Just Asking Questions


Readers here are familiar with a deflection technique used by people with ugly views: they claim they aren’t promoting bad ideas, they’re Just Asking Questions. Asking questions is a good idea, right? We wouldn’t want to discourage people from questioning! Unfortunately, they always use the question as a framework for setting up alternatives that allow them to discuss their real agenda. Are women and black people fully human, or are they inferior subhuman knock-offs of the white man? Hey, don’t criticize me, I’m just asking a question here!

Now look at the kind of person Donald Trump tried to appoint to high office (we could also look at the people he successfully recruited). Anthony Scaramucci has been saying some interesting things on Twitter.

Hey, man, don’t give him no grief. He’s just askin’ questions here. He isn’t denying that the Nazis killed some Jews, he’s just thinkin’ we ought to be quantitative about it.

He’s not sayin’ we should murder 25 million people by setting them on fire and poisoning them with radiation. See, you can choose “no” (and most people did)! He’s just proposing some reasonable alternatives for discussion.

JAQing off isn’t the only tool in the deplorable’s toolbox. There’s also the “Just Joking” defense.

President Trump once joked that Vice President Mike Pence “wants to hang” all gay people, The New Yorker reported Monday.

The publication also reports that Trump has mocked Pence for his views opposing abortion and LGBTQ rights.

Trump jabbed at Pence after a legal scholar told the pair that if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many states would probably legalize abortion.

“You see?” Trump reportedly said to Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.”

And when the meeting began to focus on gay rights, Trump reportedly pointed to Pence, joking, “Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!”

I’m also kind of despising the “Devil’s Advocate” gambit. The people who deploy that one sure seem to spend a lot of time role-playing as Satan.

Comments

  1. Matthew Herron says

    Trump reportedly pointed to Pence, joking, “Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!”

    And that didn’t stop me from choosing him as my running mate!

  2. doubtthat says

    Do you think the “it’s just satire” response to criticism deserves its own category, or is it just part of “just joking, lol, u mad bro?”

    I sort of think it’s different as referencing satire is an attempt to smuggle in a claim of trenchant analysis with the lol, joking defense. It’s not just that it was meant in humor, stupid sjw, it’s that you also missed the deep, penetrating insight of the probably a rape joke.

    That’s a favorite of the Scott Adams – Carlgon of Swinden sort of people – “What? You think I really advocated that men punch women in the face to teach them a lesson? Nope, satire!”

  3. Dennis N says

    I don’t think that’s Anthony Scaramucci, his twitter is the verified account @Scaramucci. @ScaramucciPost is probably just a Russian bot.

  4. Dennis N says

    Oops I dug more, it’s an officially backed account. My bad, feel free to delete my comments.

  5. says

    It’s amazing how often “satire” is used as an excuse. Case in point: our local Rethuglican rag, the Morris North Star. Every issue has a half-page disclaimer at the very front where they go on and on about “satire”, so that they can then go on in the remain 6 or 8 pages and say whatever vile racist, sexist, idiotic thing that pops into the writer’s head, protected by that dishonest label of “satire”.

    They might actually get more respect if instead they said “here’s what we honestly think, and why.”

  6. Saad says

    . Are women and black people fully human, or are they inferior subhuman knock-offs of the white man? Hey, don’t criticize me, I’m just asking a question here!

    It’s such a slimy technique. And a slight variation of it is what the moderate center does in response to things like Charlottesville, KKK and the alt-righters. Oh, they just want to discuss things. Discussions about everything should always be allowed. Whether black people should have human rights IS an idea that should be revisited and civilly discussed over and over.

  7. blf says

    Poopyhead, Completely off-topic, but Orac has recently confirmed that teh SciBorg is shutting down, and added a new detail: The site will, apparently, be going away (apparently at the end of this month!?), effectively deleting all previous posts and comments. In addition, migrating posts and comments is a pain in the arse. Will anything be done with the older Pharyngula posts and comments not effectively already-archived (i.e., not already-duplicated(?) here at FtB or at pre-SciBorg sites)?

  8. David Marjanović says

    And that didn’t stop me from choosing him as my running mate!

    The thing about Trump is that he’s different from most other evil people. Scaramucci appears to be normal: he likes people by default, except for the ones (unusually many) that he hates or despises, and therefore he’s dishonest when he’s JAQing off. Trump doesn’t like people by default. He doesn’t need to hate them to not care about them. He has no empathy and no sympathy. He genuinely doesn’t care. He genuinely believes he’s saying objectively funny, harmless things about Pence. He hurts people by not giving a fuck what happens to them, by not giving a fuck whether they’re married or murdered.

  9. David Marjanović says

    The site will, apparently, be going away (apparently at the end of this month!?), effectively deleting all previous posts and comments.

    Oh, speaking of people who have no empathy and no sympathy.

  10. says

    #8: Yes, it’s another pain-in-the-ass I have to deal with this week. I’m going to slurp over all the posts & comments from sciblogs over here, probably late at night.

    One annoying thing about it is that we’re just a few thousand comments away from a million comments from FtB Pharyngula, which is a nice round number to commemorate, but we’ll be sailing way, way, way past that number this week. Feels like cheating.

  11. Dunc says

    Do you think the “it’s just satire” response to criticism deserves its own category, or is it just part of “just joking, lol, u mad bro?”

    If you think it’s worth engaging with these people at all, a reasonable place to start is by asking them what, exactly, they were supposed to be satirising. It turns out a lot of them don’t actually understand what satire is.

  12. cartomancer says

    On the spurious claim that something is satire, I am cautiously optimistic. It seems the up and coming youth of today are well aware how over-used that claim is. To the extent that when I teach Juvenal I am occasionally asked how we know it’s supposed to be satire, and even when I tell them that it’s a foundational text of the entire genre they remain skeptical – “yes, I know Juvenal says he’s writing satire, but lots of people do that to get away with voicing horrid views”.

  13. whywhywhy says

    I’m also kind of despising the “Devil’s Advocate” gambit. The people who deploy that one sure seem to spend a lot of time role-playing as Satan.

    Well in their defense, Satan is more fun to role play as compared to god.
    Is this playing “Devil’s Advocate” about playing “Devil’s Advocate?

  14. nelliebly says

    Remind me, was Scaramucci the one who looked like the human embodiment of Axe body spray?

    I’m having trouble keeping these failures straight.

  15. says

    Poll :

    Should Mr Scaramucci be publicly stripped naked and beheaded with a teaspoon ?
    – Yes
    – No
    – Don’t know
    – Other

    What ???

    Hey, don’t look at me like this ! I’m just asking questions !

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