Thursday, March 18, 2010

Generalizations Invalidate Arguments

This blog post began as a comment I made in response to a comment I encountered at Mixx, on a story about an incident involving racism at Wal-Mart.
The comments referenced throughout this post were written as a response to the following comments by a Mixxer by the name of kpreston200. The following is a sampling of the quotes being referenced throughout this article:
"Because everyone is getting tired of blacks using racism as an excuse for their woes..."
"The REAL way to end all of this is to finish school, go to college and act like a respectable member of the community willing to work with others and respecting others space."

"I was enrolling my daughter to college and this black kid walked by with his sagging pants and underwear hanging out! This is fucking COLLEGE!"

"She was mad at me for telling him to pull his pants up that he was in college ready to go out into the world and become someone. I mean WTF?"

"There is white trash also but it seems that this excuse is getting old and it's being used to get away with every anti-social behavior from calling each other the N-Word yet they are ready to kill when someone else says it."
My initial response to these remarks was the following:
"You do realize you're talking to a U.S. Marine, don't you? I consider him a respectable member of society, as do I all servicemen and women."
To which kpreston200 replied:
"So what is that supposed to mean? I'm a retired U.S. Army Major so what."
The following is my reply to that particular remark, written for the sake of explaining and further clarifying the underlying meaning and motive of my initial statement:

I respect you as well.  Specifically, I was referencing your quote about "black people" 'acting like respectable members of society'.

What I was saying is that the man you've been debating is just one of many, many examples of just that. He has offered to potentially (if not actually, I don't know the specifics of his military career) put his life on the line in defense of other Americans, and to the best of my knowledge, he is of African-American descent.

There are few actions people can take on their own behalf than volunteer to defend the United States that will earn more respect from me, for that given individual --- regardless of whether or not I agree with him or her politically, or regardless of whether or not I like the person. I can respect someone without liking and/or agreeing with him or her. For the record, that is not to say I dislike katmicjus --- please make no misunderstanding about that. We do occasionally disagree, but my above-point was spoken in a much broader context.

Essentially, my point was that your wording was too broad to constitute a valid argument.

Each individual is responsible for his or her own decisions in life regardless of race, religion, etc. There are good examples and bad examples no matter how you break down the demographics.
In other words, by referring to "black people", you are committing a logical fallacy in that each black person (like any other person) is an individual who must make choices in life and cannot by lumped in with other individuals who have the free will to make their own decisions. That fallacy invalidates an entire argument, and pursuing it beyond that without restructuring the framework and terms is an exercise in futility.

We were all created as equals, and each individual human being is 100% responsible and accountable for the decisions he or she makes in life. Different people male different decisions, and groups cannot be accurately lumped in together based upon arbitrary factors such as race.

Does that help clarify the original remark and help answer your question?

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