Monday, January 26, 2009

Argumentum Ad lolwut?

The scene: Federal Courts. The actors: two clueless students. The results: teeth-grinding rage boiling up in our narrator.

All right, here's the first one. Talking about Justice O'Connor's dismissal of a "slippery slope" bogeyman as a reason to strike down a reasonable statutory scheme (O'Connor is right for once, just on this point; I want to forestall any confusion by pointing that out), a student refers to her "reference to a slippery slope argument."

There are no slippery slope arguments, pal. Try it this way, if that's not clear. Imagine that I applauded your cunning use of the "red herring argument." That's another way of saying, "Congrats, your blatant sophistry won the day, you intellectually dishonest tool." Right? Or am I wrong? Is the slippery slope fallacy the greatest rhetorical device in the history of ever?

It sure is law students' favorite fallacy, and not qua fallacy.

OK, the other mental face-plant from the same class - explaining Justice White's dissent in Northern Pipeline Constr. Co. v. Marathon Pipe Line Co., 458 U.S. 50 (1982), a wannabe gunner chick said that "he wanted the Court to look to the strength of the legislative interest and ask itself if that interest is more compelling than the values further by Art. III." Awesome, except this is what Justice White actually said: "I do not suggest that the Court should simply look to the strength" &c. It's hard to get something more wrong.

Grading on a curve is now the most awesome thing ever.


At 9:08 AM, January 26, 2009 , Blogger Freiheit said...

Grading on a curve is now the most awesome thing ever.

I'm not sure your belief that the professors are less clueless than those students is warranted.

At 8:29 PM, January 26, 2009 , Blogger Vernunft said...

I'm starting to figure out which professors know the law and which know their own law. Hopefully I can learn the Subjective Law by finals.


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