Among every thinker, ideology and argument is a hidden gun (Argumentum ad baculum – appeal to the stick). This hidden gun is the initiation of force but hidden by social norms or ideological frameworks. It is simply the subtle but mere threat of force in order to keep order, or to keep the eyes off an inherently weak position. These come in many forms, but the most commonly experienced are done with labels such as racism, sexism, xenophobia and so on. These are hidden guns, a threat of force if you do not conform. While the one who threatens with this hidden gun gets to look like a moral enforcer, and thus is perceived as one serving justice in a respectable and acceptable manner.

Furthermore, many arguments are based on the threat of a hidden gun which does not exist, and thus should be revealed for the baseless arguments that they are. Absurdly, when this is revealed, a very real gun (threat) is brought in so you cannot successfully take the argument apart or reveal it for long enough so that other people to see how much of a paper tiger these arguments are. The result of a hidden gun being found to be an empty threat which cannot be backed up is a strong appeal to emotions, being upset, offended, crying and moaning about injustices, inequality and oppression.

For example:
You’re for stricter immigration policies which only let in refugees and people who have an assured job when they arrive. This can easily result in the hidden gun being pointed at you with the labels of racism and nationalism. What these two labels backed up by a hidden gun are doing are threatening to ruin your reputation, social standing, and maybe even put your life in danger while outside. It acts as a big finger to point at you, for all who want to verbally or physically assault you. It should be made clear that such a thing is the same as putting someone on a hit-list, and then publishing it in public so any member of said public can then take it upon themselves to kill or harm this person to silence them: public justice, and the people taking the law into their own hands for social justice.

It is a way of singling out and asking the society to remove a nuisance. If everyone agreed to debate immigration policies we would all realise that the hidden gun cannot be enforced by the state, nor the people. It evaporates. But the moment someone in the state or public frown upon immigration as a subject to never question, nor talk about, you have slipped the hidden gun back into the subject. Diversity of thinking is one of the easiest ways to have yourself branded and threatened.

Your job as a thinker and fellow human being is to find that hidden gun and to dissemble it, and thus disarm it. Why disarm it? So you, and the rest of society can freely discuss and express their own opinions without the fear of an authority (legal or not) silencing them.

This is the duty of every citizen.

One thought on “The appeal to force among thinkers.

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