By Daniel G. Jennings
Critique by Punkerslut
I came across this writing while looking through Francios Tremblay's website on Objective Thought. In the news section, it came with the tag, "If you are interested in Peter Singer, you must read this." Since I hold a decent respect for the man, I figured, sure, why not read it. Of course, that was before I read the article. I looked through only a few lines of it, finding countless errors and just plain false arguments, particularly Ad Hominem, or just personal attacks. At a point like this, I felt as though it were necessary to go back to base one, on the question of, "Defining Intelligence," or "Building an Argument," or "Logical Thinking." For instance, an intellectual statement, contrary to what Jennings (the author) or Tremblay (the promoter) believe, is not "Singer, judging by his writings, is also a complete idiot." Building an argument means deconstructing an idea or a thought, and offering how they principles do not logically fit together, or how they are in opposition to known historical or scientific facts. Making an intelligent statement and using logical thinking means offering an idea that gives insight to some logically constructed thought that is not commonly brought up upon first inspection. Anyway, I could write an entire thesis on constructing arguments, writing, thinking, etc., but then that would leave little left for me to critique in this article. So, on with the critique...
The Ad Hominem argument, perhaps the most common among the uneducated, is the most common throughout this entire piece. Instead of actually tackling the problems and offering analogies to demonstrate a point, the author if this piece just threw insults left and right. The error of using "you idiot!" as an argument is that it does not prove anything, either the illegitimacy or legitimacy of a theory. Furthermore, it burdens down the writing with the same point. "You idiot" for instance, can be transfered to "you moron." Little changes. Finally, an intelligent piece is not full of "Hey, fool," and other insults, as it detrimental to a flowing, intellectual, thoughtful writing process. The following is a list of some of the insults I picked out, just to demonstrate my point...
Peter Singer -- Father of Terrorism?
Though it may be true that Peter Singer defended the idea that animals have rights, he is hardly responsible for those who act on these beliefs. If someone were to write a book on the technique of dentistry, they wouldn't be held responsible for someone who bombed libraries that refused to hold books on dentistry. Furthermore, Singer has demonstrated some beliefs in the idea of Democracy, where the individual members of society are allowed the freedom to change society peacefully.
Sure, humans are superior. It doesn't mean anything though. A human baby is inferior to me. Does that grant me the right to hack it up and throw it on the barbecue? I don't think so. So, if a human is "superior," or "has culture," compared to a cow, does that mean that the human has the right to hack up the cow and throw it in on the grill? I would doubt it. Of course, in all of this work, asside from all the insult, this is possibly the only argument that Jennings actually offered. What does superiority mean, honestly? If one man is superior to another, he can enslave him? Are all people of 100 IQ slaves to those of 110 IQ? It's an absurd idea of "freedom" or "liberty," and talking on it further is a waste of valuable seconds.
Just one statement needs to be said to this... If a third world nation's economy is entirely in ruins, and it's because of colonial exploitation from another nation, then is it not the exploiter who is responsible?
Foreign Aid? Not likely!
Actually, there's plenty. Photographs of villages before and after, photographs of children being fed, among other things. We also have, "Many, if not most, of the people in charge of the relief organizations are con artists ripping off the poor and elderly." I mean, I could be interested in this, sure, maybe if there was an ounce or shred of evidence brought with this claim.
Just who listens to Peter Singer Anyway?
I wouldn't think this is true at all. I belong to one of the classes that experiences the most want and oppression: the homeless squatters. A thousand laws have made it illegal to be homeless (Transience, etc.), as I have demonstrated in other works. And, to the contrary, many of us are interested in Vegetarianism, Animal Rights, and Peter Singer's philosophy.
Adolf Hitler -- Just another anti-Semitic crank, in my opinion...
It is true, if you will, that Adolf Hitler would come to oppress the Jewish people. However, those who oppose Nazism and Racism, don't defeat their opponents in a debate, by repeating, "You idiot!" or "That's so stupid, man!" Adolf Hitler was not wrong, because "those crackpot ideas." He was wrong because he violated the rights of men and women, because a man's character is not developed wholly (or even mostly, in most cases) by their religion or ethnicity. A criminal could be from any background, but it is poverty (neither race nor religion) which instigates criminal behavior.
In all honesty, with the constant insults and rather derogatory remarks, I would think that this wasn't an article at all, but probably a journal entry from an eight year old girl's diary. Also, Jennings tries to make it look like everyone accepts Peter Singer's philosophy. This couldn't be further from the truth. The fact is that Singer is so popular and discussed today because his ideas are so controversial and divergent from tradition. Even those who do not agree with him consider his ideas to be interesting and opening a new page in the history of the study of ethics. But to say that everyone agrees with him would be a most absurd statement -- and, as an interesting note, no evidence was provided to prove it to be true. Finally, I think that what Jennings wrote was in fact garbage, based on prejudice, ignorance, and plain lack of thoughtfulness. Take this for what you will.