LQCs: Mass Shootings and Logical Fallacies

More causes of mass shootings revealed, in just the past couple days!


I haven’t quite found the precise logical fallacy these people are engaging in, if there is one (there should be). “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” is a bit of it — this is the assumption, grown out of the notion that “everything happens for a reason,” that if one thing happens before another thing, the first must have *caused* the second. This is a favorite of conservatives, especially the religious, who blame natural catastrophes on social trends they disapprove of. You see this constantly from people like Pat Robertson, who attributes deadly hurricanes to the acceptance of gays, for example. And you are seeing this now from conservatives trying to rationalize the circumstances that enable the prevalence of mass shootings in America as due to anything, anything, other than the widespread existence of deadly weapons throughout society. This isn’t to blame “law-abiding gun owners,” as Watters implies critics do in the last link above; he is either obtuse or deliberately missing the point for rhetorical (ratings) purposes.

— The reason, if it needs to be spelled out, since so many conservatives seem not to understand it: the mere existence of so many firearms, even if owned by law-abiding owners, in a society makes it *easier* for anyone to act *on impulse* to commit mass murder. If the guns weren’t around, these people would still exist, they would still fly into rages or nurse long-standing grievances, but they wouldn’t be able to grab the firepower so quickly, if at all, to engage in the massacres they are committing now. Limiting the prevalence of dangerous firearms in society is just like keeping matches away from children. —

But “post hoc” doesn’t cover it by far. Defenders of gun rights are very selective about where they place their blame. There’s a large element of scapegoating, assigning blame for *anything*, whether hurricanes or gun massacres, to the things they don’t like: gays, abortions, interracial marriages.

And a common element is the fallacy called “to quoque,” meaning “you too!” A response to criticism by deflecting the critique back on the critic. If Republicans are criticized, they find reasons to blame the Democrats, as in examples above. Pot calling kettle black. Projection.

I’ll keep looking for a better term for this blame-everyone-but-me-but-especially-people-i-don’t-like fallacy. I think this aligns with my thought the other day that there are some people who simply don’t grasp the idea of cause and effect, of evidence and reason, who think that any imaginary reason they can come up with is as valid as any other, if they can get anyone to believe it; and that these are the people who most rely on ideology, and who are conservatives.

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