Reductio Ad Absurdum

In the comments about the LeMoyne story, Andrew posits this comment.

My question is, would you be creating the same stink if a Nazi wrote a sympathetic paper and was expelled?

Or is your anger only because you share similar convictions as the “offender”?

As a practical matter I think the question boils down the argument to the absurd. The student who was expelled for advocating corporal punishment as a method of classroom management was advocating a method that is still regularly practiced in some places and has, historically, been in wide use throughout classrooms in this country for several centuries.

If the guy had advocated gas chambers and concentration camps, I would think he would have deserved an “F”, but I certainly would not have expelled the guy for even that. He did, after all, receive an “A-” for the paper. To get expelled for writing an “A-” paper reduces higher ed to the absurd.

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Erick Erickson

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