Sawing off the limb you're sitting on

A new acquaintance uses "The Ishmael Effect" to describe the phenomenon of self-defeating propositions, such as
‘It is (absolutely) true that truth is relative’; ‘we ought to think that there is no such thing as thought’; and ‘the one immorality is to believe in morality" . . . .
It came to mind when I read James Taranto's report today of the dilemma faced by NARAL:
"One of the nation's most prominent abortion rights groups is working to remake its image in response to concern that it may be overtaken by a growing cadre of young anti-abortion activists," Roll Call reports.  "Its message: This is not your mother's NARAL."
That's undoubtedly true.  If you're under 40, NARAL's efforts make it much likelier that your mother didn't even have children.  There's something both poignant and funny about a group devoted to abortion puzzling over its difficulty in finding young people to support it.


Grim said...

I've never seen a more ironic slogan than "This is not your mother's NARAL."

E Hines said...

One of my stat profs at NMSU told a tale of asking her Intro to Stat students to illustrate the idea of independent events. One of her students suggested that whether she (the student) had children was independent of whether that student's mother had children.

Eric Hines

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@Grim: well, even though I tend to be pro-legalisation of marijuana, you have to admit the irony of the organisation name NORML is pretty high.

This is not your mother's NARAL. Yes, and not your unborn older sister's NARAL either. But that would be thinking in logically consistent, rather than emotive terms.

Which is the difficulty. Social politics is conducted along largely emotive rather than intellectual lines - though it's often part of the advertising to let you think you're being quite the intellectual for adopting a particular POV. In such situations, it is usually futile to answer with an intellectual, rather than status-based argument.

In this case, the message is "You're not a little girl anymore, you're a real grownup who shows her independence by doing what is fashionable among your friends, not your Mom's." There's no point in trying to refute that logically.

Anonymous said...

One of the most poignant things I ever read was a comment on abortion over at PJ media- the woman was describing how her mother had to go to new locale to bear her, because of unremitting pressure from friends and local relatives to have an abortion.
She said even now, as an adult, those same people were insisting it would have been the "correct" thing to do.
Understandably she was extremely upset by this-
I used to think progressive thought would have us as serfs, but am coming to the conclusion we are regarded more as farm animals, to dispose of as they wish.