Parade of Horribles

A parade of horribles is not always a fallacy . Yes, the rhetorical device is often used in inappropriate manners; but the fact it can be misused does not invalidate the technique in toto. The parade of horribles which stems from accepting the parade of horribles as a valid reasoning tool do not render the rhetorical device a logical fallacy. When someone marches out this particular class of argument, the validity of the argument needs to be determined in its specific instance. Horrors which will occur either way do not make a persuasive argument. Horrors which are very likely to occur and are actually horrible compared to any benefit from the argument? The parade is a legitimate argument.

I find myself thinking a lot about these parades while watching the Senate Impeachment trial. There are horrifying consequences to accepting some of the Defense’s positions. Dershowitz proclaims that “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest; and, if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” How is that a reasonable position? Not holding the next election is “in the public interest” … but quite clearly an offense against the core tenants of this country.

Their argument fell apart a bit because it essentially exonerates Nixon — he wanted to get re-elected “in the public interest”, had people break into the Watergate to increase his re-election chances … and saying that Nixon is different because he destroyed evidence is a laughable contortion. Didn’t he destroy evidence in the nation’s best interest too?

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