Further Fallacy Fun

you too

“You do it, too” is not an argument.

And so today, ripped from the headlines, a beautiful example of what is known as the Tu quoque Fallacy:

“If Roger Stone was indicted for lying to Congress, what about the lying done by Comey, Brennan, Clapper, Lisa Page & lover, Baker and soooo many others? What about Hillary to FBI and her 33,000 deleted Emails? What about Lisa & Peter’s deleted texts & Wiener’s laptop? Much more!”

This is our president’s response to the indictment of an old crony of his (and former colleague of mine*) Roger Stone. We might start calling it the Trump Fallacy, he uses it so often. Tu quoque is essentially the “you do it, too” argument. Which is no argument, really. Any parent of a teenager likely has heard this one. The teen tries to dodge a question about their behavior, and dodge a discussion of the issue, with an attempt to change the subject and to shift the burden of the argument onto you. But of course, you are not the issue. Let’s look at the failure of this logic for a moment.

President Trump is saying that if Roger Stone has to go to jail, then so do these other people. That usually is not the way we decide who gets arrested. Rather than claiming ‘other people do it, too” as a defense, we use evidence to show that the accused is seriously suspected of criminal activity. Other cases generally don’t have much if any relevance to the current one, because these other cases are not in question. Plus, these other cases have been investigated, which makes Trump’s assertion disingenuous, as he’s trying to make it appear that these other cases have not been argued, examined and decided. So what Trump has put forward is not a counter-argument but a counter-attack. And, as such, it’s a false distraction from the real issue and cannot be taken seriously.

*My relationship with Mr. Stone goes back to 1980 when he was hired as a ‘consultant’ to the congressman I worked for. So I was subjected to a number of lunches, phone calls, conference room meetings and such with this vile hypocrite. He constantly bragged about various dirty tricks he said he got away with, about his various alleged sexual exploits, and other examples of his ‘eccentric genius.’ He had the mentality of a 15-year-old and loved to think of himself as a naughty boy. I believe this enemy of democracy is highly deserving of a jail sentence.

Author: Craig Butcher

Craig Butcher is an award-winning educator who has taught critical thinking skills for more than two decades. In addition, he has worked on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer and has been a top-rated broadcaster.