It proves several things, at least to me:
- People are less and less interested in logical argumentation than they are in soundbites.
- The public is clearly unable to spot logical fallacies.
To be perfectly frank, this sort of argumentation doesn’t impress me one whit. It doesn’t serve to move the current debate over the definition of marriage forward at all, because it can’t answer some truly basic questions. First, at what point was marriage defined as “selling your daughter for three goats and a cow”? Where can I find documentation of said definition?
Furthermore, the number of fallacious categories it falls into are actually pretty stunning. It is a case of chronological snobbery, non sequitur. There are elements of both in just one sentence!
The statement is guilty of chronological snobbery in that the argument can be reduced to,
- It is argued that X,
- X is an old argument, dating back to the time when people believed Y.
- Y is clearly false,
- therefore X is false as well.
In this case, X represents arguments against so-called gay marriage, and Y represents selling your daughter for farm animals.
It is also guilty of being a non sequitur in that it doesn’t follow that we have redefined marriage because you cannot sell your daughters for farm animals. It has not been proven that selling your daughter for farm animals was ever, in fact, a definitional part of marriage. There is simply no logical connection between “selling your daughter for three goats and a cow” and “marriage”.
Yet again, don’t be fooled by bad argumentation. There is plenty of it out there (on both sides of the issue), and it’s easy to think that they “gotcha” element of some of these statements means you’ve won the argument, when all it has done is expose less than rigorous thinking.