Some rules of thumb:

  1. “Nuance” is (sometimes) a euphemism for “I haven’t actually bothered to think this through”.
  2. Fundamentally, there are only two legitimate answers to a “yes or no”-type questtion (which, it turns out, encompasses MOST questions)

    yes (within the relevant context)


NO (without regard to context)

Here’s how that works:

“Yes” = yes

“Yes, but” = Yes

“No, but” = yes

“NO” = no

To concretize this:

If I ask you whether the use of physical force is morally permissible, as a means of self-defense, there are really only two (legitimate) answers:

“Yes — within a specific context/under specified conditions”

“No — without regard to context, circumstances, or conditions”.

Anything beyond that will be regarded as either hand-waving (IE: an attempt at misdirection on your part), or incoherence on your part (because you haven’t bothered to actually think through your response to the question.

Now, some people will probably dismiss the above as symptomatic of “binary thinking”, or “absolutism”, or some other  would-be slur.  I honestly don’t give a shit, because quite frankly, the sort of person who resorts to those kind of pseudo-intellectual cop-outs is unworthy of a response.

Now notice something: under the above schema, most so-called “no’ answers are in fact “yes”-type responses.  The use of the term “but” is typically used to obscure that fact — both from the questioner — and from the individual being questioned.

For example: many (purported) advocates of “nonviolence” are simply too cowardly to admit the fact that they tacitly regard (for example) a woman who “resorts” to the use of physical force against her would-be rapist, and the rapist himself, as morally indistinguishable, because both parties resorted to actions  which can (sloppily) be subsumed under the heading of “violence”.

Now, IF you actually agree with the above, then you should admit to it, openly.  However, doing so would require the (purportedly) “nonviolent” to also admit — at least to themselves — that their own “nonviolence” has ITSELF both enabled the rapist, AND tacitly smoothed the road for further depredations — both by that individual rapist, AND for any other such thug.

“Nonviolence” fails, even at its own stated aim of reducing/stopping “violence”.

So most people hide behind cutesy word-salad like ‘No, but”.

They want it both ways:

They get to look “noble” by saying “no” — while at the same time, they get to not actually mean it (“But….”)

Quite frankly: infinitely better to admit outright that you are in fact, an advocate of whatever it happens to be — and then go on to “dialog” about the specific context.

(For example: either you think that self-defense is moral — or you don’t.  The only legitimate question is: under what circumstances?  Within what context?  

Anything else is mealy-mouthed hand-waving.







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