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In the last few weeks, I've become increasingly aware of something that is guaranteed to piss me off and get me in a rage. It's all the variations on the "No True Scotsman" argument.

For those not in the know, the NTS argument goes something like this (lifted directly from Wikipedia, this is a quote from the British philosopher who originated the term) - and in order to understand this, Brighton is in England, and Aberdeen is in Scotland:

Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the "Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again". Hamish is shocked and declares that "No Scotsman would do such a thing". The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again; and, this time, finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, "No true Scotsman would do such a thing". - Antony Flew

In other words, no person in my group would do such a thing. If they identify themselves as part of my group, they still aren't part of my group, because their actions neatly remove them from my group.

In other words, "No True Scotsman" can just as easily be worded "Not My Problem."

Yeah. Uh huh.

How many times have I heard riffs on this in the last few weeks? Come over the fleur-de-Kos with me, if you would be so kind...

First, there's that jackass ex-assistant attorney general Shirvell, from Michigan. You know, the one who just got hit with a $4.5 million dollar judgment from a jury after harassing, libeling and slandering the openly gay student body president of the University of Michigan? Yeah, that one. His behavior clearly shows him to be a) homophobic and b) so deep in the closet he can see Narnia. If you watch his interview with Anderson Cooper, you can see at least five or six "tells" that this guy is a self-hating gay man. It's as obvious as watching Ted Haggard in "Jesus Camp" as he says "Oh, that's fabulous!" every three sentences.

But there are GLBT people who don't want it said that Shirvell is a gay man. "He just makes gay people look bad," they say. "Don't claim him as one of us!"

Frankly? I'm not good with that.

We can either admit he's a closeted gay man who hates gay men, or we can say "no TRUE gay man would be that homophobic!" and pretend he's not one of us. That second option may be more palatable, but it doesn't solve the problem, because he is one of us. He may not be part of our political movement, but he's still a gay man, and just like all human beings, gay men come in the self-hating homophobic variety as much as straight men or women or blacks or anyone else. Denying that he's gay serves no purpose except to place our hands over our ears and sing La La La.

Second, there's the ongoing debate about whether the Phelps group and other groups like them (ahem, the Family Research Council, for example) are Christians or not. "No TRUE Christian would express that kind of hate!" say the people who think these group are not Christians. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of other people who think like them and skate up to that line who claim to be Christians too. Are we going to define them away so that we don't have to accept that they see themselves as part of that group? Well, we can... but it's dishonest. They say they're Christians. Christians can either say "They are Christians, but their interpretation of the teachings is wrong," or they can just ignore them by saying "Well, they're not Christians, so although they're abhorrent, they're not our problem."

The third riff on the No True Scotsman fantasy that I'm sure we'll see in the next few days is probably going to be a reaction to this jackass Todd Akin, in Missouri, who apparently thinks that women only get pregnant from sex they wanted to have, so it's not rape if she got pregnant. This view is so beyond the pale that I can't help but believe that the few sane Republicans left out there (who aren't professional politicians) are going to start saying "But he's not a TRUE Republican! We don't believe that!" We're also going to see a bunch of Teapublicans claiming that those sane Republicans are not "TRUE Republicans." And neither of them will be correct.

Here's the thing about the No True Scotsman fallacy. It's a way to say "That person might be part of my group, but the group is not the reason he's acting the way he's acting or saying the things she's saying, so it's Not My Problem." The problem is, that's untrue. Groups form partially to keep their members under some kind of social control. And when someone who claims to be part of your group defies the social standards of behavior for that group, your job is not to ignore it. It makes your group look weak and makes the person doing the actions the standard for how people will judge your group. Even though it's distasteful in the extreme, the gay community needs to get Shirvell under control, and the liberal Christian community needs to get the whackjobs claiming their name under control, and the Republican Party - well, it's completely lost the ability to control people like Akin, because it's been completely taken over by people like him.

The idea is to get people in our communities under control before they take over. There's no help for the Republican Party at this point. Let's be honest. The true name for that second party at this point is the Teapublican Party. It's full of far-right Tea Party nuts. If anything, the Teapublicans will probably say that any sane Republican who speaks out against Todd Akin is "no true Republican," at this point.

And friends and neighbors, that's sad.

