Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What makes something or someone controversial?

One thing I notice is how the media poisons the well by calling a conservative spokesman or conservative position "controversial". 

i) To begin with, the media only applies this label to conservatives and conservative/traditional positions. For instance, "Russell Moore's controversial LGBT comments at Justice Conference."

They use the adjective "controversial" as a prejudicial introduction. 

ii) Apropos (i), the label is one-sided. What makes a person or position "controversial"? As used by the media, it's instantly controversial if liberals are offended. 

Of course, that's one-sided inasmuch as liberal positions are just as "controversial" to conservatives as conservative positions are "controversial" to liberals. 

iii) In addition, the label is circular. Basically, you're controversial if the media say you're controversial. Your position is controversial if liberal pundits and liberal academics say your position is controversial. As if just using the label makes it so. "By definition," so-and-so's position is controversial because some people call it controversial. 

There's no substantive reason. Just a question-begging, self-reinforcing characterization. 

iv) The question is, "controversial" to whom? For instance, segregating public restrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams by biological gender isn't "controversial" to most people. 

1 comment:

  1. Another tactic oft used by liberals:

    "The modern method is to assume without discussion that [your opponent] is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it Bulverism. Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father - who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third - 'Oh you say that because you are a man'. 'At that moment', E. Bulver assures us, 'there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.' That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century." (C.S. Lewis, "Bulverism", God in the Dock)