Thursday, January 01, 2009

Extending an Imperfect Palestinian Analogy

Did I spell analogy correct? Good.

Analogies are good for abstracting a complicated problem. A good analogy has just the right amount of detail. A bad analogy leaves out or hides important details.

While in Edmonton I caught a weird bit of talk radio about the violence in Gaza. The idea of talk radio being a relevant way to discuss complicated issues is a whole separate topic. Suffice it to say this medium does not support critical thinking, or even compassion apparently.

A caller phoned in and got his 15 seconds of fame to say that if Airdrie were firing missiles into the suburbs of North West Calgary, Calgary would most certainly be morally obligated to fight back. If you're unfamiliar with Calgary, Airdrie is a little bedroom community just north of Calgary, with a population of around 34,000.

As usual I was left going but but but but ..... This is a perfect example of a simple minded analogy that leaves you feeling empty.

We can add some details to this analogy to make it more useful.

1. This little town of Airdrie is completely surrounded by the City of Calgary.

2. Airdrie has an unemployment rate of over 80%. The unemployed used to have jobs in Calgary but they cannot go there anymore because of the road blocks on the only highway.

3. Airdrie has little food, broken down sanitation systems, and no utilities that work. Occasionally, they hear that the United Nations is concerned.

4. The City of Calgary gets military hardware and an unlimited supply of cash from the United States. Nothing Calgary does to Airdrie seems to really bother the United States.

5. Airdrie elects a town council but no one recognizes its authority and dismisses calls them as terrorists. The town council cant function anyway, because they are internally deeply divided.

6. Everyone elsewhere in Canada automically assumes the City of Calgary is doing the right thing because they are the only democratic city in the region.

7. Christian preachers refer to Calgary and Airdrie as the Holy Land and engage in gratuitous anti-Airdrie rhetoric.

8. The Canadian media will only play one news clip about Airdrie over and over again, and that's the one where the half crazed lunatic is yelling Death to Calgary!

I could go on, but you get the point. Analogies are only useful if they help explain something. Please recommend this post

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