This Is Akin to That: Scoping Language

Law West of the Pecos, Tom Jones drawing,

Law West of the Pecos, Tom Jones drawing.

“Gun rights groups have vowed to fight such moves [to limit the unfettered sale of bullets]: ‘Raising taxes on bullets to offset the cost of gun violence is akin to putting a levy on prescription drugs to pay for the price of heroin addiction,’ one critic said.”
(“Your Monday News Briefing…”, NYTimes, 9- 10-18)

Certain analogies, in my cautious opinion, can be disingenuous. They may possibly deploy a rhetorical sleight-of-hand that reminds me of a magician who dexterously draws the viewer’s eye away from where the trick is actually being pulled off.

The formula is akin to putting something made essentially for one purpose on an apparent equal footing with something else made essentially for a different purpose — guns with pencils, bullets with antibiotics, for example — then to proclaim (or imply) an ostensible absurdity deriving from similar treatment accorded the two things.

Here’s a rough paraphrase of two samples:

A. Disparate items joined in shotgun marriage: Guns [made to launch projectiles that make holes on impact] are like pencils [made for marking on various surfaces].
B. Ostensible absurdity: Saying guns kill people is like saying pencils make spelling errors.
C. Simplistic conclusion: It makes no more sense to impose controls on guns than to impose them on pencils! People are the problem!

A. Disparate items joined in shotgun marriage: Bullets [made to explode from a tube in order to deliver a hole-making payload] are like antibiotics [made to fight infection in people and animals].
B. Ostensible absurdity: Taxing bullets in order to offset the illicit harm they inflict is like taxing medicinal drugs in order to offset the harm inflicted by illicit drugs.
C. Simplistic conclusion: It makes no more sense to tax bullets than to tax penicillin! People are the problem!

Maybe it’s simply true after all that people are the problem behind all our problems. That, to almost quote Winston Churchill, is a proposition up with which I shall not fuck.

I’d like to try my own hand at the this-is-akin-to-that type of argument, though:

—> Proposition: Taxing sugar because it can contribute to diabetes is akin to taxing baby toys because they can get thrown out of the cradle.
—> Proposition: Imposing term limits on congressmen is akin to slapping governors on Ferrari engines.
—> Proposition: ‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c.’

Aw hey, it’s all in good fun. This mouse doesn’t roar.

[Copyright (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.]

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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