Speech Matters

Speech Matters
On Lying, Morality, and the Law
By Seana Valentine Shiffrin
Review by Bob Lane on Tue, May 9th 2017.
      Long before I studied philosophy my father taught me a profound lesson about speech. He was a proponent of the old observation that one  should “say what you mean and mean what you say”. One day as he left for work he asked me, a boy of six, to pick up some trash from the back yard. “I will, Daddy!” said I with enthusiasm. Upon returning that evening he asked if I had completed my chore. Having completely forgotten about my promise, I nevertheless responded “Oh, yes, Daddy!” not even considering that he would have seen the back yard when he drove his pickup into the back. “Good boy,” he said.
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Great-Grandfather

surville_thumb

My Great-grandfather carried with him a beautiful name with many parts. He was a lawyer, an insurance salesman, a builder in the early days of Colorado, and a mayor of Glenwood Springs in the early 20th century. In the picture here from the Glenwood Springs museum archives he is with his wife and his granddaughter, my Mom. Jean Baptiste Surville DeLanois (aka J. B. Surville) was also a poet. And more here.

Begs the question

Re: ‘Anonymous posts are not the real issue’ (Daily News, Aug. 27) Today’s editorial provides an interesting discussion of the problem of anonymous commentators who are prone to be rhetorically outrageous and then fail to sign their names.

All was going along smoothly until the penultimate paragraph where once again your committee of authors misuses the “begs the question” phrase.

Should be “raises the question,” dear editor — “begs the question” is the name of an informal fallacy in logic, as you must know.

It is my job as a dedicated reader of print media to point out this howler every time it occurs. I have been very busy of late.

Bob Lane Nanaimo Credit: Bob Lane; The Daily News

Letter to the editor – old!

Click to access welfare.pdf

ABSTRACT (ABSTRACT) Careful readers will have noticed that the entire right-wing rant starts with not just a hypothetical but with a conditioned hypothetical: “It was almost as though some were resigned to their plight” writes the unknown ranter.What? Did the writer see that fatalism in the television images? Is that like USA Senator Frist when he diagnosed ahealthy Terri Shiavo from a video image? I know that people see what they want to see, but this is a bit like Alicewhen she claims to have seen “No one” on the road.

FULL TEXT

Dear sir: Your borrowed editorial in the Saturday edition is such a fine example of nonsense that I cannot refrain from commenting. I tried for several minutes to find a cogent argument in the piece from the National Post, but, alas, I could not. All that is there is an attitude, an agenda, an assertion that the death and destruction in New Orleans is partly the result of “a reliance on social assistance.”

The National Post piece suggests that it is always the fault of a welfare system that the poor are poor; my goodness, it finger-wags, “if you had any self-reliance at all you would have picked up your children and your sick and ill parents and carried them out of the rising water on your back.” But, no, because of government aid in the past you waited for government aid again as the water rose and the stench filled the air. Careful readers will have noticed that the entire right-wing rant starts with not just a hypothetical but with a conditioned hypothetical: “It was almost as though some were resigned to their plight” writes the unknown ranter. What? Did the writer see that fatalism in the television images? Is that like USA Senator Frist when he diagnosed ahealthy Terri Shiavo from a video image? I know that people see what they want to see, but this is a bit like Alicewhen she claims to have seen “No one” on the road. (“What good eyes you must have,” said the Queen.)

To be brief I won’t mention the unsubstantiated factoids and empty psychological analysis from a distance. I do not think that we know enough about the event, the assistance, the aftermath to preach from afar. And certainly not from so far right!

And in spite of the editorial stance I urge that those that can should go to the Canadian Red Cross and make a donation.

Bob Lane

Nanaimo, B.C.