We've turned into a nation of groups that, by continuing to define away who isn't part of us, is also denying responsibility for policing them.

At some point, someone's got to step up and say, "This IS our problem. Let's deal with it."

Originally posted to Killer of Sacred Cows on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 07:03 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Voltaire said: Common sense is not so common (16+ / 0-)

    The same is true with logic. Logic is an uncommon occurrence  among human beings, even though we like to see ourselves as rational creatures.

    We commit the Tu quo que fallacy, ad hominem attacks, fallacy of division/composition (this happens a lot in the DKos), the fallacy of ad populum, hasty generalization as you mention the true Scotsman fallacy, etc.

    I myself commit some of these fallacies from time to time. I bet I committed a few on this site.

    If we expect that somehow we can stop commit logical fallacies that would be too much. It would mean that we have attained perfection of the mind, which is impossible.

    So we will continue to make them.

    •  I'd question that definition of perfection. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalSal, walkshills

      Human beings cannot nor should ever be required to be 100% logical in all aspects of their lives. The biggest part of what makes us human is our deep emotions and empathy for one another. Remove that one trait alone, and you get a psychopath.

      While obviously we should strive to use logic as a process to aid us in making sensible decisions according to our aims, those aims themselves cannot be determined purely through logic. To do that is to reject the subjective and emotional aspect of our being and would produce what I can only imagine to be a society more profoundly sick than ours is today by several orders of magnitude.

      Perfection of the mind must include equal space both for the rigorous process of logic and also suitable accommodations for our own more arbitrary and subjective preferences/feelings/etc in a way that enables them both to function together cooperatively.

  •  How do we get them under control? (7+ / 0-)

    In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. Ben Franklin

    by nokkonwud on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 07:36:06 PM PDT

  •  Shirvell self-identifies as straight. (28+ / 0-)

    We might be have our suspicions about his closet status based on his behavior (I haven't seen footage of him myself), but isn't part of our creed as gay people that we respect people's right to say what identity they want to claim?

    Even if that weren't the case, I don't know how gay people/the gay community could police someone who adamantly insists he's not part of that community. Isn't most community policing brought about by peer pressure/enforcing social norms? If he doesn't value the opinion of the gay community, why would he change his behavior?

    If you have any ideas on how to reach self-hating gays and save them from a life of self- and other-destruction, I'd be interested to hear them. That would be a worthy project to undertake, but as I understand it, the problem won't go away until the cultural stigma against gayness goes away, and we're doing our best to change that already by being out and proud. Can't really hurry that process along.

    •  This is a good point (4+ / 0-)

      It is a conundrum.  

      I was a kid when the whole "outing" phenomenon started up (at least that's how it seemed to me, listening to the gays in my family circle talk -- people may have been doing it before then).  I was lucky that I had some very smart gay role models who discussed things like this with me in my formative years.  I listened to the whole raging debate.  The outing thing was a conundrum at first too.

      I do think that the diarist's discussion of the Scotsman fallacy is an important step on that road.  We know that a large chunk of the population won't be able to come to a place of logic and self-examination.  At least some of us come to a place like this to make that available, and some of us engage in it.  It's slow going, but I think it's the only recourse we've got.

    •  Yes, this was my question to this very good diary: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      How do we get Shirvell under control?  

      Gay people chanting outside his window, "Come out, come out, wherever you are....!" ?

      Sprinkling glitter on his doorstep?
      Having a nice sit-down brunch with NGLTF?  I'm sure he'll be all ears.  

      Or forceably outing him (with pics? with wiretaps? with...?).  

      I mean, I really am all for getting him under control, but I don't have any idea how to do it.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:07:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You can't really blame people (8+ / 0-)

    When you see something like the above examples, the knee-jerk reaction is that they don't WANT those people in their community or social group.  

    There's nothing wrong with that, I don't want them in my community or social group, either.  

    It's phrased poorly in many cases, but we can often boil it down to "no decent human being would do that."

    For groups with a hierarchical level of authority, control of the individual may or may not be possible.  The Republican party can discourage, but has no authority to sanction unless the person is a lawmaker or reliant on the party for their income.

