And thus, structurally, Richard Dawkins, or his distant cousin Richard D. Poe (I am still not sure) has shut down the argument that the Elevator Guy acted inappropriately when he asked Rebecca Watson over for a cuppa joe at four O’clock in the AM, in an elevator, while she was on her way to bed.
Imma let you read all about it by following the threads upstream, but in the meantime I want to point out the fallacy at work here. It’s called the Watch the Monkey strategy, and I’ve written about it before. I even drew a cute little picture of a monkey to illustrate the point. This comes from a South Park parody of Johnny Cochraine defnding OJ Simpson. No matter what argument anyone is making you can always derail it by holding up the cute monkey and waving it around while yelling “Watch the Monkey.”
Or, in actual practice, what you do is this: If you want to shut someone down who is saying something that makes you uncomforable, then you point out some other thing that has nothing whatsoever to do with what they are saying, but that either sounds more serious or is, perhaps, about a cute monkey or if no monkey is available, something, anything, furry. And having just come back from a science fiction and fantasy convention, when I say furry you might have a hard time imagining what I’m …. imagining. But I digress. Anyway, it works like this:
Stimulus: “Oh look, the Nuclear Power Plant is Melting Down”
Response: “CAR ACCIDENTZ KILL THOUSANDS YEARLY!!!!’
Stimulus: “Guys, don’t ask a girl over to your crib while alone on an elevator at four AM in the morning when she’s already indicated she’s going to her room because she is tired and needs her sleep and recently gave a talk about sexism and stuff.”
Response: “MUSLIM WOMENZ GET THEIR GENITALS CUT OFF”
And now, Watch the Monkey:
That is all.