In America all are entitled to their religious beliefs.They are Not entitled to inflict their beliefs on those who don't share their beliefs
— unknowncomic (@unknowncomic) September 4, 2015
So a guy with a paper bag on his head, two holes cut for eyes and one for his pie hole, walks on stage, begins pumping his arms like a choo-choo, and says:
A man walks into a talent agency and says he has a talking dog. The talent agent is skeptical but the man says he’ll prove it.
Man: How does sandpaper feel?
Man: What’s on the top of the building?
Man: Who is the greatest baseball player of all-time
The talent agent kicks the man and dog out of his office. When they get into the hall, the dog turns to the man and asks, “Do you think I should have said Willie Mays?”
A panelist sitting to his left, unable to appreciate the delicate humor of this anecdote, stands and whacks a massive brass gong. And the Unknown Comic, for this is the paper-bag man’s name, has failed to be funny. This was on The Gong Show, hosted by self-professed super-spy and CIA assassin Chuck Barris. Idea was to put people with mostly lousy abilities in front of a camera and see how long they could get through an act before a panel of judges gave them the hook.
After the The Gong Show dried up, the Unknown Comic took to Twitter, where he offered the entry given above in response to the Kim Davis affair. If you can’t see the tweet, it reads “In America all are entitled to their religious beliefs. They are Not entitled to inflict their beliefs on those who don’t share their beliefs.”
The great Unknown’s quip is surprisingly common; dozens of variants flourish. And each time one is offered it receives sage nods. “That’s right. People can’t force some Bible verse on us,” “Religion has no place in the law,” “The government should be free on religion,” Etc.
What a dismal fallacy. The refutation is so obvious that it can scarcely be credited that the fallacy has any life at all. I wielded the hammer—GONG!
—in a reply to Unknown which ran, “You just inflicted your belief on others. I’ll let you punish yourself.”
We’ll dub this the Unknown Fallacy, which is a flavor of the Genetic Fallacy, the false belief that the origin of an argument is sufficient reason to reject it. It is a schoolyard fallacy and evidence of reaction and not reasoned thought.
Faithful Christians1 say that marriage is the holy union between one man, one woman ’til death do them part. Non-Christians say gmarriage is anything the government wants it to be: the willful, temporary abiding of two men, two women, a man and woman attempting unions beyond their first while their spouses still live, and almost surely many more “experiments in living” to come.
Christians reason in two ways: that both the natural law and scripture define holy matrimony (Dale Ahlquist reminds us of the emphasis of this term). To be faithful means accepting these two arguments. Revelation provides the scriptural argument, and it is understood by Christians that non-Christians might not cotton to revelation. But there is still the scientific, natural law argument, which is available to all via reason, and which ought to be accepted by all who value rational thought. The natural law conclusion also corresponds to the view mankind has held for thousands of years—up until a short while ago.
Non-Christians are more variable, but generally agree that might makes right, which is why the government can define gmarriage in whatever way is fashionable. Gmarriage is pure emotion. This is why “love wins.” Might makes right is why some countries actually put the question of marriage definition to vote: the majority (the might) decides truth.
The two positions conflict; it is obvious that both cannot be correct. Non-Christians are the majority and at the least strongly dislike, but more often hate, the Christian view. Christians are in the minority and ask to be left out of acknowledging as true what they know is false. Non-Christians are in general not willing to tolerate public active disagreement. They want to compel Christians photographers, for instance, to film gmarriage ceremonies, for Christians judges to preside over gmarriages, and so on and so on.
Thus non-Christians want to “inflict their beliefs on those who don’t share their beliefs.” Observations have proven this is a true statement. But by itself that truth does not prove the non-Christians are wrong to hold their view about marriage. (Non-Christians are wrong because of the other reasons, given above.)
Anybody who uses the Unknown Fallacy, a.k.a. the Inflicting-Your-View-On-Me Fallacy, is cheating, trying to avoid the hard work of refuting (if it is even possible) his opponent’s argument.
Note: Don’t let’s argue gmarriage, which will come to no end. Instead, do some real homework and find other instances of the Unknown Fallacy—and not just on gmarriage. I’ve seen it used in abortion, euthanasia, and in many other places.
1And others similar to them; I’m using “Christians” and “non-Christians” in a broad sense, as shorthand. You get the idea. Update Or rather, you don’t. See my first comment. Those who accept the traditional view on marriage, which includes those matters of divorce and regmmariage, are called here, merely for shorthand, “Faithful Christians.” I admit the dichotomy “Faithful Christians” and “Heretics” would have been better.