms — such spreaders can have more potent viral loads than the symptomatic.
Normally, I would say it’s OK for Wilson & Co. to live with their absurdities, but in this case Wilson’s statements are actually endangering others’ lives in Moscow. But you can’t argue with myopic minds. Despite claiming to be so logically astute, Wilson cannot see the fallacy of a false analogy when it comes out of his own mouth, just like the virus particles.
A letter from a congresswoman
On May 4, 1970, 13 unarmed Kent State University students were shot by Ohio National Guard members during a peaceful anti-war rally.
As a 22-year-old sergeant in the the Utah Air National Guard at the time, I objected to being issued riot helmets, gas masks and bayonets. We were ordered to engage in exercises involving tight triangular formations, stamping of combat boots and thrusting our bayonets, in order to confront and disperse students, who most of my fellow guardsmen were sympathetic with.
Since I am a bit old for active protest, I took the time to write my congresswoman, Cathy McMorris Rogers, to appeal to her to work to prevent the kind of authoritarian and fascist tactics Trump has utilized in dispatching federal forces to our cities, despite the objection of governors, mayors and other officials.
Rep. McMorris’ reply below is testament that she supports such federal interventions and an authoritarian response to mostly peaceful and productive protests.
Without mentioning the Constitutional rights of our citizens to express their collective will in the streets, she writes: “Seattle and Portland are in crisis. No one can argue that throwing a molotov cocktail at a federal courthouse, attacking police officers, and setting businesses on fire are ‘peaceful’ protests. It’s dangerous chaos designed to erode confidence in the rule of law. I fully condemn the violence, especially violence spurred by Antifa that targets police officers. That’s why weeks ago I told the Spokesman Review in an interview that Antifa should be labeled as a terrorist organization.”
Using violence, or the threat of violence, to exclude others from the public cannot be tolerated. In times of crisis, we must pull together as a community and find a path forward for a better future for all. Lawlessness is not the answer.