    For those without it, such as the gay community, no control is possible at all.  What are they supposed to do, sit on him until he behaves?  That's illegal.  Freezing him out of social functions...I'm sure it's happened already and it's ineffective as a method of control.  Full shunning might work, but good luck getting the entire populace, gay and straight, to do it.

    (-6.25, -6.77) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

    by Lonely Liberal in PA on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 07:48:58 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, but castigating the person as an outsider (2+ / 0-)

      and then moving along is a cop-out.  It is a natural reaction to isolate yourself from the problem and avoid conflict, but hoping stuff goes away doesn't always work.

      Also note: the GOP is a master of the reverse - taking credit for anything good that happens, even if they opposed the mechanisms and policies that caused the outcome.  They will endlessly gush about how the free-market created the middle class and how the union movement almost stiffled it.

      and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

      by ban48 on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:00:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  dunno -- a cop-out compared to what? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lonely Liberal in PA

        I'd say that the cop-out commonly employed by Christians with respect to vocal homophobes is to ignore them and hope they go away. To castigate them actually seems to be a big step up, and in some respects the antithesis of a "not my problem" reaction.

        Unfortunately, criticizing Fred Phelps as un-Christian is not nearly enough -- so, in the broader scheme of things, it really can be a cop-out. But I don't think it's a cop-out on the basis that it's a "No True Scotsman" argument and therefore a "Not My Problem" argument.

        If someone argues that Christians love gay people, and responds to copious counterexamples by saying that, oh, those people aren't real Christians, that indeed is a classic No True Scotsman argument. But I think that usually the point of calling Fred Phelps un-Christian isn't to engage in an empirical argument about characteristics of Christians, just as the point of calling xenophobia un-American isn't to engage in an empirical argument about characteristics of Americans.

        Election protection: there's an app for that!
        Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

        by HudsonValleyMark on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:33:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  More like: if you go to a church every week and (3+ / 0-)

          hear sermon after sermon after sermon about how gay people are a corruption, then one friday night some members of the church are drunk at the bar and beat the crap out of two guys for holding hand.  then everyone in the congregation says "we are a church of peace and love!  No true member of our congregation would do that!"  Then everyone goes back to business as-normal.

          It is a cop-out - you fail to admit the sermons are instigating acts of violence either because you don't want to admit it or don't want to confront it.  AKA - cop-out.....

          Now simply replace violence against homosexuals with violence against women, minorities, the poor, people of other faiths, etc., etc.....

          and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

          by ban48 on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 01:33:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  strange fact (3+ / 0-)

            Almost 30 years ago now, I attended a very conservative church for about two years. I never heard a sermon about how gay people are a corruption; if the pastor had anything to say about homosexuality at all, it was perfunctory.

            I don't think the pastor was the least bit progressive. I think he just assumed that no one in the church was gay, and that gloating about other people's sins is something that Jesus clearly warned against.

            There must have been gay people in that congregation, and that must have pretty much sucked -- but not because hatred was being preached.

            Of course I don't know the overall prevalence of anti-gay sermons, then or now. I would guess that they are more common now than they were then, given the politicization of evangelical churches.

            I agree that anyone who sits through a sermon about the corruption of gay people, and says nothing about it, has something to answer for. I can't say much more about that, because I don't remember being in that position.

            Election protection: there's an app for that!
            Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

            by HudsonValleyMark on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 02:49:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Over the top demonization might be rare, but there (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              is the chinese-water-torture type always present.  I remember as a kid going to easter service at the catholic church and the trial of jesus was played out, complete with audience (congregation) lines that said: And the jews respond "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

              You might not even be aware of it when you are a little kid, but crap like that sinks in.....

              and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

              by ban48 on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:21:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  "under control" (3+ / 0-)
    Groups form partially to keep their members under some kind of social control. ... Even though it's distasteful in the extreme, the gay community needs to get Shirvell under control ...
    I'm trying to remember reading any proposal quite like this one.

    Do you mean Shirvell needs to be explicitly outed? Like, if somebody has diddled the dude in the shower the world needs to know?

    I've never heard before the suggestion that the gay community formed in order ("partially") to keep one another under social control.

    •  All communities originally do. (0+ / 0-)

      Not just the gay community. Every community, back to the first hunter-gatherers, has bonded around (in part) the need for social control of its members.

