Over the weekend Yours Truly tweeted this:
It is a logical fallacy to conclude that only women can decide what laws apply to women or "women's bodies." But a persistent cherished one
— William M. Briggs (@mattstat) October 28, 2012
Within five minutes of posting, I lost seven Twitter followers, people presumably displeased with the entry. Since this is me, I first thought of an egregious typo. What have I done now! But no typo. Perhaps the grammar? Which instead of what, dummy. The lack of a comma after “persistent”? I ran out of characters and it had to be sacrificed.
Well, in fact, it is the result of a fallacious argument to conclude that only women can decide which laws apply to women, or which laws apply to women’s bodies. True, it is a redundancy to add “women’s bodies”, but the phrase is there for emphasis; its presence does not invalidate the statement.
Perhaps those that fled disagreed and instead thought it true that only women should decide which laws apply to women and to “women’s bodies”? Nah, it couldn’t be.
If it is so that only women can decide laws which apply to women, does that mean only men can decide those laws which apply to men? What about boys and girls? Do they get to decide their own laws? How about blacks? More importantly, what about black women? Who but black women can decide which laws apply to black women, you racist.
Of course, it doesn’t follow that because only women can decide laws for women that only men can decide laws for men. It might be that only women can decide laws for men, too. Or that women allow a vote to men about those laws which apply to men. But since women outnumber men, the de facto result is that women make all laws, even those over men’s bodies.
Maybe it was abortion, that appalling topic? Those than ran from my tweet might have concluded that because a baby grows inside a woman that only the woman has a right to say what should happen to that baby. But that is a fallacy, or at least an evasion, because the argument is not whether the woman has rights over the baby, but whether the baby is a human being. If it is, then no woman has a right to kill it. And no man, either.
And it if isn’t a human being, it still does not follow that only the woman is the only person who has a right to kill it. What about the man who shared in its creation? Why do his rights evaporate?
Besides, all history and all cultures—and even you, dear reader—acknowledge that a person, even a female person, does not have the right to do anything she wants with her body. For example, what if a woman, using her own body, decides to slit the throat of her neighbor? Most would frown on that sort of thing. What if a woman takes her body and flings it from a high place onto your automobile? Most would say this is not her right.
Anyway, point is, even the briefest consideration shows the tweet was correct, so people can’t have left because of that.
There is another possibility. I made the tweet in response to a statement of President Obama’s, who quipped that he thought only women should decide which laws apply to their “bodies.” If there is any modern Thou Shalt Not, at least in some circles, it is criticizing this fine gentleman.