A: “Gloobs are the worst, they’re wrong.”
B: “But it isn’t a Gloob, it fargles.”
A: “You’re wrong, it is a Gloob, because Gloob’s bargle.”
B: “But it fargles, so it isn’t a Gloob by definition. And that’s fine.”
A: “No, it’s a Gloob. The definition includes how it bargles. And bargling is bad because Gloobs do it.”
B: “Then it’s fine because it’s not a Gloob. So it’s good.”
A: “But bargling is a bad.”
B: “Yes, bargling is bad, but it’s not a Gloob so it’s okay, it’s good.”
A: “Even though it bargles?”
B: “No, it fargles.”
A: “What’s fargle got to do with it?”
B: “Because it fargles.”
A: “Yes, I know it fargles, but it’s a Gloob.”
B: “But it’s not a Gloob.”
A: “Yes it is. So it’s bad.”
B: “But it fargles.”
A: “I think you find it bargles.”
B: “But that doesn’t make it a Gloob.”
Confused? Follow that? Possibly not. In fact, I hope not – because honest-to-fuck, people, this is what reading most of your crap sounds like to me. Well, not your crap, other peoples’ crap because you’re an intelligent rational being, and everyone else is an unenlightened sheep, QED.
“But it’s racist!” “No it isn’t!”, “It’s sexist!” “It’s not sexist!!!”…really, it’s inanity personified. You’re not fighting over what something is, you’re fighting over what to call it. And what’s more, you want to call it something because that controls what you can do with it and what you’re allowed to think about it afterward.
Okay, fine, let’s add in actual example since the above comes across as abstract nonsense.
Is an unborn baby a “life”?
“YES! And YES some more!” screams the pro-life crowd… and I’ll stick to and pick this one apart because the pro-choice argument mostly doesn’t make the identical but opposite argument of “no”.
When the pro-life crowd argue that a fetus is a “life”, they don’t care about that question. “Life” is an arbitrary concept, it separates the inanimate world of objects that we can’t eat and can’t eat us from the objects that we can eat or could eat us – and when examined in more rigorous detail, it repeatedly fails to find any real edge to it, the fuzzes away to nothing, as a continued spectrum. At no single point does “not-life” become “life” – because life is a process, not an event. Whether something “is” or “isn’t” life has little relevance to reality, only our social responses to it. Anyway, I don’t want to unpack this any further – if you disagree with this assessment, go ahead and assume that you’re just plain and simply wrong, it’ll save time later.
Instead, the question pro-life crowd are really asking is “should we be allowed to abort that pregnancy?” They want the answer to that to be a resounding “no” – but they don’t want to just come out and admit to that. Gods forbid, that might require some self-reflection.
The answer to abortion question is the reason they want the “is it a life?” question answered. Because it lets them treat abortion one way, rather than another – in other words, this is their motivation for the answer to be “yes” or “no”. The problem of whether someone is motivated toward one answer or another taints the question with an ulterior motive. In this case, and many others, it stops anyone realising the objective truth: the question is nonsensical.
(And not least it’s problematic for any pro-choice proponent who buys into this narrative and is forced to haphazardly argue the opposite. This makes it a very effective rhetorical strategy on the pro-life side. The only option open to refuting it is to clumsily go along with it and argue that the answer is “no”, or pick it back to the bare bones and convince them of the irrelevance of the question. The latter just isn’t going to happen ever.)
What about a different track… is something sexist?
Well, the thing itself is the thing itself, that’s not going to change. But if we get to slap the “sexist” label on it, it’s Bad. If we don’t, well, we can safely let it continue.
So, a woman working in a recruitment agency spots a man’s CV, and then throws it immediately into the discard pile because “why would a man want that job?”
“Sexist!!” cry one side. “She actively discriminated against someone because of their gender, that’s sexist by definition.”
“Not sexist!!” cries the other. “That doesn’t have a systematic bias against men as a class because sexism by definition requires power.”
Well, duh. It fargles and it bargles. But it’s only bad if we call it a Gloob. And Gloobs fargle, but they also don’t bargle, by definition, what are we to make of something that does both or neither?
Ultimately, these arguments are as absurd as arguing whether a blue ball is a round object xor a blue object.