Clinton Is Not the Only Liar.
(Printed in the Towanda Daily Review on October 25, 1998. The title above was not the title used by the paper.)
Jill Darling and Frank Leeland use a similar logical fallacy in their columns to try to persuade readers of their opinions. Petitio Principii (Circular Reasoning) occurs when the claim that the writer attempts to assert is assumed to be true. Their arguments begin with the claim that society is decaying, then conclude that only through the acceptance of their religious beliefs can the trend be reversed. How do they support their initial claim that society is decaying? By assuming that there is a decay and that it resulted from the lack of acceptance of their religion.
Darling (Review, Sept. 12): "the philosophy of the 1960s and 1970s has wreaked havoc on our society," "Conscientious morality has given way to unrestrained self-gratification," and "sin runs rampant." Leeland (Review, Oct. 10): " the decline in moral, ethical and spiritual values that has taken place …," and "the nations decline."
The above quotations were used by Darling and Leeland as reasons why their religion must be embraced. Yet no evidence in support of a generally decaying society is presented. Both attempt somehow to show that their claims are valid by referring to President Clinton's current problems, then extrapolating them to apply to our entire society (another logical fallacy).
The pre-sixties, prior to the "If it feels good, do it" era, had to have been better than current times for Darling's claims of the degradation of society to be true. Yet the fifties were an era of segregation, repression, and denial; many women were subjugated by their husbands; there were no national dialogs on rape, child abuse, spousal abuse, sexual harassment, and child molestation. (S. Kangas, Suite101.com, 11/14/97) And this was a time when prayer was permitted in public schools.
Leeland wrote, "They placed barriers in the Constitution to prevent those destructive elements from causing our nations ruin… ." And one of the prime destructive elements that our Founders targeted was religion. As students of history, they understood that the mingling of church and state corrupted both.
Leeland continued, "There is little doubt that the Bible played a large part in the writing of the Constitution, it is evident throughout the document." Except that our Founding Fathers were Deists, not Christians. The only influence that the Bible had on the Constitution was that the Bible probably demonstrated how not to "form a more perfect union".
Because Darling and Leeland have little or no basis for their doomsday claims doesn't mean that all is well in our country. There are still serious problems, two of which are unwanted pregnancies and teen suicides. Yet the Republican majority of Congress, instead of addressing these and other serious concerns, are preoccupied with Bill Clinton's penis and where it has been rather than leaving it for Hillary to worry about.
How's that for the ultimate in circular reasoning. The Republicans claim that we need more religion to protect us from the acts of Clinton – acts which they spectacularly publicized. Maybe the Republicans aren't promoting a religious agenda. Maybe we just need more of it when they are in office.
John L. Ferri