Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bain or Bane

Dark Knight Rises Advertisement featuring the villain Bane

When I first started writing this blog, I knew eventually I would be talking about Rush Limbaugh. I don't listen to his show, but he is such an influential political personality that it he is impossible to avoid. I am fine with this as I know Limbaugh is a great source for fallacies and rhetorical errors. 

Well, the time has finally come as Rush Limbaugh has been discussing the latest manufactroversy (manufactured or made-up controversy) concerning the similarities between the name of the villain in the latest Batman film, Bane, and Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's former private equity firm Bain Capital:
Have you heard this new movie, the Batman movie, what is it, The Dark Knight Lights Up or whatever the name is. That's right, Dark Knight Rises, Lights Up, same thing. Do you know the name of the villain in this movie? Bane. The villain in The Dark Knight Rises is named Bane, B-a-n-e. What is the name of the venture capital firm that Romney ran and around which there's now this make-believe controversy? Bain. The movie has been in the works for a long time. The release date's been known, summer 2012 for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental that the name of the really vicious fire-breathing four-eyed whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bain?
Let's unpack the fallacies. First, there is a very nice Loaded Question in the last sentence, with Limbaugh at least hinting at the possibility of some conspiracy or collusion between the Obama campaign and the makers of the film. As many have noted the possibility of any kind of collusion here is nonsensical. The character of Bane was created in 1993, and the film began principle photography over a year ago working from a script that had been in development from at least 2008. The idea that there was some grand conspiracy or collusion among the Obama campaign and Hollywood simply boggles the mind. At best, it seems we have a coincidence: the film happens to be coming out at the same time that the Obama campaign is going after Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital.

And this brings me to the next fallacy we can identify here, the False Analogy. To be fair to Limbaugh, he isn't really making a false analogy himself, merely discussing a false analogy made by other commentators, primarily the Democratic strategist Christopher Lehane, who appears to be the first to link Bane with Bain. That this connection is a false analogy should be obvious.

h/t to the Sean O'Neil

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