Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to think they’re repeating it.


7 thoughts on “Romans

  1. Oh, the chances to troll her there are massive. Depending upon how he chooses to play his cards, he could use her own point to note that a number of issues would be covered by this (including many which she probably would support.) For instance, the turn around would be ‘Oh, so based on your position we should abolish public schooling and allowing women to divorce their partner for cheating, since they were major points of culture under that government?’

    *I do think we need to learn from history accurately. I just couldn’t help but see the conflict with claiming one thing is bad because of association, and not claiming other things as bad under the same association. Obviously, the argument he presented was flawed (we do not have a horde of murderous pillaging barbarians at the border,) but similarly countering it in that manner leaves you in a position of supporting by default the removal of many good things… if your debate opponent has the brains to use your statement against you.*

    • Hardly. The whole point of the comic is that simplistic historical analogies are fallacious, whether applied for or against contemporary issues. It was the speaker who committed that fallacy in suggesting that modern border policy can be modeled on Roman policy (while, for good measure, deeply misunderstanding actual Roman frontier politics, but that’s not the problem at issue). The questioner is pointing out that fallacy by citing more obvious cases where we would do badly to imitate the Romans, not suggesting the opposite fallacy of rejecting anything the Romans did simply because the Romans did it.

      Just because the Romans did something doesn’t make it a good idea. It doesn’t make it a bad idea, either, just an idea. Ideas need to be evaluated on their own merits and in their own contexts. History is a tool for helping us examine those contexts, not for side-stepping the evaluation altogether.

      Sorry if all of that doesn’t come through in the comic, but it’s just a comic, not a debate primer.

      Anyway. There goes the joke.

      • I got the joke, just was pointing out that the implication of her comment is that what the Romans did would be bad because of their style of government. I just see a logical fallacy in the way she said things, although the joke was a good idea.

        Basically, she doesn’t state that their situation and the Roman’s situation are not the same, revealing the fallacy, but rather she attacks everything Roman with the argument that their government and entertainment were bad, so this too must be bad by going along with the fallacy. In extending the fallacious argument (to add that all things Roman must be bad because the government and entertainment were) she bombs the joke (she no longer reveals the fallacy, but makes a fool of herself.) If she had added anything where she actually said ‘Hey, just because the example applied to them it doesn’t necessarily apply to us.’ then I would agree that she is obviously pointing it out… but with sarcasm alone I return to rebutting it with the same sarcasm. Just because one emulation would be wrong to do, does not mean that every emulation would be wrong.

        I would have found revealing the fallacy humorous. She does not promote considering ideas on their own merits, but rather condemns more ideas for having existed under a distasteful practice of the past.

        So… I just really found the execution wrong, but maybe others will find it more to their taste!

  2. This discussion is, for me, just the latest reminder of how differently people read things. To take one teeny aspect: “chances to troll her” – who is this ‘she’ Robert keeps talking about? Oh, right, the questioner does have a little longer hair, but hair does not a (wo)man make. And how is the speaker supposedly a ‘he’? Not only is the gender of these cartoon characters nor marked, it’s irrelevant. I applaud Erik’s execution and terminology – work of high quality, sir!

    • Well, the questioner does address the speaker as “sir,” so he at least is intended to be male. The questioner, though, could be anything. Sometimes I have a gender in mind when I doodle a stick person, sometimes I don’t. Just like humor, it’s interesting how these things can be subjective, too.

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