      I'm saying that we need to own him as one of ours instead of saying he's not one of ours. He is. Whether he likes it or not, whether we like it or not. He's still gay. Saying he's not doesn't help us.

      Science can tell you how to clone a dinosaur. Humanities explains why this is a bad idea.

      by Killer of Sacred Cows on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 09:40:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Does self-identification or behavior (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirkster42, nickrud, Rick Aucoin, Val

        automatically make one a member of a group? If so, then the group cannot and does not have the ability to keep its members under control. If not, then it's up to the group to decide who is and isn't a member, and so the "No True Scotsman" fallacy doesn't apply.

        "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

        by AaronInSanDiego on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:16:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  what? (0+ / 0-)

        Are Kim Jung Un and I are part of the straight community together.  Am I supposed to be doing something about his human rights abuses, or do I just have to be willing to admit that some straight people do bad things in order to avoid the No True Scotsman fallacy?

        The latter two examples you use make sense because individuals in both of those groups choose to claim the name of the group just as the Scotsman in the original narrative claimed to be a Scotsman.  

        If I claimed to be a member of the Tea Party as my political affiliation, then I'm not committing the fallacy to say that Akin is not part of my group.  So, isn't the fact that Shirvell doesn't claim to be part of the gay "community" significant?

  •  I don't think they are the same. (9+ / 0-)

    Saying it's not my problem is a different thing altogether.

    I think I can say that no true Scotsperson would do something based on the pride that comes with being a Scot.

    That doesn't mean it's not my problem to try to fix in whatever way I can.

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature.

    by ZenTrainer on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 08:06:33 PM PDT

  •  Well, yes (4+ / 0-)

    I remember Anderson Cooper's takedown of Andrew Shirvell quite well. I was thinking "closet as big as the Ritz," but in a state of denial that would make even the ex-gay movement a little nervous. I'm happy to let him identify however he wants.

    If the amount of the verdict stands, though, he's going to have to come to terms with himself very quickly because I'm not sure what skills he may have that would help him come up with the money.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 08:25:59 PM PDT

  •  Exactly what are other Christians supposed to do (6+ / 0-)

    about Phelps?  Geez. I get what you are saying, but in this case we are dealing with someone that's short a bolt or two. How the hell is Christendom to deal with THAT????

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 09:15:29 PM PDT

  •  This community isn't immune (2+ / 0-)

    I posted this comment in a thread where other posters were claiming that behavior we approved of (helping rebuild the Joplin mosque) came from "True Christians".

    Granted I didn't elaborate, but looking at the number of recommends responders to me received, my view was not appreciated by most posters here.

  •  "No True Scotsman" always drives me nuts (4+ / 0-)

    as a logic instructor because it probably collapses down into either "Begging the Question" or "Equivocation" depending on how you are scoring at home.

    I'll always be...King of Bain...I'll always be...King of Bain

    by AZphilosopher on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:48:22 AM PDT

  •  "so deep in the closet he can see Narnia" (4+ / 0-)

    Man, I LOVE that!  New to me, anyways.

    I'm gonna be using that one.

    Thanks for the Monday morning chuckle!

    The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. -

    by No one gets out alive on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 05:49:10 AM PDT

  •  I don't think it's so cut and dried (5+ / 0-)

    and I don't think that large groups of people have the ability to control everyone claiming to be part of their group.

    In one sense, what you're asking these groups of people to do to "control" behavior they don't like, is actually a request to invoke the No True Scotsman argument!  Aside from actually collecting membership fees and issuing cards, a group can only apply peer pressure to stop bad behavior from someone claiming to be a member of their group.  So the argument becomes, " Members of our group do NOT act this way, and you must stop this if you want to be considered a member of our group."  The first part of that sentence is the No true Scotsman argument.

    The problem is that groups are often quick to trot out that response when it's not needed -  when the words or actions are so clearly the work of a tiny number of individuals that they couldn't claim to represent the group anyway.  You'll see plenty of statements saying some group abhors the violence after a bombing or killing perpetrated by some nut.  Where groups fail to do this is when the offensive segment is a larger minority, like an entire Christian sect or a number of congregations.  Surprisingly, one recent exception to this is the condemnation of Paul Ryan's budget by the Catholic church.

