There Is A Difference Between A Precedent And A Warning

There’s a very poorly thought out argument that we seem to be hearing more and more of lately. It goes something like this, “We already do (horrific idea X). Therefore, that’s justification for doing (horrific idea Y).”

Some examples of this sort of thinking include,

“We’ve already bailed out the banks. Therefore, we should definitely bail out the auto industry.”

“Marriage in the United States is already in the toilet. So what difference does it make if gay marriage ends up doing further damage to the institution?”

“Alcohol and cigarettes are legal, so why not legalize marijuana?”

Of course, the banking bailout has been a chaotic, poorly thought out, ineffective, and almost unbelievably expensive failure. All that it should take to convince people that further bailouts are a bad idea is to point at the banking bailout.

Marriage in the United States is indeed faring poorly and that is doing tremendous damage to our society. Since that’s the case, we should be trying to strengthen the institution, not risking further damage to one of the building blocks of our society.

Yes, alcohol and cigarettes are legal — and those two substances combined do terrible damage to our society. That’s why cigarettes and alcohol are an argument against the legalization of marijuana, not an argument for it.

What it all comes down to is that people need to rise above pre-school level thinking. We don’t have to do dumb things solely because we want to try to be “fair.” Instead, we should realize that there is a difference between a precedent and a warning.

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