Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Law of the Ridiculous Reverse, in practice

I've written about Simon Hoggart's Law of the Ridiculous Reverse, whereby political statements can be judged as meaningless if their opposites are absurd. Mark Steel in the Independent has put this into practice in an opinion piece on the recent parliamentary debate about whether Britain should bomb Syria. Here are a few choice bits (emphasis added):

Then there were the Labour MPs supporting the bombing, who all assured us: “I have given this matter a great deal of thought and not taken this decision lightly.” This was highly considerate of them. Not one of them said: “I’ve given this no thought as I couldn’t give a monkey’s wank. So I made my decision by putting two slugs on a beermat and the one on the left reached the end first, so I’m with Corbyn.”

Then came the speech by Hilary Benn, which was so powerful that it persuaded MPs such as Stella Creasy to vote with Cameron. She said afterwards: “Benn persuaded me fascism should be defeated.” 
Presumably then, until his speech, she thought fascism was worth a try. When she makes a full statement, it will say: “I always thought I might try fascism as a hobby when I retire, but Hilary explained the negative aspects very well so, on balance, I decided it’s best to defeat it.”
Dozens of MPs were keen to remind us how much Isis hates us, which would be a reasonable point, if people opposed to bombing were saying: “Oh, I don’t think they mind us all that much. We’ve just got off on the wrong foot. Maybe if we invite them to a barbecue we’ll find out we’ve got more in common that we realise.”

Friday, 4 December 2015