Originally published February 18, 2016 on the Huffington Post
In response to the justifiably negative reactions to Donald Trump’s off-the-wall proposal to do far worse to terrorists than merely waterboarding them, Eric Trump defended his father as follows:
You see these terrorists that are flying planes into buildings, right? You see our cities getting shot up in California. You see Paris getting shot up. And then somebody complains when a terrorist gets waterboarded [sic], which quite frankly is no different than what happens on college campuses and frat houses every day. And, you know, the man would keep this country safe. There is no question about it.
The trivialization of torture by comparing it to what goes on in frat houses is not only contemptible, but completely outrageous. Unfortunately, it’s just one of the many kinds of dumb, outrageous arguments that are awash in today’s highly charged and polarized environment–assuming of course that the contention deserves to be dignified by calling it an “argument.”
While it’s true that dumb arguments are filled with an overabundance of lies, half-truths, disinformation, and misinformation, they are primarily distinguished by their outrageousness. They make claims that by any measure are palpably absurd. Through the sheer numbers that bombard us daily, they have become “normalized.” They are no longer a rare exception.
It’s time to get serious about combatting dumb arguments. If we do not, then dumbness will only not only continue to grow, but spiral out of control. The inevitable result is a society that is increasingly unable to consider intelligent policies to meet the serious issues that engulf us. We creep dangerously close to this ill end every day.