Response to a bizarre Twitter storm

Jul 29, 2014

This morning (29th July 2014) I posted three tweets together, making a simple logical point. It seemed barely plausible that such an obvious point needed making, but the subsequent tsunami (as one tweeter called it) of  agonised attacks, not only on Twitter but in some blogs and even some newspapers, actually demonstrated the opposite.

My first tweet set out the logic without any specific example. It’s hard to imagine anyone objecting, and I don’t think anybody did:-
X is bad. Y is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of X, go away and don’t come back until you’ve learned how to think logically.

Tweet 1

I fleshed it out with two examples:-

Tweet 2

I should of course have said RELATIVELY mild. Obviously I don’t think any pedophilia is mild in an absolute sense. But I presume most victims would agree that being touched by an adult hand (though very unpleasant, as I know from my own childhood experience) is RELATIVELY speaking not SO unpleasant as being violently penetrated by an adult penis. But the logical point is, or should be, uncontroversial: no endorsement of the less bad option is implied.

My second hypothetical example, which caused most of the trouble, was this:

Tweet 3

In both my hypothetical examples, I made the mistake of forgetting to put quotation marks around the hypothetical quotations. The second one, for instance, should be amended to

“Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse.” If you think anybody who said that would thereby be endorsing date rape, go away and learn how to think.

Actually, it’s rather plausible that some people might find date rape WORSE than being raped by a stranger (let’s leave the “at knifepoint” out of it). Think of the disillusionment, the betrayal of trust in someone you thought was a friend. But my logical point remains unchanged. It applies to any hypothetical X and Y, which could be reversed. Thus:-

“Being raped by a stranger is bad. Being raped by a formerly trusted friend is worse.” If you think that hypothetical quotation is an endorsement of rape by strangers, go away and learn how to think.

I wasn’t even saying it is RIGHT to rank one kind of rape as worse than another (that caused an immense amount of agony and a scarcely creditable level of vitriolic abuse in the Twittosphere). You may be one of those who thinks all forms of rape are EQUALLY bad, and should  not, in principle be ranked at all, ever. In that case my logical point won’t be relevant to you and you don’t need to take offence (although you might have trouble being a judge who is expected to give heavier sentences for worse versions of the same crime). All I was saying is that IF you are one of those who is prepared to say that one kind of rape is worse than another (whichever particular kinds those might be), this doesn’t imply that you approve of the less bad one. It is still bad. Just not AS bad.

I was only talking logic, with no desire to make light of the seriousness of any kind of rape or any kind of pedophilia. And the hypothetical comparisons that illustrated my logical point could, in all cases, be reversed without in any way changing the validity of the logic.


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