From the fact that people are very different it follows that, if we treat them equally, the result must be inequality in their actual position, and that the only way to place them in an equal position would be to treat them differently. Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict with each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time

-- F.A. Hayak

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Guilt By Association

On the O'Reilly show Barack Obama had this to say about his relationship with people like Reverend Wright and William Ayers:
OBAMA: All I'm sayin' is - I expect to be held responsible for the things I say and do. And one of the things that's happened in this campaign - and I think that you have the power to help correct the record on this - is not to put me in a position where every tangential relationship ...

O'REILLY: It isn't ... [Obama eh, eh...] there's a pattern of behavior [Obama: no, no...] here...

OBAMA: No, there is not a pattern of behavior. It is classic guilt by association.

No, Mr. Obama, you do not understand the concept of guilt-by-association. An association fallacy is an inductive formal fallacy of the type hasty generalization or red herring which asserts that qualities of one thing are inherently the qualities of another, merely by an irrelevant association. The two types are sometimes referred to as guilt by association. Association fallacies are a special case and are usually based on an appeal to emotion.

Mr. Obama is justly damaged by his assocation with Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright because both of these individuals, by Mr. Obama's own admission, served as mentors to him. In this case, the association is not irrelevant.