Mysteries of logical reasoning

A belief in the freedom to do X may be motivated by many things other than a desire to do X.

Published March 30, 2009 2:17PM (EDT)

(1) Anyone who favors marijuana legalization just wants to get high without being hassled, and anyone who favors drug decriminalization generally is or wants to be a drug user.

(2) Anyone who opposes a return to alcohol prohibition is almost certainly an out-of-control drunk.

(3) Anyone who cares about gay marriage or advocates for equal rights for gay couples is a closet homosexual who just wants to have sex with people of the same gender.  The only reason anyone would care about that issue is if one wants to have gay sex.

(4) Anyone who believes in free speech rights for Communists obviously opposes private property ownership and craves Stalinism.  Anyone who believes in free assembly rights for neo-Nazis secretly admires Hitler.

(5) Anyone who believes abortion should be legal just wants to have reckless sex without consequences.  

(6) Anyone who advocates habeas corpus rights for accused terrorists or who opposes torture harbors sympathy for Islamic extremism and approves of indiscriminate violence against civilians.

(7) Anyone who opposes unrestrained government surveillance must be doing bad things in private that they want to hide.

(8) Anyone who believes in the freedom to practice a certain religion is probably an adherent of that religion and is motivated by a desire to practice it without interference.

Why is most everyone capable of understanding the egregious, illogical stupidity of propositions (2)-(8) -- based on the bleedingly obvious premise that one can advocate the freedom to do X for reasons other than a desire to do X -- while so many people embrace the equally illogical and stupid reasoning of proposition (1) as though it so self-evidently true that it requires no discussion?

* * * * *

I'm traveling today and into tomorrow, so posting will be light to non-existent.  A few additional points to note for now:

(1) Time permitting, I'll have much to say about the extremely significant step taken by the Spanish prosecutor to commence a possible criminal prosecution of Bush administration lawyers who attempted to legalize torture.  For now, Andrew Sullivan has good analysis here and here.  The more other countries comply with their obligations to investigate and prosecute our war crimes (and doing so is a binding obligation), the more shameful our own refusal to do so becomes.

(2) Juan Cole examines -- quite critically -- Obama's rhetoric and reasoning on escalation in Afghanistan.

(3) Crooks & Liars has a new feature whereby it is posting decades-old, archived television news programs, such as this 1974 Meet the Press appearance from Ronald Reagan.  I find clips like that generally fascinating, as contemporaneous discussions provide insight into past eras that are otherwise unattainable.  There are many more worthwhile archived clips like that one, on C&L's new nostalgia page, here.

(4) Barry Eisler is a former CIA agent-turned-excellent fiction writer, and has been writing increasingly political books about the intelligence and military worlds from a left-leaning perspective.  His latest book, just recently released, is Fault Line, which -- among other things -- uses numerous characters named after various liberal bloggers (as Hilzoy amusingly discovered here) and features several blogs (including this one) in its plot.  I haven't yet read that book, but it is both unusual and constructive to have well-written works of fiction about those topics written from a perspective other than Tom-Clancy-mania.  The Wall St. Journal has a profile of Eisler here and those interested can purchase his book here.

(5) Susie Madrak continues to endure financial difficulty, and in particular is struggling to keep her health insurance.  If you enjoy her blogging as I do and are able and inclined to help, she explains her predicament here.

(6) As a reminder:  on the evening of March 31 (tomorrow), I will be in Ithaca to accept the Izzy Award for independent journalism along with Amy Goodman, and the event should be interesting (event details are here).  On April 3, at noon, I'll be at the Cato Institute to present my report on drug decriminalization in Portugal and how it relates to drug policy debates in the U.S. (I wrote about that report here, and event details and/or live video streaming are here).  On the evening of April 3, I'll be on Bill Moyers' Journal on PBS along with Amy Goodman to discuss independent journalism and the state of the political media generally; local listings are here.  I'll also likely be on Rachel Maddow's show sometime this week and will post details once it is confirmed.

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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