I found this week’s silly meme on the Facebook page of a friend who normally publishes pro-liberal items, so I was taken aback. Later, he edited his post to say he didn’t agree with it and just wanted to start some conversations.
The text (inexplicably saved into an image file instead of a text field) was written by someone with a fundamental misunderstanding of words — especially the word “liberal”.
Used as a noun, liberal is defined as “a person with liberal views”, which simply reuses the word as an adjective to modify “views”. As an adjective, liberal is defined as:
A “person with liberal views” therefore wouldn’t do any of the things this meme says a liberal would do. Even if you could find a rare case of a person otherwise described as a “liberal” who wants one of the things on this list, it would not be for the reason listed. For example, you probably can find someone in today’s “liberal” camp who claims she “wants all guns outlawed” — but it would not be for the reason: “doesn’t like guns” — it would be for the reason: “guns are inherently dangerous, designed to be deadly, and cause more harm than good”. You would also probably find that this person doesn’t actually want to ban all guns; more likely is that they don’t want firearms in the hands of untrained and unregulated civilians.
The meme further displays a fundamental misunderstanding of reality, almost certainly caused by consistent ingestion of far-right “news”.
Because it is the extreme right propagandists who paint all liberals and “leftists” as wanting to ban all guns, wanting to ban all meat products, wanting government support rather than work, censoring TV shows, banning religion, demanding “free” health care, and randomly deleting or blocking because “he’s offended”.
(To be fair, there are far left organizations in the U.S. who paint conservatives with similar brush strokes: “ammosexual”, wantonly killing and abusing all manner of animals, favoring cessation of all forms of government assistance, censoring TV shows, forcing religion on everyone, denying healthcare to everyone but the wealthy, and constantly deleting or blocking because “facts don’t fit his worldview”. Although, to be extremely fair, some of these things ARE in the official GOP platform, and many conservatives DO vote for GOP candidates.)
My immediate comment was “Doesn’t know the definition of ‘liberal’.” This blog entry is my longer response, after further contemplation.
The meme is also a Gish gallop, a debating technique that attempts to overwhelm the opponent with a rapid series of poor arguments, logical fallacies, half-truths, and misrepresentations in as little space/time as possible — knowing it would require much more effort, time, and/or space to refute each of them individually. Each line in the meme is fundamentally flawed in a different way. To address each flaw correctly would require more effort than the average person is willing to put in. Someone who agrees with the meme can simply click “like” or type “I agree!”, while someone who disagrees is left with the choice of either putting up the effort to debunk the entire thing or just moving on.
Most of the lines are also straw man arguments as well as drastic oversimplifications of complex issues — both very common logical fallacies.
For example, the church/belief line is both a strawman and an oversimplification.
It’s a strawman because it misrepresents the argument of political liberals in the U.S. No liberal “wants any mention of God and Jesus silenced” — we very specifically have said we don’t want our government preaching religion at us, funding religious practices, or banning/allowing things simply because their religion says to ban/allow them.
And it’s an oversimplification fallacy for many reasons. The typical liberal positions is that public school athletes are free to pray in the huddle before a game, but the coach (a representative of the government; his salary paid by taxpayer dollars) can’t lead or encourage the prayer. Conservatives often simplify this to “banning prayer in schools!” We believe Vice President Mike Pence or Texas Lieutenant Governer Danny Goeb (stage name: “Dan Patrick”) are free to be fundamentalist Christians, attend any church they desire as often as they wish, and speak about God and Jesus and deity-impregnated virgins as often as they want — on their own time — but that they mustn’t govern via their religion or publicly favor any religion over another while they are acting as representatives of every citizen within their jurisdiction. Conservatives often interpret this as “wants any mention of God and Jesus silenced” (as the meme said). Further, it’s an oversimplification because (as I noted last week), most liberals are actually religious, just as are most conservatives. (The person who wrote this probably ignored how many times Hillary Clinton referred to God, prayer, and her Christian faith during the 2016 campaign.)
Go through the meme line by line; every one contains at least one logical fallacy, and most contain at least one untruth or at least oversimplification. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the meme is that I only found one grammatical error in it (the comma after “A liberal” about halfway through).
If I were to respond point-by-point, I might do it thusly: