Two trends in online commenting/writing/arguing I wish would stop….
1.) Whenever I see the term “thought experiment”, I cringe because I know what is coming is something either racist or sexist or just hateful against a group of people in general. Case in point, Sam Harris’s “thought experiment” about genocide against the Palestinians by Israel or pick-up artist Rhoosh talking about legalizing rape if done on private property or anything Charlie Hebdo does. It is often the equivalent of saying “I am not a racist but” or “I am (something bad) but”. Either own your comments or don’t bother and calling something satire only makes it so if you have a clear target you are satirizing. Most written self- proclaimed “satire” I see these days is nothing of the sort.
2.) Absence of scale, comparing two events that are not even remotely the same level of seriousness or size or historical import reduces your argument. Some examples – All three Democratic candidates for president have referred to the 2008 recession as “a new great depression”. While the 2008 recession was awful especially for homeowners and millennials just out school looking for work, it came nowhere near to 30% of the country out of work, soup lines, brother can you spare a dime?. Talk to someone who lived through the 1930’s and you’ll hear some terrible stories. Another example – Comparing David Bowie sleeping with an underage groupie in the early 70’s to Bill Cosby drugging and raping scores of women over decades is nonsense. What Bowie did may be wrong but there’s no similarity there. I am guilty of this too – I have often compared Israel to Nazi Germany and while I do believe that Israel has engaged in widespread war crimes (such as in Lebanon in the 1980’s and Gaza numerous times), South Africa and Jim Crow era South are probably better comparisons for now although Israel actually exterminating the Palestinians is more than conceivable. Of course, calling someone a Nazi and Godwin’s Law are among the most obvious signs of a lack of scale. Hillary Clinton saying Vladimir Putin is like Hitler, Republicans saying Obama is Hitler etc.