Demonizing the opponent, ignore the argument

I’m evil. Okay, that’s not news. I’m just evil again. Why? It’s the Seattle bag fee thing again. Since I’m opposed to the bag fee I’ve learned I’m lazy, selfish, and in league with the Chemical Companies, which we all know are evil.

Well, I am lazy. And…I have moments of being selfish. I also believe in better living through chemistry, but none of that has anything to do with the Seattle bag fee.

One sign of a bad or weak argument is whether the position or the character of the person presenting the facts are being attacked. A recent, egregious example of this is the Swift Boat attack on John Kerry.

Let’s look at the spin in the Georgetown blog that the Chemical Companies are “behind this.” Note that there isn’t anything in the “outing”of the chemical companies that actually gets at the substance of opposing the fee. Many mysterious and dastardly motives are being insinuated, which is awfully sneaky. As sneaky as Chemical Company backers are supposed to be, ain’t it?

The other big flaw in this, at least as far as I see it, is that it is the makers of the bags (the evil chemical companies) who’ve made the bags ever lighter while keeping the same strength over the past 20 years. IOW, they’ve been actively working to decrease the space plastic grocery bags take up in landfill while the rest of us were happily gorging ourselves on materialism.

The flip side of “yeah, but just look at who is on the other side!” is another sign of a weak argument. That is laying claim to being a Good Guy…or better yet, a Mom. Even good people can have crappy ideas. Being wrong, but nice, is still being wrong.

The moms and Georgetown (both entities I like a whole lot as a rule) may not even be wrong here…there’s room for reasonable people to disagree, but what interests me is this. For all the time proponents have put into sniping, bullying, and insulting opponents, they don’t seem to have any time left over to read any citations or discuss any of the facts in opposition to the cited goals.

The impetus behind the bag fee is that it will be a step towards zero waste. Fair enough. That’s the proposition (it’s why I liked the idea at first). Now I’d like to see some facts to back that up. So far all of them I’ve seen have been refuted (which is why I had to change my mind).

There’s plenty of ranting on the part of opponents, but the burden is on the group that has managed to institute a fee on all of us that will do little if anything to help the city towards zero-waste.


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