    In the end, the only reason people attempt to use No True Scotsman is because of the lack of reasoning power within the population at large.  If people used more truth and less truthiness, more brains and less emotion when thinking about these kinds of issues, they'd not make the kinds of blanket assumptions that lead someone to defend their group with No True Scotsman.

  •  Other implications (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nickrud, barbwires, Clues, Rick Aucoin

    Interest group politics has always carried this seed of its own mortality. If you are in favor of categorical boosterism, well, Condoleezza Rice is an example to other black women, Alberto Gonzalez to the latino community, Clarence Thomas to black men. At its heart, the accusation of being an "Uncle Tom" or an "Oreo" or similar is also precisely this attempt to claim that "no true X" would act like this. Instead of a call to get these people "under control" (which sounds creepily like a version of Stalinist thought-policing) we'd do better to rethink the politics of categorizations in the first place.

  •  I agree with the Christian argument (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Killer of Sacred Cows

    And that is why I've changed my sigline. Enough allowing other people to create a more selfish, horrible world by distorting the words of Christ. I'm dropping the fucking gauntlet. People like Mitt Romney/the prosperity gospel folks, etc. are gonna have to pick a side.

    "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." -- JC, Matthew 6:24

    by Chi on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:27:55 AM PDT

    •  Are you willing to give up the name? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Killer of Sacred Cows

      Would you be prepared to say, "I'm not a Christian, but I follow Christ's philosophy?"

      This is the way these religious differences have always worked out historically.  One part of a group decides to give up whatever name they're going by at the time, we get a schism, and then we normally get a holy war.

  •  It's the anti-houle-hoop... (0+ / 0-)

    That is exactly the opposite of the Houle Hoop.
    Fascinating. You should do a venn diagram.

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:30:53 AM PDT

  •  Gosh, this is a great argument (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nickrud, niemann, Rick Aucoin

    For kicking me out of the Democratic party because I'm not sufficiently in the tank for drone assassinations, debt reduction, Wall Steet non-proscecutions, or the ACA.  Deite the fact that i will vote for Obama, and donate my effort and time to the campaign. It's a fascist arugument .

  •  Another example. (3+ / 0-)

    Tipped and Rec'd, I have a huge problem with the NTS argument.  Here, I'll post a conversation I had with a friend on facebook last week that still has me roiled:

    (This was part of a bigger conversation comparing segregation in the 60s to opponents of LGBT today.  I had posted a "replace "black with gay" meme pic):

    HER: I believe in free speech and respect your right to post what you want. I also am a Christ follower and I love lots of people who are black and gay. I don't know any Christian, including myself, who fits in with the profile you promote. I'm not going to debate with you, because I don't think you want to know the truth of the position I take as a Christ follower. If you care to know my truth, I am happy to tell. It is not, nor has it ever been about hate.

    Jim Summers I think that every white person in the picture above would argue that they are a "Christian". I would bet that every single one of them went to church on a weekly basis, and had heard sermons from the pulpit extolling the seperation of the races from biblican principles. Theirs was the "Standard Christian Dogma". You can find it today if you google "Bible verses mixing race", you get this wonderful Christian Sermon against "mongrelization" as you second hit:

    But here's the nub of it. Today, in 2012, we look back at this picture, at these Christians who firmly believe they stood in Christ and that they were doing a biblical thing, and we call them bigots. We see that their "faith" wasn't based on the love of Christ, it was bigotry based on local hatreds taught them as children by their parents, preachers, and society. In exactly the same way, I think the Christians of 2062 will look back at the smug Chick-fil-A Christians of today with the same dismay that you look at the photo above.

    HER: No Christian leader who is following Christ would ever endorse segregation.

    ME:Until the 1960s virtually EVERY SINGLE CHRISTIAN LEADER IN THE UNITED STATES endorsed segregation! Let's not rewrite history please.

    This is 2012, what happened in the 60's is not relevant, particularly when it is contrary to Biblical principles

    ME: ‎"No Christian leader who is following Christ would ever endorse segregation".
    This is an example of the "No True Scotsman" logical fallacy.
    This was part of a larger back and forth, but the lack of acceptance of Christianity of the 1950s just floored me.  It ended up getting worse...  I ended up disengaging before I destroyed our friendship.

