FUM: Paul Bongiorno comes a cropper

One of the most incorrigible logical fallacies, I think, is the Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle. Together with the Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent it is the most frequently-encountered logical fallacy, and these two together with the Fallacy of Composition, I think, are the cause of a tremendous amount unnecessary grief in the world.

Anyway, I saw an example of it in print last week. Gerard Henderson, in his weekly Media Watch Dog column, pointed out a rather egregious sideways dig that Paul Bongiorno took at Tony Abbott in a radio interview on (where else?) the ABC: 

Linda Mottram: Art. There’s lots of it in Parliament House.

 Paul Bongiorno: Yes, there is a permanent collection. But what’s happening at the moment is that a collection was, um, ah was commissioned by the Bell Shakespeare ah Company, for some of Australia’s finest artists to paint pictures from the words from Shakespeare’s plays and, er, or, or, or, scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.

And, um, Craig Kelly, the Member for Hughes in Sydney, who put on his Facebook that he stuck with Tony [Abbott] in the recent ballot. Er, he, he takes great offence to one of the arts [sic] of the three witches from Macbeth. And one of the witches [has] a big bare bottom and he doesn’t think that’s very nice.  But I went down and had a look at the collection. Ah I actually thought that that by the famous, much awarded artist, um, I can’t think the name now. She’s so awarded, I can’t think of the name.

LM: Wendy Sharpe? Wendy Sharpe?

PB: Wendy Sharpe, of course, yeah. But there’s another one by Ken Done, “A woman is a dish for the gods: Anthony and Cleopatra, which is full-frontal nudity. I wonder if he [Craig Kelly] likes that one? And then there’s another one by, um, that’s Ken Done’s effort – a guy called Garry Shead, “Romeo and Juliet. And Romeo seems to be fondling the bare breast of Juliet.

Now, maybe, eh, maybe, eh, Craig Kelly, who said – maybe he’s a philistine – but his hero Tony Abbott once described the art collection in Parliament House as “avant-garde crap”.

Now those of you that have an eye to history, and the history of art discussion and polemics over the years, might remember that the, um, for example, the, eh, Nazis in Nazi Germany outlawed anything that was modern art or impressionistic. The only art that was, you know, politically correct in those times was what they call photo-realism. So you know, whether that would satisfy this gentleman Kelly or not I don’t know. Art is in the eye of the beholder. I do think that maybe he’s a bit prudish and misses the point.

Yes, Tony Abbott’s calling the art in Parliament House ‘avant-garde crap’ immediately draws to mind the Nazis’ disapproval of impressionistic art.

Bongiorno’s attempt at smearing Abbott takes the following form, I think:

  1. Tony Abbott called the art in Parliament House ‘avant-garde crap’.
  2. The Nazis also didn’t like modern art.
  3. Therefore …

Yes, Bongiorno doesn’t finish the syllogism for us, he merely implies it and leaves the listeners to ‘do the maffs’. Well done to Gerard Henderson for picking him up on this appalling slur of Abbott.


About Stebbing Heuer

A person interested in exploring human perception, reasoning, judgement and deciding, and in promoting clear, effective thinking and the making of good decisions.
This entry was posted in Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle, Formal fallacies in reasoning. Bookmark the permalink.

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