Common Fallacious Reactions to Recent Protests

Some major recurring logical fallacies I have observed in the past weeks in peoples negative reactions to protests and the idea of #DefundThePolice.

1. Whataboutism – pointing out “black on black crime” or other such things that distract from the actual issues . The “what about this white guy who was shot by a cop” line fits here to, but has a unique twist in trying to validate one angle – that of unjust police brutality – while attempting to de-legitimize the other; systemic racist oppression.

2. Red herring – “Don’t forget about the good ones!” Framing around individuals – be they good or bad – misses the point. We shouldn’t dehumanize anyone, “good” police officers included, but neither can we allow the system of policing to go on dehumanizing the rest of us. It’s different than whataboutism because rather than just distracting or discrediting the core argument it tries to re-frame it and make the issue about the “bad ones”

3. Sunk Cost – This manifests as an inability to imagine any means other than police to deal with crime or social problems. ie. “yeah, they have some longstanding problems with corruption and abusing people, but It’d probably be worse if we didn’t have them. Better stick with it!”

There is plenty of victim blaming and false equivalence as well I suppose. Victim blaming is a form of ad hominem of which whataboutism is sort of a variant, depending on how its done. False equivalence has tended to be more of a pre-reaction. They aren’t even getting to the point of considering anything the protesters have to say because they get stuck at the rioting and looting being just as bad (or maybe worse really) than the murder of people. Resisting arrest or being obstinate with police is not on par with shooting a man in the back as he runs away. It’s not close really, and yet, the common retort is “they shouldn’t have resisted.”

Nothing surprising really, these are common logical fallacies people have been committing since forever, but I hope pointing them out in this case this helps people think a little sharper about the issues or maybe improves how to respond to those who you might think are on the wrong side of things this time around.


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