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:54:58 AM PDT

  •  Like them or not they are all a part (0+ / 0-)

    of our greater community.  The devil is in the generalizations about any group of people.  What can we do but try to lead and educate?

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:56:39 AM PDT

  •  I strongly disagree. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nickrud, Rick Aucoin
    His behavior clearly shows him to be a) homophobic and b) so deep in the closet he can see Narnia. If you watch his interview with Anderson Cooper, you can see at least five or six "tells" that this guy is a self-hating gay man. It's as obvious as watching Ted Haggard in "Jesus Camp" as he says "Oh, that's fabulous!" every three sentences.
    His behavior shows him to be effeminate.  Sucking cock makes you GAY.  Please learn the difference.  There are lots of effiminant men out there who aren't gay.  There are plenty of masculine men out there who are gay.   Ted Haggerty isn't gay because he says "fabulous", it's because he slept with a hustler.  

    I think I agree with the post above who says that if someone spends their entire life saying they opposed teh LGBT community and aren't gay, then they really aren't part of the LGBT community.   I mean, surely membership is a group depends on more than where you stick your dick?

    (Yes, I know that what actually what makes you gays is if you have same-sex attraction, regardless of whether you act on it.  My point stands.  Stop tying masculinity to being straight, and feminism to being gay.  It's rude, and slightly homophobic, and slightly mysogynistic).

    Now, rant over.  Good diary.  Just a bad example there.  

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:01:11 AM PDT

  •  On the other hand. It is often unfair to condemn (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a group of people based on the actions of a few individuals. That is something done to promote stereotypes. If a black man commits a crime are we to blaim the black community. Of course not! Is the splc or the gay community responsible for the frc shooting. No. This sort of argument can be abused in both directions.

    Ask top al Qaeda leaders about Obama's foreign policy. Wait, you can't. They're dead. -Paul Begala

    by Fickle on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:02:09 AM PDT

  •  There are several nits to pick here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'll just choose one. Being a Scotsman is an inate category, you're born with it. The 'no true scotsman' argument has an underlying assumption that you're trying to dissassociate from cannot be, because it's innate and identical among all in the category.

    About the only time I ever see the No True Scotsman defence used is when someone is attacking a loose association by attempting to apply one belief held by a subset of the association to all. As conniptionfit says above, he's No True Democrat by your rules.

    Try to shout at the right buildings for a few months.

    by nickrud on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:04:48 AM PDT

  •  Dialogue with a Republican grandmother (4+ / 0-)

    Dialogue between my wife and her Republican grandmother during the Senate Watergate hearings of 1973:

    M (my spouse): "I see you're watching the Watergate hearings, Gram. What do you think?"

    GRAM: "I hate that Lowell Weicker, that dirty Democrat."

    M: "Gram, Senator Weicker is a Republican."

    GRAM: "No he isn't. No Republican would be running down our President like that! He's a Democrat, and Democrats are no good!"

    M: "Gram, I'm a Democrat."

    GRAM: "Noooooo! You're a Republican!"

    "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be." - Thomas Jefferson

    by Blue Boomer on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:23:20 AM PDT

  •  Body habits do not equal orientation. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You make the claim that this guy is gay without any real knowledge of his actual sexual desires or proclivities, and then use that to further your thesis.  You may be right, you may be wrong, but you're asserting your opinion as fact in that case.  It is your opinion that he is a closeted gay, not a fact.

    Your other two cases do support your thesis better, since they have self-identified as Christians and Republicans, and have been accepted as such by others until they 'stepped over the line'. (At least for the FRC... The Phelps folks stepped over the line a looong time ago.)

  •  'Aberdeen is in GLASGOW'??? Ye Gods! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Please ensure that your basic facts are correct.....if you are VERY lucky, the inhabitants of 'The Silver City with the Golden Sands', Aberdeen (Obar Dheathain) will not be burning you in effigy at this very moment!

    Ross ('man from the headland', in Scots Gaelic)

  •  My Son's Take (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Killer of Sacred Cows

    My son is on the debate team at high high school.  He said the "No True Scotsman" fallacy is just a complicated way of saying "that doesn't count".

