Friday, February 24, 2006

There are stupid questions

Would an all-out civil war in Iraq be a good thing?


  1. I think what they meant was whether it could in the end turn out to have good consequences that years from now people will say were worth it. I don't think they meant to ask if the bad things associated with war are good. I have no idea how to see it as a stupid question unless you assume they meant the latter.

  2. Jeremy,
    I disagree. Not because it's patently obvious, but because of the linguistic pragmatics of even asking the question. Yes, your interpretation might let FoxTV off the hook. No, it's daft to think Fox really has the long-term well-being of Iraq in mind. Airing the program is a chance to do some yellow journalism and keep ratings up.

  3. You don't have to talk about Fox's particular reputation to make this point. Jeremy, I still think the question is stupid. As you say, the reason it's stupid can't be that it is undeniably obvious that the long-term results of a civil war would be bad. It's very difficult to predict long-term results of major events. The reason it's stupid is because of various implications that are raised by asking it. The only plausible reason to air the question in these terms is to raise the possibility that it's not a good idea to take steps to avoid such a war -- or worse, to raise the possibility that we should encourage one. This suggestion is horrible.