Editorial: Using children to gain moral ground

The question is raised as to whether children should be used for emotional appeals

Can we put a lid on the call to “Think of the children”?

This spin is so manipulative (and meaningless) that it actually has its own entry in wikipedia.

Here’s what they have to say:

“When used as a plea for pity, this appeal to emotion can constitute a potential logical fallacy…”

An emotion appeal becomes fallacious when it is intended to subvert rational thought. In other words, when an argumentative plea for pity hinges on the emotional appeal of “thinking of the children,” the speaker may really intending to shut down any other viewpoint.

In arguing in favour of constructing a bike park in the John Phillips Memorial Park, one could argue that such a park would show that the “fading generation” (coined by a Facebook fan of Sooke Mountain Cycle) cared for children, the future generation.

This sets up the parallel argument: if you’re against the park, then you don’t like children.

Nothing can be further from the truth. While I don’t have the statistical base to back up this claim, I’m willing to bet that there are many fine residents here in Sooke who sort of like children AND have a range of interests that go beyond a bike skills park. In fact, a bike skills park may not even be a part of their mental landscape. Yet, oddly, they may still like children.

Yes, there is a place in this world for a call to think of the children. The entry in Wikipedia ties it to social justice.

“While when used as an appeal for sympathy for weaker members of society, or the social good of the long-term health and viability of a society,” continues the entry in Wikipedia, “it can constitute an argument for social justice generally accepted as appropriate.”

In other words, issues like child labour, child soldiers, child abuse, access to education, food and shelter, the right to thrive … these are all viable reasons to plead for the reader/listener to think of the children. You might also include broader social issues like burgeoning debt, the erosion of the middle-class, insidious “internships” for bussing tables at Fairmont hotels, and unleashing science from political and corporate influence in the list.

Somehow, fitting a bike skills park into the argumentative call for the public to “think of the children” reminds me of that old Sesame Street, “One of these things just doesn’t belong.”

Just Posted

Work begins on Sooke’s Evergreen Centre expansion

More trees will be planted to replace those lost

Researchers head out from Sidney to explore Canada’s largest underwater volcano

The Explorer Seamount is as large as Greater Vancouver and full of previously undiscovered species

RCMP confirm foul play in death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Police believe crime an isolated incident

Prolific offender found sleeping in Oak Bay resident’s car

Of 106 calls to 911 last week, eight were abandoned

RCMP identify Sidney bank robbery suspect, believe he is still on Vancouver Island

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Canadian is detained in China on drug allegations: Chinese government

Detention of a Canadian in China comes as part a diplomatic dispute triggered by arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou

Rare white ravens spotted again in mid-Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

Most Read