  •  Unuseful (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    niemann, Rick Aucoin

    First off, calling someone gay because they act like a homosexual stereotype is the actions of a twelve year old, not a mature adult making a reasoned argument. If the man from Aberdeen was identified as 'looking like a Scot' but insisting he was from Liverpool, would you say, 'hey, he looks like a Scot, he must be one'?

    Second off, 'no true Scotsman' isn't always a fallacy. If someone calls himself a Christian, but explicitly denies the divinity of Christ, what are we to do? No true Christian would deny the divinity of Christ. That's what makes you a Christian. Likewise, it could easily be argued that anyone who doesn't follow the teachings of Christ is a Christian. Why not? An economist who called himself a Keynesian but advocated against fiscal stimulus when the economy has bottomed out and interest rates are already at zero would be laughed at by both sides. Because a Keynesian who doesn't believe in the theories expounded by Keynes is certainly no true Keynesian.

    I'm sorry, your diatribe is certainly impassioned but it's hardly the argument-stopper you seem to think it is.

  •  I kind of have the opposite reaction (4+ / 0-)

    to the phrase "No True Scotsman."  I usually hear it when people can't make a distinction between an empirical and a normative claim.  (We have normative standards for "better" Democrats - to apply the logic by which people usually try to demolish arguments by trotting out the "No True Scotsman" accusation, we wouldn't be able to distinguish between Elizabeth Warren and Max Baucus, because they are both Democrats.)  But that question of how the normative and the empirical interact also seems to me to be a major signpost of what the nature of the basic culture clash at this point in American history is.  

    On the surface, you've got the loudest voices being a kind of religious conservative voice, that believes in an absolute standard which is above the empirical, and then you've got a counter-voice that says the empirical is the only valid approach (even leading to arguments against moral responsibility as the logical outcome).  The latter will have a hard time not folding a normative claim into an empirical claim, while the former is increasingly unable to deal with the empirical at all (witness desperate measures to deny evolution, etc.).

    If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

    by dirkster42 on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:32:44 AM PDT

  •  Oh, and Fred Phelps is just a distraction. (0+ / 0-)

    Replace Phelps with Rowan Williams, and your argument would be a million times stronger.

    If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

    by dirkster42 on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:41:38 AM PDT

  •  For what it is worth (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Killer of Sacred Cows

    (forgive me if it has already been mentioned) but Aberdeen and Glasgow are both cities in Scotland. Aberdeen is not in Glasgow.

    The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by maggiejean on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:42:45 AM PDT

  •  Excellent diary. (2+ / 0-)

    Although, regarding Shirvell, I don't think we can in good faith call him part of the LGBT community.  He hasn't stated that he is gay.  He may exhibit certain "tells" that you or I may think indicate sexual preference. But no matter how accurate we think our "gaydars" may be no gets to proclaim anyone as gay until that person does.

    But that example notwithstanding I highly approve of your diary.  If Phelps and Akin aren't Christian or Republican respectively then they are claiming to be and it is incumbant on each of those groups to actively distance themselves and to challenge these interlopers.  Otherwise people will rightly think that maybe those groups don't really have that big of a problem with Phelps and Akin using their brand.

    Another good corollary is 9/11 truthers and Movement Liberalism.  If one recalls there was a not incredibly small contingent of self identified liberals that bought into that crap.  But 9/11 truthers are now, by and large, considered a right wing conspiracy - NWO and Alex Jones specifically.

    The reason for that was because most movement liberals would not allow those conspiracy theories to be associated with them.  Reference Kos' policy of autobanning for CT on this site as exhibit A.  

    The fact that we don't see similar policies from Christian
    (read: conservative Christian) groups and the GOP are telling as to what their true stance regarding Phelps and Akin.

    "If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people." -Tony Benn (-6.38,-6.36)

    by The Rational Hatter on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:46:27 AM PDT

    •  You are right about Shrivel not being part of the (0+ / 0-)

      LGBTQ community. Gay implies out because there is no community in the closet. A closeted homosexual cannot properly be called gay. In that sense, he really is not a true Scotsman.

      Seek not that the things which happen should happen as you wish; but wish the things which happen to be as they are, and you will have a tranquil flow of life.

      by Montreal Progressive on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:29:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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