I know the following might be difficult to grasp for all you amateur internet logicians out there, but give it the ol’ college try anyhow. (I also know there’s a strand of Ironic Twitter commentary which immediately discounts the invocation of “Logic!” as somehow inherently foolhardy, and while I’ve often found such memes funny, logic is an important field of philosophy and everyone should study it. For serious.)
Tonight, in his infinite wisdom, Sean Hannity tweeted out an approbation of WikiLeaks.
This tweet was then eagerly passed around by heroes of the #ImWithHer bent looking to discredit WikiLeaks, because WikiLeaks has had the audacity to publish revelatory materials on their chosen leader Hillary. So these heroic titans of Twitter have been frantically searching for ways to prove that Assange is a pawn of the Russian intelligence apparatus, deluded, sexually predatory, or whatever — pick your poison. Anything to avoid addressing the content of the publications, which is damning.
Drawing attention to Hannity’s change of heart on WikiLeaks — he unsurprisingly called Chelsea Manning treasonous back in 2010 when WikiLeaks published the Iraq/Afghanistan logs and the State Department cable trove — is just the heroes’ latest attempt to show that WikiLeaks is now Bad with a capital B, after having previously been Good with a capital G. Let’s work out how their logical theorem progresses.
- Sean Hannity is Bad
- Sean Hannity likes WikiLeaks
- WikiLeaks is therefore bad
Wow, good stuff here — the type of staggeringly incisive philosophizing that would’ve made W. V. Quine envious. I guess we should briefly “unpack” why this logic is faulty, for the edification of very desperately confused people on the internet.
Hannity might indeed be bad with a capital B, but his being Bad doesn’t ipso facto make anything he likes Bad. For instance, Hannity may well also like dogs. I’ll be damned if dogs are Bad because Bad Hannity likes them. Please do not sully our canine friends by dint of their association with Hannity.
Let’s go to another extreme. Genocide is not bad because Hitler did it, genocide is bad because there are all sorts of reasons that can be marshaled to prove its badness: it’s bad to kill people on account of their inborn characteristics, etc. Hitler is also bad, but his being bad is not what inherently makes genocide bad.
In a similar sense, the question of whether WikiLeaks is Good or Bad doesn’t hinge on Hannity’s feelings. That might be an interesting little side-curiousity, and it proves Hannity’s own personal inconsistencies (wow, very shocking and unexpected that Hannity is inconsistent) but it says nothing about the moral character of WikiLeaks or its utility as a publishing enterprise. If you want to demonstrate that WikiLeaks is Bad you’d have to produce reasons beyond “X Likes WikiLeaks!” And if that’s the only reason you can produce, maybe your case is lacking.
Indeed, maybe you’re the one who’s Bad. Wowwwwww.