Eddie Vetter

Archive for the ‘Todd Akin’ Category

First They Came For Todd Akin . . .

In Abortion, Politically Correct, Todd Akin on August 22, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I’ll now vet the merits of the Todd Akin kerfuffle. The Akin affair is a prime example of our debased public discourse, or of what Susan Jacoby called the current “age of American unreason.” Within seconds of Akin’s comments, mouths frothed and nostrils flared. There was no time to think and respond rationally. Jacoby says that more and more we’re seeing “a new species of anti-rationalism . . . that leaves no room for contemplation or logic” (Jacoby, American Age of Unreason, p. 283 and xi-xii). The responses to the Akin “gaffe,” by both sides of the political aisle, have been more emotional than thoughtful. This is in line with what Ronald Dworkin said when he lamented “the lack of any decent argument in American political life.” This is right. There’s no real argument, there’s simply teeth gnashing and agitating. Because, as Dworkins notes, “most people have no interest in discussion or debate with those they regard as belonging to an entirely alien religious or political culture” (Dworkin, Is Democracy Possible, 22). Some involved in the “discussion” will no doubt reply incredulously: “Look around you, there are hundreds of people arguing vehemently!” That is to equivocate on what I mean by ‘argue.’ Sure, there’s noisy assertion-cymbals clanging with contentious sound and fury signifying non-argument. There’s squabbling. There’s disputing. There’s yelling of conclusions. But there is not genuine debate. There’s no argument in the sense of giving reasons for a conclusion that instance valid structures of arguments. And while I disagree with Jacoby and Dworkin on many issues in the above cited works, they’re certainly right to lament our public discourse. In what follows I’ll do the unpopular and offer a defense of Akin, even if disagreeing with certain infelicities of language as well as aspects of his follow-up “clarification,” and focus on the heart of the issue—where the real argument should take place. Read the rest of this entry »