Hillary Clinton suffers from being a Clinton, as well as having one of the most unappealing public personae of a national politician in recent memory. Dick Cheney is creepier and scarier, to be sure, but “fake” is the only word that captures the impression Ms. Clinton makes every time she opens her mouth.
Now, could any competent speaker of the English language reasonably interpret this as RM does?
“unappealing,” meaning–I, Brian Leiter, would not want to sleep with her?
Because that just sounds completely loony to me. When I asked RM to explain how she[?] could possibly interpret the talk of 'appeal', in this context, as referring to sex appeal, RM wrote:
the “context” is the historical characterization of women being evaluated in terms of sexual appeal. This context is always present, regardless if it is explicitly referred to or not.
So apparently it is impossible in our linguistic community to successfully refer to any kind of 'appeal' other than sex appeal, when speaking of a person who is female. That would surprise me. At least, when I read the original quote, the "sex appeal" interpretation did not even occur to me. Yet RM leaped at it as the only possible interpretation. So one of us must be way out of touch with the rest of the speech community. (I assume it's RM who's wrong here, but I'd encourage any readers to report their linguistic intuitions in the comments, just so I can be sure.)
This illustrates one of the things that really bothers me with ideological movements: they seem to impede clear thought (to put it mildly). Paranoia leads ideologues to see threats and insults where none exist. Further, some seem motivated to twist others' statements and read them in the most uncharitable light, willfully misunderstanding them in order to get that dark rush of moralistic pleasure that comes from thinking ill of others. (Cf. Hilzoy's 'Hatred Is A Poison' - possibly the best blog post I've ever read.)
Indeed, RM repeats the debacle later in the very same comments thread. I wrote: "if we are to take sexism seriously, then wrongful accusations of sexism are also pretty serious, to my mind." To which RM responded:
This my last comment. If you feel the need to get the last word in, well, I’ll write that off to your nature.
Have you ever heard of Modus Tollens (it’s related to Transposition)? When we have a conditional statement if A then B, and if not B is shown to be the case, we can conclude not A. This means that B not being the case can, indeed, show that A is false (or as you loosely put it, call A “into doubt”).
In your example, B NOT being the case would be making false accusations of sexism, i.e. if we prove that there are lots of false accusations of sexism then we should not take sexism seriously.
So, my dear boy, given that you think that Leiter has been falsely accused of being sexist, we have at least one instance of not B that could call A (taking sexism seriously) into doubt. Granted, how many more of these “false accusations” are needed before you really begin to question sexism is not clear.
Regardless, I suggest you take a quick look at Modus Tollens. Google it. I teach it in my intro logic class.
Never mind the patronizing false intimacy, or the passive-aggressive posturing re: getting the last word in. Here we have a logic professor suggesting that "if we prove that there are lots of false accusations of sexism then we should not take sexism seriously" is the contrapositive of the previously quoted conditional (apparently misreading the actual consequent, i.e. 'wrongful accusations of sexism are serious', as the very different claim: 'wrongful accusations of sexism don't occur'). The mind boggles.