Deliberately Misreading a Metaphor as an Identity

A favorite tactic used by unprincipled partisans on the Internet is to take an opposing side's metaphor and read it as an identity, and so turn it from a trope that shines the spotlight on one particular aspect of a situation into an absurdity that makes the opponent look like a buffoon.

So let us say this partisan wants to ridicule the Old Testament. They turn to the Song of Solomon and find:
Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep
which go up from the washing,
whereof every one beareth twins,
and there is not one barren among them.
Of course, the author knew that no woman's teeth are like sheep in every, or indeed, even in very many, respects. The author was noting the uniform whiteness and even regularity of the teeth by comparing them to the same features of a flock of sheep.

But the partisan comments on the passage as follows: "Oh my God, those idiots writing the Old Testament thought that a woman's teeth were hoofed animals that had four legs, could give birth to young, and provided nutritious milk which could be used to make cheese! What morons!"

And here's a real-world example. N.T. Wright argues that the "wrong-side-of-history" argument being used against SSM-opponents is silly: after all, the same argument was used against opponents of the Iraq War in 2003, and look how foolish that appears now.

His point is obviously, "The overwhelming consensus of 'informed' opinion can be seriously wrong at times." That is the only parallel he is drawing between the two cases. But of course, it only took a couple of minutes before someone showed up and wrote, "Because allowing two people who are in love to formalize their relationship in the eyes of the state is JUST like unleashing mayhem that will end up killing tens of thousands of innocent people."

So Wright made an analogy between one aspect of the push for the Iraq War and the push for gay marriage. And this dishonest hack immediately claimed that Wright must mean they are the exact same thing!

We need a catchy name for this, so people who are doing it can be called out easily. Suggestions? (I'm thinking of something like "snowclone.")

4 comments:

  1. "Because allowing two people who are in love to formalize their relationship in the eyes of the state"

    Perhaps the person has not heard of civil partnerships?

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Because allowing two people who are in love to formalize their relationship in the eyes of the state"

    Perhaps the person has not heard of civil partnerships?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Silly to think this is an argument rather than an observation. Sillier to think this is a counter to it since the judgment of history presupposes previous error. Just welcome snark.

    ReplyDelete